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PhD Studentship: Towards a Net-zero Supply Chain for the Food Industry

University of Birmingham - School of Chemical Engineering

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Birmingham
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students, International Students
Funding amount: £15,609 per annum tax free
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 27th October 2021
Closes: 25th January 2022

Globally, the food system accounted for about 30% of total energy consumption and 20% of GHG emissions in 2011 (FAO, 2016). The supply chain, especially cold chain (temperature-controlled supply chain, including fridge, freezer, refrigerated truck/van cold box etc.) is a key player in ensuring food quality and safety. However, temperature-controlled processing, distribution and storage, often based on inefficient equipment and protocols, have a significant environmental impact. The food industry is the largest manufacturing sector in the UK and is predicted to increase with the population growth. Conventional food cold chains are energy intensive and often use high-GWP (Global Warming Potential) refrigerants. To achieve UK’s zero-carbon emissions target by 2050, the food supply chain including cooling needs to be decarbonised. How the decarbonisation will be achieved has significant implication for the economy, food and drink industry, social wellbeing, food security and energy system.

In this context, the overall aim of this project would be to identify those food manufacturing and supply scenarios that would lead to successful strategies for the transition to net-zero food supply chains. The student will need to collect both quantitative and qualitative data to identify technical and non-technical drivers of demand for food cold-chain, and estimate the energy use and emissions up to 2050.

The project will combine techno-economic, environmental, social and policy aspects in an integrated approach for the design and evaluation of decarbonisation solutions for the supply chain in the food sector, focusing on food processing and distribution stages and looking at clean technologies and specific frozen/refrigerated foods across manufacturing scales and logistic scenarios. These objectives require the development and implementation of suitable simulation/optimisation and decision-making tools, for which a high level of engineering and computational competence, coupled with an adequate knowledge of (bio)food systems and/or energy policy systems, is desirable.

Degree requirements:

The candidate should be a UK citizen/EU with settled status, and should have a postgraduate degree or at least a strong upper second-class (2.1) undergraduate degree in Chemical Engineering or another suitable branch of Engineering/Energy/Sustainability. Candidates with knowledge and experiences in whole systems analysis are preferred. Fluent English speaking and writing are required.

Contacts:

Applications comprising a detailed CV, cover letter, the names and addresses of two referees (and any supporting transcripts, if available) should be sent by email to Dr Estefania Lopez-Quiroga (e.lopez-quiroga@bham.ac.uk)  and Dr Xinfang Wang (x.wang.10@bham.ac.uk) who would also welcome informal enquiries. The successful applicant will be required subsequently to submit a standard application to the University.

Full funding is available to support a PhD research student (including UK level university tuition fees and a scholarship of £15,609 per annum tax free) starting early 2022. International students are welcome to apply but will need to pay for the gap (£19,080 per year) between international student tuition fee and UK tuition fee themselves, or secure match funding from other sources. 

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