This is a self funded PhD studentship opportunity which combines the fields of chemical engineering and artificial intelligence. This research project will investigate cutting-edge machine learning and develop Artificial Intelligence for application in chemical process prediction and reactor control automation.

One of the key challenges to be solved in this exciting project is that the current techniques for process control lack the ability to handle dynamic situations whereby process conditions can change in a seemingly random way to specific changes in operation.Through Big Data and Artificial Intelligence (AI), it is possible to overcome this limitation and with world-leading research, AI may offer improved process control over traditional control loops. This innovative project aims to make strides towards finding novel solutions to this real world problem by investigating machine and deep learning algorithms on a scaled chemical reactor with inputs that can be gradually incorporated and adjusted to increase the complexity of the system.

This pioneering research project will investigate innovative machine learning techniques, supported by a world class research group, to design and study AI for enhancing advanced reactor control systems. The results of the project will be validated experimentally and by modelling. The research will involve the student generating the state-of-the-art AI programmes for reaction prediction and process control that are optimised, environmentally conscious, low cost, and high performing.
The research will be student driven and as such there is scope to broaden and deepen the scope of these objectives based on new information that comes to light during the course of the research.

The successful candidate will work within Cranfield’s state-of-the-art energy research facilities, where we own and conduct research on the UK’s largest chemical and calcium looping facilities. This research supports existing work going on within the Energy and Power department at Cranfield University and is a unique take the problem at hand. Cranfield University has an outstanding academic reputation, which is bolstered by our close relations with industry. The research our students carry out for industry, government and businesses provides them with a real-world learning environment, allowing them to develop as professionals and then transfer their knowledge into the global economy.

There is great potential for AI technology in industry and the work conducted here is a significant precursor for its future deployment in smart reactors and control devices. Research and development of AI in chemical engineering will lead to new job opportunities in the burgeoning field, with this research project being a part of the future solution. The student involved in this research will be contribute to several high-impact publications, conference presentations, and will influence the direction of future grant proposals.

It is expected that the student will publish academic journal papers, attend international and national conferences, and will gain a multitude of transferable skills throughout their PhD applicable in both industry and academia. PhD’s are widely recognised as being key qualifications for future employment in areas including academia, industry, consultancy, and research and development. It is hoped that the outcomes of this research will lead to patents or spin-out businesses.

At a glance

  • Application deadlineOngoing
  • Award type(s)PhD
  • Duration of award3 years
  • EligibilityUK, EU, Rest of World
  • Reference numberSWEE0078


1st Supervisor: Dr Peter Clough    

2nd Supervisor: Prof Vasilije Manovic

Entry requirements

Applications are welcomed from outstanding students with a minimum 2.1 degree in Chemical Engineering or any other engineering/scientific/computational based subject. We are looking for students with aspiration as well as intellectual aptitude. The candidate should possess an innovative approach to problem solving, well developed technical skills, a willingness to work in a cross-disciplinary research setting.


This is a self funded PhD studentship opportunity. Students applying for this PhD would have to secure their own funding.

Cranfield Doctoral Network

Research students at Cranfield benefit from being part of a dynamic, focused and professional study environment and all become valued members of the Cranfield Doctoral Network. This network brings together both research students and staff, providing a platform for our researchers to share ideas and collaborate in a multi-disciplinary environment. It aims to encourage an effective and vibrant research culture, founded upon the diversity of activities and knowledge. A tailored programme of seminars and events, alongside our Doctoral Researchers Core Development programme (transferable skills training), provide those studying a research degree with a wealth of social and networking opportunities.

How to apply

For further information please contact: Dr Peter Clough
T: (0)1234 750111 Ext: 4873

If you are eligible to apply for this studentship, please complete the online application form.
For further information contact us today:
T: +44 (0)1234 758082