PhD Studentship - Fundamental Understanding of the Use of Biomass in a Novel Low Carbon, Low Energy Alternative Ironmaking Process

University of Warwick

Funding: 3.5 years for UK/EU students, plus industrial top up

Supervisors: Dr Zushu Li (WMG), Professor Sridhar Seetharaman (WMG), Koen Meijer (Tata Steel Europe)

Supporting company: Tata Steel Europe

Start Date: October 2017

Project overview

An exciting opportunity to work as part of our Advanced Steel Research Centre at WMG, University of Warwick, an internationally leading centre for steel research. The ASRC is located in the new Advanced Manufacturing and Materials building and has benefited from a multi-million pound investment in new equipment.

The steel industry is facing significant challenges in achieving and sustaining competitiveness, such as strict environment regulations, new energy sources, global overcapacity, and competition from other materials. In particular, for the European steel industry, the EU target of the 80-95% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2050 compared to 1990 for European industry is far beyond the reach of the steel sector. To create an industry that will be sustainable for the future, extraction of metals needs to be lean in energy, low in C footprint and flexible with regard to raw material/energy sources. The use of biomass, a renewable carbon has the potential substantially to reduce further the CO2 emissions in a low carbon, low energy alternative iron making process under active development.

The aim of this PhD project is to advance fundamental understanding and provide recommendations on physical and chemical characteristics (properties) of the biomass for its use in the novel alternative iron making process. These properties include particle size, volatile matter, moisture, ash, reactivity of char, etc. The project will also reveal the reactions of biomass (compared to injected coals) with slag and metal systems at high temperatures.  This will be achieved by using specifically designed modern experimental techniques to study the reactions in the gas-slag-metal systems at high temperatures, carrying out thermodynamic and kinetic simulations for the systems studied, and characterising the samples and product gases generated with the aid of advanced characterisation facilities in the ASRC.

The project provides an outstanding opportunity to be involved in cutting-edge research of next generation sustainable steel manufacturing, and gives valuable exposure to a major area of industry - Tata Steel Europe by working closely with industrial sponsor. This project is fully sponsored by Tata Steel Europe.

Entry Requirements

Candidates should have a minimum of an upper second (2.1) honours degree (or equivalent) in Materials Sciences (including Metallurgy, Ceramics), Chemical Engineering, Chemistry, Geology or related disciplines. A good command of English is essential for the position.


Funding is available for UK/EU students. A stipend of £14,296 will be paid per annum for 3.5 years. An industrial top up of £3,000 will also be provided, per annum.

To apply

For informal inquiries about the project, please contact Dr Zushu Li by email at in the first instance.

To apply please complete our online enquiry form and upload your CV.

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