Switching to low-carbon fuels is one of the key building blocks of energy decarbonisation and transition towards the net-zero target. With the support of EPSRC and Purifier Labs (PL), this project aims to combine experimental and process simulation approaches to develop an innovative biohydrogen and biomethanol synthesis route based on PL’s hydrothermal gasification process. A minimum annual stipend of £19,237 (tax-free) plus fees for four years will be provided.

Switching to low-carbon fuels is one of the key building blocks of energy decarbonisation and transition towards the net-zero target. In collaboration with Purifier Labs (PL), this project aims to combine experimental and process simulation approaches to develop an innovative biohydrogen and biomethanol synthesis route based on PL’s hydrothermal gasification process. Methanol is the feedstock for many industries, which is mainly produced from fossil fuel sources, thus, is associated with a high carbon footprint. Accordingly, there is an urge to find sustainable and clean alternatives for the production of methanol. The proposed approach in this project is innovative and offers the production of biogenic methanol, which has a significantly lower carbon footprint and can particularly be used for the production of sustainable marine and aviation fuels. PL’s hydrothermal gasification enables the production of syngas, required for methanol production, from wet feedstock, therefore eliminating the need for drying feedstock, which is a significant challenge in conventional syngas production routes. The main challenge to address is to optimise syngas composition (hydrogen-to-carbon dioxide ratio) and to minimise carbon monoxide content that adversely affects catalysts during methanol production. 

Accordingly, the successful candidates will first investigate the kinetics of syngas production at elevated pressures within PL’s hydrothermal gasification process to optimise the syngas content. Subsequently, the syngas will be used within the catalytic processes to synthesise methanol, the main objective of which will focus on achieving an optimal production yield. In addition, the process simulation models will be developed based on the experimental data to validate the models and optimise the entire process. 

This project offers a unique opportunity to work at the forefront of hydrogen and sustainable fuels research. As a PhD student, you will gain valuable experience in thermochemical processes for low-carbon fuel production. You will receive training from the UKRI-funded doctoral training centres and have the chance to participate in entrepreneurial, project management, and technique-specific training. You will also be part of the hydrogen community of practices and MTI research group led by Dr Nabavi. Interactions with Purifier Labs will further enhance your learning and networking opportunities. You will use PL’s hydrothermal gasification (0.5-1 tonne production capacity) and Cranfield facilities for experimental investigations. In addition, you will build upon the process simulation developed at Cranfield and work with existing research to advance the process to the next level. You will also have the chance to attend conferences and engage with world-leading researchers, paving the way for a successful career in this field.

At a glance

  • Application deadline19 Jun 2024
  • Award type(s)PhD
  • Start date29 Sep 2024
  • Duration of award4 years
  • EligibilityUK, Rest of world
  • Reference numberSWEE0250

Supervisor

1st Supervisor: Dr Ali Nabavi
2nd Supervisor: Dr Mingming Zhu    

Entry requirements

Applicants should have a first or second class UK honours degree or equivalent in a related discipline. This project would suit students with knowledge and experience of chemical and reaction engineering, catalysis and materials and thermochemical processing. Prior study of this specific research area is not a pre-requisite. We encourage applications from under-represented groups and are committed to equality, diversity and inclusion.

Funding

Sponsored by EPSRC Engineering Hydrogen Centre for Doctoral Training and Purifier Labs, this studentship will provide an annual stipend of £19,237 plus tuition fee. An additional travel and related expenses grant during the course of the project worth up to £1000 per year for 4 years. 

To be eligible for this funding, applicants must be classified as a home or international students. We require that applicants are under no restrictions regarding how long they can stay in the UK.

Our Values

Our shared, stated values help to define who we are and underpin everything we do: Ambition; Impact; Respect; and Community. Find out more here. We aim to create and maintain a culture in which everyone can work and study together and realise their full potential.

Diversity and Inclusion

Our equal opportunities and diversity monitoring has shown that women and minority ethnic groups are currently underrepresented within the university and so we actively encourage applications from eligible candidates from these groups.

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 Ali Nabavi
E: s.nabavi@cranfield.ac.uk 
T: +44 (0) 1234 754225

 
If you are eligible to apply for this studentship, please complete the online application form stating reference number: SWEE0250

For further information contact us today:
Admissions
T: +44 (0)1234 758082
E: studyenergy@cranfield.ac.uk