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Sustainability assessment and circularity modelling of a new advanced biofuel production scheme

Applications are invited from enthusiastic individuals for EU funded full time PhD studentship with skills, knowledge and/or experience in one or more of the specialist areas listed below:

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Chemical Engineering
  • Civil Engineering
  • Process Engineering
  • Industrial Engineering
  • Environmental Sciences

The successful applicants will join the Environmental Engineering Group in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. 

The studentships are for a period of 3 years and successful applicants from the UK/EU will receive an annual stipend of £24,000 (tax free) plus payment of their full time Home/EU tuition fees.

This exciting research project is focused on Sustainability Assessment and Circular economy modelling in an integrated biofuel production process. The project explores and develops technology and methods for the production of drop-in biofuels for aviation and shipping from black liquor, a side stream of chemical pulping industry by applying the Black Liquor to Fuel (BL2F) process. 83% CO2 reduction compared to fossil fuels, and competitive production cost of 0.90 €/l for drop-in sustainable aviation fuel are received. A large deployment, using a variety of biomass, can yield >50 billion liters of advanced biofuels by 2050. First-of-a-kind Integrated Hydro Thermal Liquefaction (IHTL) process at pulp mills produces fuel intermediate for further upgrading in oil refineries. The BL2F is supported by CEPI, Avinor, and Rolls Royce and covers the whole value chain. The 6th largest producer in the world of bleached eucalyptus kraft pulp NVG, the leading biorefinery supplier Valmet, catalyst developer Ranido and Neste, the world’s largest producer of renewable diesel collaborate with excellent research partners; VTT, PSI, SINTEF, Tampere University, KIT, Brunel University London.

The PhD student will develop and apply the methodological framework to assess environmental, economic and societal impact of the whole value chain and perform circularity modelling. The sustainability assessment will provide quantitative measures of the BL2F scheme sustainability performance within the economic, environmental and social dimensions. The analysis will reveal the key intersections of the different interrelated supply chains and identify ways to minimise the waste flows and retain the energy value and materials within the system. The assessment will be based on the frameworks of material flow analysis (MFA), life cycle thinking and life cycle costing (LCC) and this way will take into account the material, environmental and economic dimensions and identify customers’ and stakeholders’ roles to foster the circular economy transition. The student will develop a novel approach for sustainability assessment consisting of three quantitative attributes illustrating the material, environmental and economic performance from a circular economy perspective.

The PhD students will perform the research in collaboration with National and European industrial actors.

Applicants will be required to demonstrate their ability to think innovatively and produce solutions that will be applied and tested in multiple industrial sites throughout EU.  The project will require you to take a concept and conduct a full cycle of research and development under supervision from academic staff and Research Fellows.  

Please contact Dr Evina Katsou (Evina.Katsou@Brunel.ac.uk) for an informal discussion about the studentships.


Applicants will have or expected to receive a first degree at 2:1 (65%) or above in areas such as:  Environmental Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Civil Engineering, Process Engineering, Industrial Engineering, or Environmental Sciences. An MSc degree is an advantage but not essential.  Previous industrial experience and/or national or international scientific awards will also be advantageous.

The studentships are for a period of 3 years and successful applicants from the UK/EU will receive an annual stipend of £17.009 (tax free) plus payment of their full time Home/EU tuition fees.

How to apply

To apply for this position, you must email all of the following documents to Evina.Katsou @brunel.ac.uk and cedps‐pgr‐office@brunel.ac.uk by 1st July 2020 at the latest:

  • Your up‐to‐date CV;
  • Your single A4 page, single‐spaced personal statement setting out why you are interested in undertaking this project;
  • Your degree certificate(s) and transcript(s);
  • Evidence of your English language capability to IELTS 6.5 or equivalent, if appropriate;