PhD Studentship: Novel Catalytic Hydrothermal Process for Valorisation of Biorefinery Lignin

Aston University - School of Engineering and Applied Science

Applications are invited for a three year Postgraduate studentship, supported by the School of Engineering and Applied Science, to be undertaken within the European Bioenergy Research Institute (EBRI) at Aston University.  The successful applicant will join an established experimental group working on catalytic process design for bioenergy. 

The position is available to start in January, 2017 (subject to negotiation)

Financial Support

This studentship includes a fee bursary to cover the home/EU fees rate plus a maintenance allowance (£15,850 in 2016/17).

Applicants from outside the EU may apply for this studentship but will need to pay the difference between the ‘Home/EU’ and the ‘Overseas’ tuition fees currently this is £11,729 in 2016/17. As part of the application you will be required to confirm that you have applied for, or secured this additional funding.

Background of the Project

With global supplies of readily available fossil fuels dwindling, there is an urgent need to understand the principles governing the production of ‘drop-in’ alternative fuels and chemicals from suitable sustainable resources. Biomass is considered as the best sustainable resource due to its vast abundance and potential for yielding chemicals and fuels with similar properties to those obtained currently from non-renewable resources.  This is critical to ensure that the impending transition to a global low-carbon economy is compatible with existing technologies adopted by modern society, and hence minimising changes to current lifestyles. The goal of the studentship is to undertake fundamental research on the development and application of multifunctional earth abundant catalysts for the conversion of lignin-rich residues from lignocellulosic biorefineries into aromatic chemicals, with a view to modelling and designing a commercial process.

This studentship is offered under the auspices of the Midlands Energy Research Accelerator collaboration ( and some components of research training may be provided by the partner institutions.

Person Specification

The successful applicant should have a first class or upper second class honours degree or equivalent qualification in Chemical Engineering.  Preferred skill requirements include knowledge/experience of catalysis, process modelling, catalytic process design, thermochemical processing of biomass and biomass model compound. 

We would particularly like to encourage applications from women seeking to progress their academic careers.  Aston University is committed to the principles of the Athena SWAN Charter, recognised recently by a prestigious Silver Award to EAS, and we pride ourselves on our vibrant, friendly and supportive working environment and family atmosphere.

For initial enquiries about this project prior to application and other opportunities within the EBRI, contact Dr Jude Onwudili by email;

The online application form, reference forms and details of entry requirements, including English language are available here.

Applications must also be accompanied by a research proposal giving an overview of the main themes of the research, and explaining how your knowledge and experience will benefit the project.

Details of how to write your project proposal are also included in the How to Apply section.

Closing Date: 14 November 2016

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Midlands of England