PhD Studentship: Biomethanisation of CO2 for Energy Storage and Efficient Carbon Conversion

University of Southampton - Water & Environmental Engineering Group

There is concern amongst electricity providers that the growth of renewables (wind, solar radiation) could destabilise the grid as supplies cannot be controlled. Currently one solution for this is storage of electrolytically-produced H2: this has the disadvantages of low volumetric energy density and limited compatibility with distribution systems. Biomethanisation of CO2 from flue gas or biogas by H2 provides a fuel gas with a higher energy density that can be fed directly into natural gas grids, or compressed and used locally or as a biofuel in the transport sector. The current work will investigate the approaches to optimising the functionality of unit processes for biomethanisation of CO2, with a focus on several interlinked process control parameters: mass transfer, buffering capacity and trace element supplementation. A specific aim of this study is to identify the factors that determine or influence the catabolic pathways which use CO2 and H2 as substrates, i.e. hydrogenotrophic methanogenesis and homoacetogenesis, and how these can be used to promote highly effective in-situ biogas upgrading in anaerobic digesters. The work will be carried out in parallel with a 4-year RCUK-funded IB Catalyst project, providing opportunities to use advanced tools and models to link microbial community functionality with system performance and engineering optimisation.  

The Candidate should have, or be expected to achieve, a first class honours or 2:1 degree qualification (or equivalent) in a relevant discipline (environmental engineering, environmental chemistry, microbiology, electrochemistry). A relevant Master’s degree and/or experience would be desirable but not a prerequisite.  

This project is funded by EPSRC DTP studentship and only UK or EU candidates are eligible. The Candidate will be joining in Water and Environmental Engineering Research Group that will provide in-house training for this project. For further information on the research group, please visit: http://www.bioenergy.soton.ac.uk and http://www.facebook.com/environmental.lab.university.of.southampton.  

If you wish to discuss any details of the project informally, please contact Dr Sonia Heaven or Dr Yue Zhang, Water and Environmental Engineering research group, Email: sh7@soton.ac.uk or Y.Zhang@soton.ac.uk, Tel: +44 (0) 2380 592845.  

Please be aware that the academic selectors review applications as soon as they are received so please make sure to submit your application for consideration as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.  

This project is being run in participation with the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Sustainable Infrastructure Systems (View Website). For details of our 4 Year PhD programme and further projects, please see http://www.cdt-sis.soton.ac.uk/

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Type / Role:

PhD

Location(s):

South East England