|Funding for:||UK Students|
|Funding amount:||Not Specified|
|Placed On:||3rd February 2023|
|Closes:||26th April 2023|
Award type: PhD
Start date: 25th September 2023
Duration: 4 years
Supervisors- 1st Supervisor: Ewan McAdam 2nd Supervisor: Yadira Bajon-Fernandez, Mingming Zhu
Reference No: SWEE0211
Sponsored by EPSRC, Anglian Water, Northumbrian Water, Severn Trent Water and Thames Water, this studentship will provide a bursary of up to £19,000 (tax free) plus fees* for four years
Biomethane can displace natural gas for heating and fossil fuels for transport. As a sustainable low carbon fuel, biomethane is therefore critical to delivering net-zero in the UK. This PhD seeks to expand biomethane production from the water industry by converting carbon dioxide (CO2) in biogas to methane with innovative photocatalytic membrane technology. The energy produced can be almost doubled with the technology proposed, which simultaneously ‘upgrades’ biogas to biomethane, to create a significant competitive advantage. The candidate will receive an attractive financial package (£19K/annum (tax free) bursary; UK fees paid*) from sponsors EPSRC, Anglian, Northumbrian, Severn Trent and Thames Water, making this an opportunity to work at the intersection of science led research and industry to create real world impact.
Decarbonising heat and vehicle fuels are the most difficult challenges in delivering net-zero for the UK by 2050. Biomethane already has the potential to replace 18% of natural gas consumption. Production capacity is set to grow further through the UK Green Gas Support Scheme (2021-) to deliver additional carbon savings of 21.6MtCO2E. The UK water industry is a primary producer of biogas in the UK and has delivered the World’s first sector wide commitment to deliver net-zero by 2030. Increasing biomethane production is one of the key options to delivering this ambitious strategy, where biomethane can also be used as a low carbon alternative to vehicle fuels.
One method to increase biomethane production is to transform the carbon dioxide present in biogas to methane (‘methanation’). This can improve methane production capacity from existing installations by almost 100%, which can reduce the cost of expanding capacity and accelerate the transition to net-zero.
We are therefore developing an innovative membrane technology to facilitate photocatalytic methanation for the efficient transformation of CO2 to methane. The membrane provides selective transport of CO2 from biogas into water comprising a concentrated photocatalyst slurry which uses light to excite electrons at the catalyst surface. The catalyst reacts with water to create the hydrogen needed for reaction and mediates the transformation of CO2 (and H2) to methane. The process will permit biomethane production, and CO2 methanation within one technology, which does not rely on the costly production of hydrogen, or expensive catalysts for processing. This unique configuration therefore creates a low-resource route to biomethane expansion which can use renewable power to create a highly attractive carbon negative biomethane fuel.
Applicants should have a first or second class UK honours degree in chemical engineering, chemistry, environmental engineering, environmental science or a related discipline.
To be eligible for this funding, applicants must be a UK national.
How to apply
For further information:
Professor Ewan McAdam
Please complete the online application form.
Keywords: water engineering; membranes, climate change; decarbonisation; energy and water; process technology; sustainability development goals; anaerobic; net zero; process engineering; process chemistry; catalyst; photocatalyst; green technology; sustainability
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