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Investigation of a novel fluidised bed reactor for the efficient conversion of biomass to chemicals

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  • Full or part time
    Dr P Kechagiopoulos
    Prof J Anderson
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Self-Funded PhD Students Only
    Self-Funded PhD Students Only

Project Description

The increasing environmental and economic pressure from the continued use of earth’s dwindling fossil sources necessitates intensifying research on novel technologies to ensure the sustainable development of society. Biomass is especially suited to address society’s high needs in carbon-based chemicals, with pyrolysis being a very promising pathway towards a transition from fossil- to bio-based refineries. The development and optimisation of such technologies is best achieved through the implementation of advanced computational methodologies. During this project such an elaborate, knowledge driven, simulation tool will be developed to optimise a novel spouted bed biomass pyrolysis reactor.

Spouted beds are a very interesting reactor class, sharing many characteristics with typical fluidised beds, such as the efficient gas-particle contact. Moreover, they are characterised by very short residence times for the gas and excellent particle mixing, while the systematic solids cyclic motion allows for very efficient heat recirculation. The bed is furthermore flexible in handling coarse, irregular and sticky particles and, as such, could enable an effective processing of biomass. The few relevant published research attempts indicate already this potential.

Aim of this project is to systematically investigate and determine the optimal design and operating conditions of such a unit, implementing advanced modelling techniques, strongly driven from building a fundamental understanding of the occurring chemical and transport phenomena. Lumped kinetic networks, but also elaborate multi-step ones that consider secondary reactions, will be validated over thermogravimetric experiments derived from literature and collected within the project in collaboration with the Department of Chemistry. Prevalent transport phenomena will be elaborated in an existing spouted bed reactor model to properly account for particle shrinkage and intra-particle heat and mass transport phenomena at reactive conditions. In combination with the elaborate kinetic model, the final research output of the project will provide unprecedented insight into the process and its performance potential.

The successful candidate should have, or expect to have an Honours Degree at 2.1 or above (or equivalent) in Chemical Engineering with knowledge of Membrane reactors, Chemical reaction kinetics, Fluidised bed reactors, Biomass conversion processes, Thermogravimetry, Programming in MATLAB or similar

Funding Notes

There is no funding attached to this project it is for self-funded students only.


Olazar M. et al., AIChE J, 2000, 46, 1025–1033
Miller R.S., Bellan J., Combust Sci Technol, 1996, 126, 97–137
Kechagiopoulos, P.N. et al., Chem Eng Process, 2014, 82, 137–149
Ranzi et al., Energy & Fuels 2008, 22, 4292–4300

Application Process:

Formal applications can be completed online: http://www.abdn.ac.uk/postgraduate/apply. You should apply for PhD in Engineering, to ensure that your application is passed to the correct College for processing. Please ensure that you quote the project title and supervisor on the application form.

Informal inquiries can be made to Dr P Kechagiopoulos, ([email protected]) with a copy of your curriculum vitae and cover letter. All general enquiries should be directed to the Graduate School Admissions Unit ([email protected]).

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