• Doctor of Engineering (EngD): Biomass Densification for Minimal Drying Energy and Optimised Pellet Quality

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    • Post Author

      Lucy Straker

      IFRF Administration & Communication Coordinator

Above: Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels

The University of Nottingham is seeking a post-graduate research student for a four-year Engineering Doctorate (EngD) exploring biomass densification starting in October 2019. The EngD will be based in the Resilient Decarbonised Fuel Energy Systems Centre for Doctoral Training in the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Nottingham.

The project will include an enhanced tax-free stipend of £18,527 p.a. over four years, plus fees paid. The project is sponsored by the Biomass Fossil Fuel Research Alliance (BF2RA) with anticipated industry supervision from Drax Power Ltd.


The project will develop a novel holistic biomass pelleting process, which will aim to minimise drying energy and improve pellet quality. The project will explore the potential to incorporate heat treatments such as microwave torrefaction and pelleting into one system and look at how high moisture contents biomasses can be densified to reduce drying and transport requirements. The project will include experimental characterisation of the biomass resources and the production of biomass pellets on a small scale.

The project will involve working with the industrial sponsor to understand the pelleting process, the environment in which biomass pellets are produced, and the challenges involved in full-scale operations. By assessing the industrial system options with Life Cycle Analysis (LCA), the optimal low energy process can be identified and compared to existing systems. In collaboration with the industrial partner, the objective will be to implement the novel drying system on a full-scale system during the project.

Candidate information

The EngD is an alternative to a traditional PhD aimed at students wanting a career in industry or an industrially focused PhD. Students will conduct their research in academia and industry, and spend time working directly with a company in addition to receiving advanced-level training from a broad portfolio of technical and business courses. On completion students are awarded the PhD-equivalent EngD.

Applicants Criteria

Applicants are expected to have obtained (or be heading for) a First or Upper-second degree at Master’s level (or equivalent) in Mechanical or Chemical Engineering and be highly motivated. Applicants should have broad interests in renewable and low carbon technologies, material characterisation, manufacturing processes and/or life cycle assessment. Furthermore, the applicant should have a desire to gain international industrial experience during the EngD. Applicants should also be able to demonstrate excellent written and oral communication skills, which will be essential for collaborations, disseminating the results via journal publications and attendance at international conferences.

Company Information

BF2RA is funded by a consortium of UK energy providers. Its aim is to promote research and other scientific studies into the production, distribution and use of biomass and fossil fuel and their derivatives, and the minimisation of by-products arising from the use of biomass and fossil fuel and to assess the environmental impact caused by such materials and the development of products thereof.

Funding Notes

The EngD project is available only to UK/EU applicants.

This four-year (including CDT taught-courses) project is funded jointly by the EPSRC CDT in Resilient Decarbonised Fuel Energy Systems Centre for Doctoral Training in the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Nottingham and the Industrial Sponsor BF2RA. The annual tax-free stipend is £18,527 which includes an enhancement from the Industrial Sponsor. A substantial consumables and equipment budget are provided by a concurrent EPSRC grant and all fees are paid. Travel funding for conference presentations is also available.

More information is available here.