Phd Studentship, Experimental Study of Biomass Fractionation Into High-value Fuels and Chemicals

Birmingham, United Kingdom
20 Mar 2019
End of advertisement period
08 Apr 2019
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Full Time

Engineering and Applied Science - Studentships

Location:  Aston University Main Campus
Contract Type:  Fixed Term (for 3 years)
Basis:  Full Time
Closing Date:  23.59 hours BST on Monday 08 April 2019
Interview Date:  To be confirmed  

Applications are invited for a three year Postgraduate studentship, supported by the School of Engineering and Applied Science, to be undertaken within the European Bioenergy Research Institute (EBRI) at Aston University. The successful applicant will join an established experimental group working on thermal and catalytic biomass conversion processes for bio-fuels and bio-chemicals.

The position is available to start in April or July 2019 (subject to negotiation)

Financial Support

This studentship includes a fee bursary to cover the home/EU fees rate plus a maintenance allowance of £14,777 in 2018/19.

Applicants from outside the EU may apply for this studentship but will need to pay the difference between the ‘Home/EU’ and the ‘Overseas’ tuition fees, currently this is £12,290 per annum in 2018/19.

As part of the application you will be required to confirm that you have applied for, or, secured this additional funding.

Background of the Project

Considering the shortage of fossil fuels and the increasing demand for fuels and chemicals, it has been necessary to explore alternative sources in order to cope with the fossil fuel deficit. Biomass is a widely available renewable feedstock, which can be processed to obtain bio-fuels or bio-chemicals.

This studentship will explore different physical and chemical processing stages for biomass, in order to obtain high-value fuels and chemicals. Particularly focusing on the upgrading of pyrolysis products. The combination of biomass conversion and products upgrading, is a common practice in biorefineries, where biomass is fractionated to make high-value products for cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, transportation, energy sector, construction, etc. Diverse experimental and analytic techniques will be used in combination in order to characterise and optimise both feedstocks and products.

This studentship is offered in association with the Energy Research Accelerator (ERA) collaboration, which is designed to provide scholars with a broader grounding in their research area during their PhD. Some additional components of research training and specially tailored events will be provided by ERA.

Person Specification

The successful applicant should have a first class or upper second class honours degree or equivalent qualification in Chemical Engineering or a closely related area. Preferred skill requirements include knowledge/experience of thermochemical processing of biomass and biomass model compounds, acid hydrolysis, catalytic process design and characterisation, bio-fuels, bio-chemicals, and biorefineries.

We would particularly like to encourage applications from women seeking to progress their academic careers. Aston University is committed to the principles of the Athena SWAN Charter, recently recognised by a prestigious Silver Award to EAS, and we pride ourselves on our vibrant, friendly and supportive environment and family atmosphere.

For informal enquiries about this project and other opportunities within the European Bioenergy Research Institute (EBRI), contact Dr Paula Blanco by email:

If you require further information about the application process please contact the Postgraduate Admissions team at 

Applications must also be accompanied by a research proposal giving an overview of the main themes of the research, and explaining how your knowledge and experience will benefit the project.

Details of how to write your project proposal are also included in the How to Apply section here

(Please note that we reserve the right to close this vacancy early should a suitable candidate be found).

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact HR via particulars and application forms are available in alternative formats on request i.e. large print, Braille, tape or CD Rom.