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Renewable Energy from Waste: Plasma-assisted Pre-treatment of Municipal Solid Waste for Enhanced Biogas Generation

Loughborough University - Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering and Chemical Engineering

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Loughborough
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students, International Students
Funding amount: Not Specified
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 14th January 2022
Closes: 6th March 2022
Reference: ABCE22/TR
 

Qualification type: PhD

Location: Loughborough

Start date: October 2022, January 2023

Closing date: 6 March 2022

Overview

Loughborough University is a top-ten rated university in England for research intensity (REF 2014). In choosing Loughborough for your research, you’ll work alongside academics who are leaders in their field. You will benefit from comprehensive support and guidance from our Doctoral College, including tailored careers advice, to help you succeed in your research and future career. Find out more.

The School of Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering aims to be the world’s leading integrated centre for built environment research and education, attending to the entire lifecycle of both buildings and infrastructure through our research, teaching and enterprise programmes. The School boasts world class facilities, with £1.4m recently invested in its 3,000m2 laboratory and one of the fastest High-Performance Computer clusters in the UK.

Our School is a place where diverse perspectives, cultures and values are accepted, appreciated, and celebrated. In the past ten years, we have averaged a successful PhD completion every two weeks, with doctoral graduates coming from 48 different countries.

Project details

Depletion of fossil resources, and the adverse environmental impacts associated with them, are significant drivers for reducing our reliance on oil-based fuels and developing bio-derived fuels. The organic fraction of municipal solid waste (MSW) is a rich resource, which can be converted to much-needed energy and chemicals. Biogas generation via anaerobic digestion of MSW will play a key role in aligning the energy sector to a net-zero strategy by 2050.

Even though large amounts of waste are generated globally, only a small fraction of this waste’s energy is recovered. This energy recovery can be significantly enhanced by developing economically viable pre-treatment technologies. The supervisory team has developed a novel microbubble-plasma reactor for pre-treatment of such waste materials and demonstrated that approximately 20-fold improvement in energy consumption is possible over widely used steam explosion pre-treatment. This pre-treatment method will help unlock the biogas generation potential of MSW and other difficult to biodegrade, lignin-rich waste material.

Therefore, the main aim of this PhD project is to study the effect of highly reactive species produced by plasma on a wide variety of waste substrates containing different levels of lignin and strategise ways to improve biogas yields in anaerobic digestion. This project will be mainly experimental (industry involved), but there is scope for numerical simulations.

Entry requirements

Applicants should have, or expect to achieve, at least a 2:1 honours degree (or equivalent international qualification) in a relevant discipline. A relevant master’s degree and/or employment experience would be an advantage.

Funding information

The three-year studentship provides a tax-free stipend of £15,609 a year (2021/22 rates – stipend will rise in line with the level set by the Research Council) for the duration of the studentship plus tuition fees at the UK rate. International students may apply for these positions; funding will cover tuition fees at the international rate in full, but the student will be responsible for their own living costs (estimated at £15,000 per year).

How to apply

All applications should be made online and must include a research proposal. Under programme name, please select 'Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering'. Please quote reference number: ABCE22/TR.

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