PhD Studentship: Achieving Net-Zero – Hydrogen as a key factor for energy resilience and emission reduction for the UK water sector



Fee status of eligible applicants: UK & EU only

Duration of Award if full time preferred: 4 years

Duration of Award if part time preferred: 6 years

1st Supervisor: Prof Bruce Jefferson

2nd Supervisor: Dr Luca Alibardi

Opportunity Reference No: SWEE0105

Sponsored by EPSRC, Scottish Water and Anglian Water, this studentship will provide a bursary of £19,000 per annum (tax free) plus fees* for four years.

Fully-funded studentship

The commitment of the UK water industry to achieve zero-carbon emissions will require a transformational move in the way the sector operates, changing from energy intensive operations to resource and energy recovery factories embedded in a number of circular economic systems.

Hydrogen is a key element for the transition to a low carbon economy based on renewable energy. Hydrogen produces energy with no-carbon emissions, can be used for energy storage and remains an important feedstock for the chemical industry to produce fertilizers and building blocks.

Sustainable green hydrogen can be extracted both from water, sludge and waste via a variety of electrochemical (electrolysis), thermo-chemical (e.g. gasification, wet oxidation) and biological (e.g. biophotolysis, photo-fermentation, dark fermentation, microbial electrolysis cells) processes that are applicable at various points of traditional and future sewage treatment plants.

The overall aim of the project is to develop an evidence-based strategy for the UK water sector to switch towards a hydrogen economy aligned to achieving carbon neutrality. The challenge is understanding the current limitations to the implementation of carbon neutral (green) hydrogen production processes and define solutions delivering carbon emission reduction, process and energy resilience.

The project is an exciting collaboration between Cranfield University, Scottish Water and Anglian Water as part of the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Water Infrastructure and Resilience (WIRe).

An assessment of technologies for hydrogen production in sewage treatment works with clear steps for implementations, favourable economic and regulatory conditions and definition of operational parameters and innovative designs.

As part of the WIRe doctoral centre, students will benefit from an enhanced stipend of £19,000 per annum, undertake a bespoke training programme within a cohort of up to 12 students and have access to world leading experimental facilities and observatories, as well as close collaboration with industry and end-user partners.

Entry requirements

Applicants should have a first or upper second-class UK honours degree or equivalent in a related discipline, such as engineering, chemistry, environmental sciences, or water science. The ideal candidate should have some understanding of water and wastewater treatment and of hydrogen production processes.

The candidate should be self-motivated, have good communication skills for regular interaction with other stakeholders, with an interest for industrial research. Prior experience in the water sector would be advantageous but is not essential.

How to apply

For further information please contact:

Name: Dr Luca Alibardi


If you are eligible to apply for this studentship, please complete the online application form.