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The use of new biomass derived activated carbon to replace current commercial activated carbons in and development of novel applications for new market entry

Faculty of Engineering

, Friday, April 30, 2021 Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

CPL Industries Limited is the UK’s market leader in the manufacture and supply of coal and biomass based smokeless solid fuels used in domestic  heating. Alongside this core business area and more recently CPL have a fast-growing activated carbon division. CPL also have an experienced R&D team covering both these business areas.

CPL Activated Carbons are part of CPL Industries ltd and is a division that is responsible for the purchase, regeneration and sale of activated carbon for a wide range of industrial applications covering areas in UK, Europe and most recently America. The large majority of activated carbon currently purchased is coal based and is imported from China (95%) with the balance from Australia. CPL’s R&D division have and are developing new biomass derived activated carbons (both using physical and chemical activation) that require direct comparison to carbons currently available in the market today.

The challenge is to achieve significant understanding of the key properties and characteristics of the activated carbons provided such as pore structure and pore surface chemistry. This knowledge is to be transferred into new and existing final application testing in lab, pilot and potentially industrial scale for existing and potentially new emerging markets. The methods for this application testing will be developed in-house by yourself and assisted by CPL R&D and activated carbons division. The new biomass carbons will need to be compared to current existing carbons in terms of performance, cost and sustainability. 

It is envisaged that you will be based at both the University of Nottingham and CPL Immingham in a roughly 50:50 split over 4 years. You will be expected to liaise with main stakeholders within CPL such as the R&D team, activated carbons division in UK, Europe and America and also senior management. You will also have the opportunity to present your findings to the CPL group CEO, Tim Minett.


Key requirements:

  • A degree in either chemistry, physical chemistry or chemical and process engineering. (MChem, MEng 2.1 or above) and or equivalent MSc with merit.
  • Good technical written and verbal communication skills
  • Time management and ability to meet deadlines
  • Can work individually and in a team
  •  Engineering software knowledge 

Enquiries: Dr Robin Irons at the University of Nottingham () or Dr Andy Gill at CPL ()

Funding Notes

The project will be part of the EPSRC-supported Centre for Doctoral Training in Resilient Decarbonised Fuel Energy Systems . The student who undertakes it will be one of a cohort of over 50 students in a broad range of disciplines across the Universities of Sheffield, Nottingham and Cardiff. In addition to the standard EPSRC stipend and payment of UK fees, there will be a stipend enhancement of £3750 per annum for 4 years, with £6000 per annum of funding for research costs and travel.


Candidates are asked to nominate at least one referee from their recent academic or employment history.

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