Chemical Engineering PhD (Energy and Chemical Industries specialism)

Our Energy research theme addresses the challenges of introducing the hydrogen economy to replace the current reliance on carbon-based fuels. Fuel cells, hydrogen generation, storage and use are being investigated. 

The Chemical Industries theme addresses key challenges including novel production routes using catalysis or supercritical fluids, reduction of waste by-products, and control of product formulation.

Improving quality of life demands the supply of increasing amounts of energy and consumer chemicals, whilst at the same time global warming has become a major cause for concern. Our Energy research theme addresses the challenges of introducing the hydrogen economy to replace the current reliance on carbon-based fuels.

Fuel cells, hydrogen generation, storage and use are being investigated. The production of chemicals such as pharmaceuticals, vitamins, personal and household products is the traditional business of the chemical industry, but new challenges are being addressed to manufacture such products more efficiently.

The challenges are to:

  • Create, test and optimise the technologies for generating, storing and using hydrogen, nationally, regionally and locally
  • Demonstrate that these technologies are environmentally, socially and economically acceptable
  • Establish Birmingham (the city, its industries and universities) as the leading centre for hydrogen energy research and development in the UK

Our research, which is supported by EPSRC, the European Commission, industry and Advantage West Midlands, is carried out jointly with the Schools of Biosciences and Economics and other parts of Engineering in Birmingham, and with the University of Warwick. It includes development of:

  • Economic hydrogen production and processing techniques
  • Viable hydrogen storage solutions
  • Manufacturing routes to robust, high-performance fuel cells

An important feature of our work is that it is multidisciplinary, incorporating the socio-economic aspects of the technologies investigated, which are key to their acceptance.

We take a 'whole systems approach' to applied research, including collaborative development of innovative technology demonstrators (biological hydrogen generation and processing, integrated fuel cell-based combined heat and power systems, hydrogen fuelled transport). We place emphasis on knowledge transfer and public understanding of hydrogen energy.

Novel production routes using catalysis or supercritical fluids, reduction of waste by-products, and control of product formulation are some of the key challenges which are being addressed within the Chemical Industries theme.