National Interdisciplinary Technology Metals Circular Economy Centre (Met4Tech)

Level of study
Doctoral research
Subject area
Type of Award
Deadline for applying
Closed 18/06/2021 (Note: competition closed for this year)

Award Description

Met4Tech will explore how to create a circular economy for the technology metals, such as lithium, cobalt, rare earth elements and others essential in decarbonisation and digital technologies. The Centre will build an active interdisciplinary community of academics, experts, industrial organisations, government, policy makers, civil society and user groups to position it at the heart of the UK Industrial Strategy and create a new, world-leading, competitive advantage for the UK economy.

The Birmingham project strand will be led by Professor Aleksandra Cavoski. The four year programme will address the governance contribution for a circular economy in technology metals both relating to primary metal production and secondary materials’ recovery. 

We would like to recruit a PhD student who is interested in undertaking research in this area. 

Research agenda

TechMet will address a number of key scientific issues as well as several governance and regulatory issues:

  • Create clarity about the circular economy potential of our future UK Industrial Strategy.
  • Address improved design and processes with a focus on delivering improved resource productivity, creating opportunity for recovery at the end of initial use, and co-defining future business model requirements.
  • Use a governance structure and community engagement plan to further define and reduce the gaps in current capacity, identifying relevant training materials and professional development opportunities across multiple sectors, with many direct links to university level education.
  • Work in partnership with the UKRI research community, existing international and national networks to build a diverse, inclusive multidisciplinary community of academics, industrialists, government, policy makers, civil society and end users.
  • Test recycling technologies that will transform WEE recycling (priority on research to speed up work on batteries and rare earth magnets) with an end of use focus to improve collection, reuse and recycling rates (from a technology and incentive point of view).
  • Target industrial innovations for circular economy, opportunities and barriers across value chains and accelerate their implementation, while promoting a portfolio of exciting, emerging and enabling science, data and technologies.
  • Develop novel methods and tools to enumerate, model and characterise potential target states and systemic innovation opportunities, in order to design, manufacture and revalorise techmetal material flows at multiple scales and understand compound effects and non-linear synergies from circular strategies.

You are invited to address one of the following topics:

  1. Explore and identify environmentally-acceptable flows and supplies of techmetals as well as surrounding regulatory regimes and responsible sourcing.
  2. Explore different examples of technology transitions such as the switch to electric vehicles, wind turbine, etc that might inform sustainability issues in sourcing and utilising techmetals.
  3. Creating circular economy systems for techmetals wherever they occur both in industrial and consumer products.
  4. Explore regulatory issues surrounding essential eco-design and extended producer responsibility.
  5. Explore extraction and processing of technology metals in the UK.

Alternatively, you may wish to suggest any other topic that falls within the remit of the project.

Value of Award

This award will cover:

  • PhD Scholarship of 3 years funding of £20,109 per annum (paid in monthly instalments), including tuition fees and a stipend.

Eligibility Criteria

  • Open to Home students, full time preferably campus based; we also welcome distance learning applications.
  • Candidates are expected to have an undergraduate degree in law or a cognate discipline. Study at Master’s level of environmental or technologies regulation would be an advantage but is not essential.

How to Apply

Applications should include the following documents and be sent to by Friday 18 June 2021:

  • CV
  • Sample of work
  • Names of referees

Your application should be accompanied by a research proposal which outlines a plan for your PhD research within the remit outlined above. Proposals should make clear how your research will make an original contribution to knowledge. Please read our guidance on how to write a PhD research proposal.

Informal enquiries are welcome and encouraged. Potential applicants should contact the Co-Investigator for the Governance elements of the work programme: Professor Aleksandra Cavoski