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A sustainability analysis of sea ports

Port expansion is often cited as a key enabler for commercial activity and national or regional economic prosperity, whether in developed or developing nations. Demand for freight is increasing globally, but this conflicts with reducing our energy use in the transition to a lower carbon future.

So how is it possible to tell if a business or production (or operation) site is becoming more or less sustainable?

This is done using a set of benchmarks (indicators) to compare changes in the values of variables (metrics). Using the Process Analysis Method (PAM) this project will generate a set of indicators and metrics grouped as environmental, economic, and human / social in accordance with the Bruntland report. The PAM is a flexible, transparent, robust, and data-driven approach to designing and developing indicator sets. Previously, the PAM has been used to examine the sustainability of cars, water processing, chemical production, and river systems.

The aim is to create a generic set of indicators applicable to any port to allow comparisons, though it will be necessary to use a single nation as a case study.

How to apply

If you are interested in applying for the above PhD topic please follow the steps below:

  1. Contact the supervisor by email or phone to discuss your interest and find out if you woold be suitable. Supervisor details can be found on this topic page. The supervisor will guide you in developing the topic-specific research proposal, which will form part of your application.
  2. Click on the 'Apply here' button on this page and you will be taken to the relevant PhD course page, where you can apply using an online application.
  3. Complete the online application indicating your selected supervisor and include the research proposal for the topic you have selected.

Good luck!

This is a self funded topic

Brunel offers a number of funding options to research students that help cover the cost of their tuition fees, contribute to living expenses or both. See more information here: https://www.brunel.ac.uk/research/Research-degrees/Research-degree-funding. The UK Government is also offering Doctoral Student Loans for eligible students, and there is some funding available through the Research Councils. Many of our international students benefit from funding provided by their governments or employers. Brunel alumni enjoy tuition fee discounts of 15%.

Meet the Supervisor(s)


Colin Axon - Senior Lecturer in the Institute of Energy Futures. My research is about the use of energy in the urban environment and the limits to natural resources. My main areas of interest are in energy security, sustainability, transport, electricity networks, and resource efficiency. I use techniques and methods including the application of robust methods for metrics and indicators, and data mining and analytics.I have published more than 80 reviewed articles and technical reports.

Related Research Group(s)

Resource Efficient Future Cities

Resource Efficient Future Cities - Urban energy; Sustainable advanced materials; Energy efficiency in buildings; System integration of energy and infrastructure planning at community/district/city scales.