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Doctor of Engineering (EngD): Biomass Densification for Minimal Drying Energy and Optimised Pellet Quality

University of Nottingham - Engineering

Qualification Type: Professional Doctorate
Location: Nottingham
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students
Funding amount: An enhanced tax free stipend of £18,527 p.a.
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 3rd June 2019
Closes: 3rd September 2019
Reference: ENG1282

Location: UK Other

We are seeking a post-graduate research student for a 4 year Engineering Doctorate (EngD) exploring biomass densification starting in October 2019. The EngD will be based at the University of Nottingham.

The project will include an enhanced tax free stipend of £18,527 p.a. over 4 years, plus fees paid. The project is sponsored by the Biomass Fossil Fuel Research Alliance (BF2RA) with anticipated industry supervision from Drax Power Ltd.


The project will 

  • Develop a novel holistic biomass pelleting process, aiming to minimise drying energy and improve pellet quality. 
  • Explore the potential to incorporate heat treatments such as microwave torrefaction and pelleting into one system, looking at how high moisture contents biomasses can be densified to reduce drying and transport requirements.
  • Include experimental characterisation of the biomass resources and the production of biomass pellets on a small scale. The project will involve working with the industrial sponsor to understand the pelleting process, the environment in which biomass pellets are produced, and the challenges involved in full-scale operations. 
  • Assess the industrial system options with Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) to find and identify the optimal low energy process to compare to existing systems. In collaboration with the industrial partner, the objective will be to implement the novel drying system on a full-scale system.

Candidate information:

EngD is an alternative to a traditional PhD aimed at students wanting a career in industry or an industrially focused PhD. Students will conduct their research in academia and industry, spending time working directly with a company and receiving advanced training from a broad portfolio of technical and business courses.

Applicants Criteria:

  • First or Upper-second degree at Master’s level (or equivalent) in Mechanical or Chemical Engineering and be highly motivated. 
  • Broad interests in renewable and low carbon technologies, material characterisation, manufacturing processes and/or life cycle assessment. 
  • A desire to gain international industrial experience during the course of the EngD. 
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills, which will be essential for collaborations, disseminating the results via journal publications and attendance at international conferences.

Company Information:

BF2RA is funded by a consortium of UK energy providers aiming to promote research and other scientific studies into the production, distribution and use of biomass and fossil fuel and their derivatives, and the minimisation of by-products arising from the use of biomass and fossil fuel and to assess the environmental impact caused by such materials and the development of products thereof.

This project is available only to UK/EU applicants.

This 4-year (including CDT taught-courses) project is funded by the EPSRC CDT in Resilient Decarbonised Fuel Energy Systems Centre for Doctoral Training in the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Nottingham and the Industrial Sponsor BF2RA. The annual tax free stipend is £18,527 which includes an enhancement from the Industrial Sponsor. A substantial consumables and equipment budget is provided by a concurrent EPSRC grant and all fees are paid. Travel funding for conference presentations is available.

To apply please email a CV to Orla Williams (

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