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Valorisation of biomass for sustainable production of fuels and chemicals

We are recruiting new Doctoral Researchers to our EPSRC funded Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) PhD studentships starting 1 October 2023. Applications are invited for the project Valorisation of biomass for sustainable production of fuels and chemicals

Successful applicants will receive an annual stipend (bursary) of approximately £19,668, including inner London weighting, plus payment of their full-time home tuition fees for a period of 42 months (3.5 years).

You should be eligible for home (UK) tuition fees there are a very limited number (no more than three) of studentships available to overseas applicants, including EU nationals, who meet the academic entry criteria including English Language proficiency.

You will join the internationally recognised researchers in the Department of Chemical Engineering research and PhD programmes | Brunel University London

The Project

This exciting research project is focused on transitioning from a fossil based economy to a more sustainable, renewable and circular economy is urgently needed to meet the net zero target. This project aims to develop novel biorefinery system design for sustainable production of fuels and chemicals using a whole system approach. This will involve process integration and intensification techniques, machine learning technique and rigorous sustainability assessment in designing sustainable biorefinery systems in view of achieving maximum resource efficiency and minimum environmental impact.

Please contact Dr Kok Siew Ng at for an informal discussion about the studentships.



Applicants will have or be expected to receive a first or upper-second class honours degree in an Engineering, Computer Science, Design, Mathematics, Physics or a similar discipline. A Postgraduate Masters degree is not required but may be an advantage.

Skills and Experience

Applicants will be required to demonstrate the following skills;

  • Computational modelling: This project requires simulation modelling and optimisation techniques using Aspen Plus, Matlab and GAMS. It also involves machine learning and software development using Python.  
  • Sustainability assessment: This project involves rigorous techno-economic analysis and environmental life cycle assessment (LCA). LCA software such as SimaPro is required. 

You should be highly motivated, able to work independently as well as in a team, collaborate with others and have good communication skills.

How to apply

There are two stages of the application:

1.Applicants must submit the pre-application form via the following link by 16.00 on Friday 26th May 2023.

2.If you are shortlisted for the interview, you will be asked to email the following documentation in a single PDF file to within 24hrs.

  • Your up-to-date CV;
  • Your Undergraduate degree certificate(s) and transcript(s) essential;
  • Your Postgraduate Masters degree certificate(s) and transcript(s) if applicable;
  • Your valid English Language qualification of IELTS 6.5 overall (minimum 6.0 in each section) or equivalent, if applicable;
  • Contact details for TWO referees, one of which can be an academic member of staff in the College.

Applicants should therefore ensure that they have all of this information in case they are shortlisted.

Interviews will take place in June 2023.

Meet the Supervisor(s)

Kok Siew Ng - Dr Kok Siew Ng is a Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in Chemical Engineering at Brunel University London. He joined Brunel in March 2022 after the completion of his 4-year independent fellowship at University of Oxford. He is also currently the Co-Investigator and Coordinator of the Oxford Agile project (Sprint 2) – a university-wide initiative focusing on tackling various environmental challenges using an interdisciplinary approach, funded through the £10 million NERC Changing the Environment programme. The sprint project aims to develop strategies for determining the best regional combination of nutrient recovery and utilisation options for both economic viability and environmental benefits. Prior to joining Brunel, Kok Siew was a UKRI/NERC Industrial Innovation (Rutherford) Research Fellow and Lecturer in Chemical Engineering at the Department of Engineering Science, University of Oxford, from 2018 to 2022. During his time in Oxford, he was a Principal Investigator of the SYNERGORS project 'A systems approach to synergistic utilisation of secondary organic streams' (£0.5 million), funded by NERC. The project aimed to explore novel approaches to addressing challenges in organic waste management and achieving circular economy.  He completed his MEng Chemical Engineering with Chemistry (First Class Honours) in 2008, and later gained his PhD in 2011 from the Centre for Process Integration (CPI), The University of Manchester. After completing his PhD, he joined Process Integration Limited (PIL) as a consultant and later took up a position as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Centre for Environment and Sustainability (CES), University of Surrey.  Kok Siew is a chemical engineer by training with >10 years of research and industrial consultancy experience in systems engineering, process integration, techno-economic analysis and environmental life cycle assessment (LCA). His research vision is to develop novel and sustainable solutions from a systems engineering perspective, to facilitate the transition of the chemical, energy and waste industries from a fossil-based, linear system to one that is fundamentally sustainable by using renewables as the mainstream resources and by fully embracing circular economy principles. He has contributed to more than 10 UK and international projects funded by NERC, Innovate UK, EU FP7, Royal Academy of Engineering and Newton Fund. His research is significant in terms of addressing global challenges in the 21st century, aligned with the UN SDG 7 and 12, the UK Industrial Strategy, and international ambitions to achieving circular economy and net-zero target. Kok Siew has published more than 30 articles including journals, book chapters and magazine article, and have co-authored an advanced textbook “Biorefineries and Chemical Processes: Design, Integration and Sustainability Analysis”. His work related to decarbonisation of energy systems has been recognised by the IChemE Junior Moulton Medal award (best publication) in 2011. Furthermore, Kok Siew has been nominated for the University of Oxford Vice-Chancellor's Environmental Sustainability Staff Award in 2022 for his contribution in actively promoting environmental sustainability through his research vision, which develops sustainable solutions from a systems engineering perspective. He is an Editorial Board Member of Resources, Conservation & Recycling Advances (RCR Advances) journal and also a reviewer for French ANR and UKRI/EPSRC proposals. Kok Siew is enthusiastic in establishing international collaboration with researchers from multidisciplinary background. He has been working closely with international academic and industrial organisations in the UK, Europe, China and South East Asia. He has organised and participated in a number of British Council/Newton Fund workshops in Malaysia, Mexico, Brazil, Kazakhstan and China, and attended the Royal Academy of Engineering Frontiers of Engineering for Development Symposium “From feeding people to nourishing people”. He has a long-term ambition in influencing resources and waste management practices in developing countries towards sustainable development. Kok Siew is the Founder and President of the Society of Circular, Regenerative and Sustainable Systems (CRES). The aims of CRES society (knowledge exchange) and SYNERGORS consortium (research) are to promote and strengthen cross-disciplinary and cross-sectoral collaboration between the UK and international organisations in systems thinking and circular economy. His ambition in international development together with the objectives of SYNERGORS and CRES are well aligned with the UK Industrial Strategy in enhancing resource efficiency and mitigating pollution and waste materials, while achieving a sustainable industrial growth and a more resilient economy at global level. Awards and Achievements Nominated for the University of Oxford Vice-Chancellor's Environmental Sustainability Staff Award, 2022. Best Oral Presentation Award, Newton-Al-Farabi UK-Kazakhstan workshop “Low-carbon Future: Efficient Management of Resources and Energy”, 26-28 September 2016, Astana, Kazakhstan. IChemE Junior Moulton Medal for the best publication, 2011 - “Ng, K.S., Lopez, Y., Campbell, G.M., Sadhukhan, J., 2010. Heat integration and analysis of decarbonised IGCC sites. Chem Eng Res Des., 88 (2): 170-188.” PhD Scholarships (2008-2011): Overseas Research Scholarship (ORS), Manchester Alumni Funds, Process Integration Research Consortium (PIRC) Research Funds, School of Chemical Engineering and Analytical Science Scholarship MEng Chemical Engineering with Chemistry Specialist Subject Course Prize (ranked 1st in the cohort), 2008, The University of Manchester.

Related Research Group(s)

Computational Biology

Computational Biology - Developing and applying novel methodologies for computational modelling, simulation and analysis of biological systems

Wolfson Centre for Sustainable Materials Development and Processing

Wolfson Centre for Sustainable Materials Development and Processing - Research into the development and processing of new materials including nano-materials, nano-phosphors and nanostructured carbon, biofuels, polymers and bio-polymers.