Waste and biomass valorisation PhDs

Fully funded PhD projects for UK/settled students in waste and biomass valorisation topics, from laboratory-based work to systems modelling.

Start date

1 October 2022

Application deadline

Funding source

EPSRC Doctoral Training Program and University of Surrey

Funding information

  • UKRI stipend (e.g. £16,062 for 2022/23)
  • Home fees covered (UK candidates only)
  • £3,000 Research Training Support Grant
  • £3,000 Bench fees


The conversion of biomass to fuels and value-added chemicals is key to support net-zero aspirations both globally and within the UK. Ideally biomass sources should be non-food biomass such as lignocellulosic biomass, and/or supply chain surplus or wastes. However, the biorefinery concept is challenged with valorisation of complex waste streams encompassing all biomass components; the requirement for new, biobased supply chains; discovery of new technologies and processes that are also sustainable with respect to social, economic and environmental factors; heterogeneity of biomass feedstocks; integration of biorefinery systems within established systems; and complex modelling requirements. Within the Chemical and Process Engineering Department at Surrey we have several PhD projects available to tackle these challenges. Some indicative topics are given below but do feel free to propose your own.

Conversion to value-added chemicals

  1. The lignin component of lignocelluose needs to be used (alongside the sugars) within the biorefinery to improve the economic potential of biorefinery processes. This project will research novel lignin conversion techniques using ultrasound and heterogeneous catalysis. Contact – Madeleine Bussemaker
  2. Surplus and waste from the human food supply chain have potential to be used for hair cosmetics with fewer legislative challenges. This project will research extracts from food waste/surplus for hair dyes. Contact – Madeleine Bussemaker
  3. Enzymatic hydrolysis of biomass is one of the important ways of its conversion into value-added products. This project will focus on the mechanisms of hydrolysis of cellulose and hemicelluloses by various enzymes to optimise yields of fermentable sugars. Contact – Oleksiy Klymenko

The biorefinery concept

  1. Biomass valorisation researched through the creation of a repository related to biomass characterization, process modelling, integration of biorefinery systems and existing feedstocks, and technology infrastructures in the UK. The latest Artificial Intelligence technologies will be used to assure repository universality and dynamics. Contact – Franjo Cecelja
  2. Optimal multi-period, flexible biorefinery process synthesis using dynamic optimisation and surrogate modelling techniques for multi-product, multi-feedstock bioproducts in the UK.  Contact – Michael Short
  3. Economic and environmental feasibility of biorefineries focused on converting waste (biomass, food waste or plastic waste) to useful energy or platform chemicals. Contact – Siddharth Gadkari

Biorefinery within markets

  1. The long-term impacts and optimal processing routes of global biomass supply chains will be researched in consideration of future carbon trading. Contact – Michael Short
  2. The impact of heterogeneity of waste and biomass feedstocks on technologies and supply chains will be researched. Contact – Madeleine Bussemaker
  3. Scoping of biodegradable feedstocks and processing technologies to target dynamic market conditions with a focus on economic, environmental, and social requirements in the UK. The scoping process is expected to be supported by the latest Artificial Intelligence such as knowledge modelling and machine learning. Contact – Franjo Cecelja

Later start dates possible

Later start dates will be considered

Eligibility criteria

Home student (UK, EU pre-settled or settled status, indefinite leave to remain) with a 2:1 or better.

English language requirements

6.5 or above (or equivalent) with 6.0 in each individual category (if not graduated from UK institution).

How to apply

If you are interested in a particular area please send your CV and email directly to the academic listed (Bussemaker, Madeleine m.bussemaker@surrey.ac.uk, Cecelja, Franjo f.cecelja@surrey.ac.uk, Gadkari, Siddharth s.gadkari@surrey.ac.uk, Klymenko, Oleksiy o.klymenko@surrey.ac.uk, Short, Michael m.short@surrey.ac.uk) and apply via the Chemical and Process Engineering PhD programme page.

Studentship FAQs

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Application deadline

Contact details

Madeleine Bussemaker
22 BC 02
Telephone: +44 (0)1483 686598
E-mail: m.bussemaker@surrey.ac.uk

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