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PhD Studentship: Utilising Non-Recyclable Waste for Effective Carbon Capture

University of Hull

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Kingston upon Hull
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students, International Students
Funding amount: From £18,622 per annum (22/23 rate)
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 30th November 2023
Closes: 5th January 2024

Supervisors: Dr Amthal Al-Gailani, Dr Martin J. Taylor, Dr Ben W. Kolosz

Enquiries: eei@hull.ac.uk

Project description:

An energy-driven economy and growing demand through population expansion have consumed substantial fossil fuels, leading to an exponential increase in carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration in the atmosphere. CO2 is the primary driver of climate change and, hence, global warming and ocean acidification, affecting the entire world’s ecosystem. Rising CO2 concentration in the atmosphere leads to various environmental consequences, such as rising temperatures, extreme weather events, and sea level rise. Regarding ocean acidification, the consequences are far-reaching and pose significant threats to marine organisms and ecosystems, including reducing the growth of coral reefs, shellfish and phytoplankton. In addition, this change in ocean chemistry can affect non-calcifying organisms, such as fish’s ability to detect predators. Therefore, developing a green, simple, cost-effective CO2 capture method has become a priority.

In order to phase out fossil fuels and the associated CO2 emissions, non-recyclable solid waste has been converted into energy using various thermal decomposition processes, such as combustion and gasification, reducing landfilling. Landfilling non-recyclable municipal solid wastes has several environmental consequences, such as groundwater and soil contamination with heavy metals, greenhouse gas emissions and resource depletion. Waste disposal represents a missed opportunity for energy conservation and a more sustainable approach to waste management. Other than direct use in waste-to-energy processing, pyrolysis can be carried out to generate bio-oil, a medium calorific fuel gas and a solid black residue known as biochar, which has gained attention as an adsorbent material for CO2.

The industrialisation of non-carbon adsorbents, such as zeolites and metal-organic-frameworks, is still challenging due to their moisture sensitivity, operating conditions sensitivity, and complex/expensive manufacturing. Regarding carbon adsorbents, most studies have used biochar derived from wood waste, agricultural residues, animal manure and aquatic plants. Unlike non-recyclable municipal solid wastes, many of these biomass sources have a minimal environmental impact or are beneficial as animal feed, fertilisers and environmental remediation.

Aim and Objectives

This project aims to produce customisable biochars with a defined pore structure from Subcoal for COsequestration after modifying the biochar’s internal structure with CO2 adsorption sites. Furthermore, the surface functional groups and adsorption capacity on the Subcoal biochar will be optimised using unique activation methods to obtain an effective adsorbent for CO capture. The biochar will be obtained from Subcoal pyrolysis as a cost-effective and renewable adsorbent. As a result, it links directly with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals 3, 6, 13, 14, 15 and 17.

Eligibility:

  • Minimum 2:1 Bachelors’ degree in a field linked to the PhD project. Note that we have recruited successful PhD candidates that changed fields completely. Quite often your skills are more important than specific knowledge that you have.
  • You can apply straight after a Bachelors’ degree, but you will need to show how you are competitive with those with a Masters:
  • Draw on skills you have developed in situations other than your undergraduate project e.g. student work experience, programming etc.

Apply now, by clicking the 'Apply' button, above.

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