PhD Studentship, Engineering and Applied Science

Birmingham, United Kingdom
03 Jul 2018
End of advertisement period
03 Aug 2018
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Full Time

Development of a techno-economic model to identify the optimum stage for biomass fractionation within European biorefineries

Applications are invited for a three year Postgraduate studentship, supported by the School of Engineering and Applied Science, to be undertaken within the Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry and the European Bioenergy Research Institute at Aston University.  The successful applicant will join an established research group working on bioenergy. The project will be supervised by Dr Katie Chong with co-supervision by Professor Tony Bridgwater.

The position is available to start in October 2018, January 2019, April 2019 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

Overseas Applicants

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, £12,290 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

The aim of the project is to develop a comprehensive techno-economic model in order to identify the optimum stage for fractionation of biomass within a biorefinery. Biomass consists of cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin which may be processed into chemicals, fuels and/or energy within an integrated process scheme called a biorefinery. The processes may be chemical, biochemical or thermochemical, or a combination of these. Due to concerns over climate change there has been significant research effort on the processing of biomass into value added products. Biomass offers the only renewable route for producing fuels and chemicals, as there is no other source of renewable carbon. Finding the most efficient way to process biomass is becoming increasingly important as competition for feedstocks increases due to the development of bio-based industry within Europe.

A solution to this challenge would be particularly useful to help guide future research direction and to provide valuable information about scale-up and biorefinery feasibility. There is the requirement to make biorefineries more cost-competitive in order to encourage industrial development. The finished model will be aimed at non-specialist users to make it more accessible to the wider research community. It will aid the economic success and development of the biorefinery industry.

The student will be part of the Energy Research Accelerator (ERA) Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP)

Person Specification

The successful applicant should have a first class or upper second class honours degree or equivalent qualification in Chemical Engineering. Preferred skill requirements include knowledge/experience of process modelling, process design and core chemical engineering operations.

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, recognised recently by a prestigious Silver Award to EAS, and we pride ourselves on our vibrant, friendly and supportive working environment and family atmosphere.

For informal enquiries about this project and other opportunities within the European Bioenergy Research Institute contact Dr Katie Chong by email 

The online application form, reference forms and details of entry requirements, including English language are available here 

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.

Further particulars and application forms are available in alternative formats on request i.e. large print, Braille, tape or CD Rom.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact HR via

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