4 Year EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Carbon Capture and Storage, and Cleaner Fossil Energy

Led by The University of Nottingham in collaboration with Loughborough University, the University of Sheffield, the University of Birmingham and the British Geological Survey

This Industrial Doctorate Centre (IDC) will involve over 50 recognised academics in carbon capture & storage (CCS) and cleaner fossil energy to provide comprehensive supervisory capacity across the theme for 70 doctoral students. It will provide an innovative training programme co-created with our Industrial Partners to meet their advanced skills needs. This will provide the highly trained personnel needed to enable UK-based industry to tackle the challenges in implementing technologies to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power generation and other industrial uses of fossil fuels.

The strategic vision of the IDC is to develop a world-leading Centre for Industrial Doctoral Training focussed on delivering research leaders and next-generation innovators with broad economic, societal and contextual awareness, having strong technical skills and capable of operating in multi-disciplinary teams covering a range of knowledge transfer, deployment and policy roles. They will be able to analyse the overall economic context of projects and be aware of their social and ethical implications. These skills will enable them to contribute to stimulating UK-based industry to develop next-generation technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels and ultimately improve the UK's position globally through increased jobs and exports.

Key research themes include;

  • Carbon dioxide capture technologies
  • Carbon dioxide transport and storage
  • Power plant operation, fuel flexibility and simulation (including biomass and bio-CCS)
  • High-temperature power plant materials
  • Unconventional hydrocarbons

Engineering Doctorate Studentships

Up to 15 Engineering Doctorate postgraduate studentships starting October 2017 are available.. Students should be of high academic calibre and merit.

Students who satisfy the UK residency requirement will need either a first class or upper second class honours degree in a relevant subject such as: Chemical, Environmental or Mechanical Engineering, Chemistry, Materials Science, Metallurgy, Physics, Mathematics, Geology and Earth Science.
Up to 15 Engineering Doctorate postgraduate studentships starting October 2017 are available.

The EngD training provides:

  • An in-depth four year training programme
  • A non-taxed stipend of up to £18,000 per year; much higher than a conventional PhD
  • Approximately three years' extensive research time in industry
  • International travel for conferences and attending summer schools held in China, India and South Korea
  • Preparation for high-level careers in the energy sector

Industrial Involvement

Research Engineers will spend time working closely with a number of industrial sponsors, pursuing a research project based at one of the organisations:

Applications for Doctoral research are invited within and across these fields:

  • Air Products
  • Alstom Power
  • BF2RA (Biomass Fossil Fuel Research Alliance)
  • Caterpillar
  • Clean Coal Limited
  • CPL Industries
  • Doosan Power Systems
  • EDF
  • E.ON
  • EffecTech
  • Energy Technologies Institute
  • Innospec
  • Johnson Matthey
  • National Oilwell Varco
  • National Physical Laboratory
  • Progressive Energy
  • RWE nPower
  • SSE (Scottish and Southern Energy)
  • Tata Steel

Projects will match both the interests of the research engineer and the company.

Projects currently available for October 2017 start

There are a large number of sponsored projects available that are suitable for students with Engineering or Chemical Sciences backgrounds

Projects based at the University of Sheffield

Development of an ignition model approach using computational fluid dynamics for the combustion of pulverised coal

Worldwide consumption of energy has increased dramatically over the past 100 years and the combustion of fossil fuels has played a significant role in providing the required energy source. Coal-fired power generation currently accounts for approximately 30% of the total market energy share but unfortunately, the demand for energy outweighs the consumption of energy and approximately 1.3 billion people still remain without electricity. With a rising population the demand for electricity will also grow and coal is predicted to play a key part in meeting this future demand.

In a power plant, pulverised fuel is delivered through multiple burners into a furnace where combustion occurs. Ignition of pulverised fuel particles is the first stage in the combustion process where the particles are heated rapidly and a visible flame is developed. Successful ignition and flame propagation is important for achieving near burner flame stability. The ignition process depends on a number of properties including coal particle concentration, heating rate, surrounding gas, coal type and temperature. Improving the fundamental understanding of ignition phenomena can lead to better plant performance and flexibility by expanding the turn-down ratio, allowing for the application of different fuels (e.g. high ash, biomass), improving combustion efficiency and reducing environmental pollutants.

Improvements to plant flexibility and energy efficiency of modern coal-fired utility boilers increasingly rely on engineering modelling tools such as computational fluid dynamics (CFD). CFD can be used to assess performance and limitation of a burner but is limited by simplistic models representing the aerodynamics and combustion chemistry. An understanding is required to determine the ignition mechanism of solid-fuel particles and a model is needed to establish the possibility of ignition and flame propagation of a solid-fuel flame.

Cleaner Coal Technology

Coal-fired power generation currently accounts for approximately 30% of the total energy market share globally and contributes a significant portion of the total emissions to the atmosphere. However, due to the ever increasing demand for electricity, coal will continue to play a key part in meeting this future demand. Therefore, developing cleaner coal technologies, including supplementing with bioenergy and better interacting with renewable generations, are urgently required in order to cut the pollutant emissions from the power generation sector. With strong support from industry, two new areas of cutting edge research in cleaner coal technologies are available as follows:

(i) Developing new predictive tools for improving the combustion process of coal/biomass fuels

Ignition of pulverised fuel is the first stage in the combustion process. Successful ignition is important for achieving flame stability, improving combustion efficiency and reducing environmental pollutants. Improving the fundamental understanding of ignition phenomena is required to determine the ignition mechanism of solid-fuel particles and this increasingly relies on engineering computer modelling. This project aims to develop a deeper understanding into the mechanisms of pulverised solid fuel ignition, and to develop a predictive fuel ignition model for an industrial burner configuration optimisation. This can result in improvements to plant flexibility and energy efficiency of modern coal-fired utility boilers to meet the demands of more flexible power generation and reduced pollutant emissions from power generation.

(ii) Combustion technology for low volatile coals

Volatile combustion is typically an important first stage of coal combustion that plays an important part in flame stability and overall combustion process. However, little is known about the combustion of very low volatile fuels in large scale power plant furnaces which are used in some power plants. Significant issues exist with the efficient combustion of such coals using the traditional combustion technologies and this leads to poor plant performance and high pollutant emissions. This project aims to investigate the unique characteristics of combustion of very low volatile content coals using cutting edge experimental and computer modelling techniques. The research is expected to fill the important gaps in knowledge of combustion of low volatile coal and potentially lead to innovative design of burners for such coals and substantially increase the efficiency and flexibility of coal-fired power plants.

Oxygen enhanced gas desulphuriation

Gas desulphurizing is an important process in waste gas treatment process units found in many chemical processing industries, such as in oil refineries and gasification plants. It converts highly toxic hydrogen sulphide gas into harmless elemental sulphur to achieve gas cleaning. This project investigates an advanced oxygen enrichment technology to enhance the desulphurizing process and to achieve energy savings and increased contaminant destruction. Computational modelling will be performed to assess the oxy-acid gas reaction processes involving multiple chemical reaction kinetics. The research will significantly improve the current understanding and the modelling capability of the desulphurizing process involving gas streams with more complex chemical compositions and potentially lead to an improved reactor design for the process.

Energy recovery from waste through advanced gasification technology

Gasification is an advanced thermal treatment technology that converts carbon containing materials into syngas for downstream use, e.g. generating energy. Gasification is one of the key technologies available which will help meet these challenges to meet the energy needs while minimizing the impact on the environment. This project instigates an emerging waste recovery and treatment technology using advanced gasification processes that can recover the useful materials in the waste in addition to harvesting the energy. Computational modelling will be used to simulate and analysis the gasification processes, including the chemical processes involved. This will provide a better understanding of the gasification and make the technology perform in an economically competitive and environmentally manner.

The EngD opportunity aims to develop a deeper understanding into the mechanisms of pulverised solid fuel ignition, the flammability limits and under what conditions flame propagation will occur. The EngD is expected to develop an ignition model approach for use in CFD which will establish the regions of ignition and probability of flame propagation from an industrial burner configuration.

How do I Find Out more Information?

For further information please contact Professor Derek B Ingham (phone: 0114 21 57215)

How do I Apply?

To apply, send a CV with a covering letter to Dr. Anup Patel, Centre Manager of the Industrial Doctorate Centre in Carbon Capture and Storage, and Cleaner Fossil Energy. Email: ccscfe@nottingham.ac.uk