Resource and energy recovery from sewage sludge by optimised advanced thermal conversion process PhD

Cranfield, Bedford
26 May 2021
30 Jun 2021
Contract Type
Full Time

Enhance funded opportunity: Resource and energy recovery from sewage sludge by optimised advanced thermal conversion process control PhD

This exciting fully funded PhD, with an enhanced stipend of £19,000 per annum, will deliver innovative science to address future sludge management challenges by developing new understanding of the advanced thermal conversion of sewage sludges to valuable products. This research project will increase the resilience and sustainability of the water industry by contributing to future strategies in the management of sludges and recovering commodities as part of a circular economy and the drive to become carbon neutral.

This PhD position will address emerging challenges in the future management of sewage sludges. The aim of this project is to enable the production of high value products and control & reduction of carbon equivalent and other emissions from advanced thermal treatment of sewage sludges. This will be achieved by understanding the chemical and thermal processes in a specific facility and determining which feedstock characteristics and process parameters influence the gas yield and composition. Whilst the project will include an extensive understanding of current and future appetite for high-value products from gases from ATC technologies, gas cleaning and upgrading options will be the primary aspects of the project, with comprehensive analysis of feedstock and process control analysed to process the gases produced into high-value products.


The Water Infrastructure and Resilience Centre for Doctoral Training (WIRe CDT) is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and companies who sponsor research projects to train 60 PhD students to deliver a resilient water future.

Globally, one in four cities is facing water stress, and the projected demand for water in 2050 is set to increase by 55%. Placing an inspirational student experience at the centre of our delivery model, the Water Infrastructure and Resilience Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) will nurture a new generation of research leaders to provide the multi-disciplinary, disruptive thinking to enhance the resilience of new and existing water infrastructure. In this context, the CDT will seek to improve the resilience of water infrastructure which conveys and treats water and wastewater as well as the impacts of water on other infrastructure systems which provide vital public services in urban environments.

The need for the CDT is simple: water infrastructure is fundamental to our society and economy in providing benefit from water as a vital resource and in managing risks from water hazards, such as wastewater, floods, droughts and environmental pollution. Recent water infrastructure failures caused by climate change have provided strong reminders of our need to manage these assets against the forces of nature. The need for resilient water systems has never been greater and more recognised in the context of our industrial infrastructure networks and facilities for water supply, wastewater treatment and urban drainage. Similarly, safeguarding critical infrastructure in key sectors such as transport, energy and waste from the impacts of water has never been more important.

Centred around unique and world-leading water infrastructure facilities, and building on an internationally-renowned research consortium (Cranfield University, the University of Sheffield and Newcastle University), the CDT will produce scientists and engineers to deliver the innovative and disruptive thinking for a resilient water infrastructure future. This will be achieved through delivery of an inspirational and relevant and end user-led training programme for researchers.

Being a PhD student in the WIRe programme is a special and unique experience, offering opportunities beyond most doctoral training. In return you will need to be fully committed to the CDT, attending an induction semester at Cranfield University, a transferable skills programme and a Summer Challenge. 

Our partners are drawn from a range of leading sector and professional organisations and have been selected to provide targeted contributions and added value to the CDT.


Entry requirements:

Applicants should have a minimum equivalent to a UK upper second class degree (2.1) and preferably an MSc in a relevant subject such as chemistry or chemical engineering. The ideal candidate should have some understanding of thermal treatment technologies, demonstrate an ability to plan and deliver practical test work and be proficient in analysing experimental data. The candidate should be self-motivated, have good communication skills for regular interaction with other stakeholders, with an interest in applied scientific research. Prior experience in the energy or water sectors would be advantageous but is not essential.

The studentship is open to UK and international students (including EU countries) however due to funding rules, no more than 30% of the projects in this cohort can be allocated to international students.

Start date: 27 Sep 2021

Application deadline: 30 Jun 2021

Duration of award: 4 years

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