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Funded PhD positions; in Refining seaweed – Biotechnology of biogas production; at Faculty of Engineering and Science; University of Greenwich; in UK

Project Description

This project is part of the University Alliance group’s Doctoral Training Alliance in Energy ( which is a multi-disciplinary programme with students based at one of 14 Alliance Universities Nationwide. For this PhD studentship you will be working in the Faculty of Engineering and Sciences at the University of Greenwich, but the Doctoral Training Alliance research students will be able to access a broader professional online community where they can collaborate with each other, share knowledge, and benefit from the extensive reach of the Doctoral Training Alliance. This studentship competition is open to applicants who wish to study for a PhD on a full-time basis only. The studentship will pay UK/EU fees and provide a maintenance stipend linked to the RCUK rate for up to three years.

Biomethane production by anaerobic digestion (AD) is one of the most efficient ways to sustainably process heterogeneous plant waste streams, and underpins a sustainable biomethane-dependent industry. Recently, multimillion pound investments and initiatives have been launched to produce bio-methane from farmed algae using AD. Marine algae are also potential profitable sources of highly bioactive secondary metabolites that might represent useful leads in the development of new pharmaceutical agents. Potential beneficial bioactive compounds could be extracted, and the spent biomass, converted into bio-methane to generate energy. Sargassum muticum (SM) is an invasive marine alga or seaweed but potential obstacles in utilising the SM as an AD feedstock for biomethane production is a lower yield of practical methane in biogas production compared to the theoretical yield.

To address current and future energy challenges, with a rising population and the demand for primary energy increasing, the research aims to build a deeper understanding of how we can extract energy using AD from noisome water-invader algae as well as enhance clean water provision and sequester CO2 to make the entire process fully sustainable.

The research is two-fold: firstly, to determine the exact nature of AD inhibitors in algae and secondly, investigate the AD of the seaweeds after having extracted potential inhibitors.

Bursary available (subject to satisfactory performance)

Year 1: £14,553
Year 2: In line with RCUK rate
Year 3: In line with RCUK rate

In addition, the successful candidate will receive a contribution to tuition fees equivalent to the university’s Home/EU rate, currently £4,195, for the duration of their scholarship. International applicants will need to pay the remainder tuition fee, currently £8,305, for the duration of their scholarship. This fee is subject to an annual increase.

Person Specification of Essential and Desirable Requirements


Education and Training:
• 1st Class or 2nd class, First Division (Upper Second Class) Honours Degree or a taught Master’s degree with a minimum average of 60% in all areas of assessment (UK or UK equivalent) in a relevant area to the proposed research project.
• For those whose first language is not English and/or if from a country where English is not the majority spoken language (as recognised by the UKBA), a language proficiency score of at least IELTS 6.5 (in all elements of the test) or an equivalent UK VISA and Immigration secure English Language Test is required, unless the degree above was taught in English and obtained in a majority English speaking country

Experience & Skills:
• Previous experience of undertaking research (e.g. undergraduate or taught masters dissertation)
• Experience with biochemistry/biotechnology

Personal Attributes:
• Understands the fundamental differences between a taught degree and a research degree in terms of approach and personal discipline/motivation
• Able to, under guidance, complete independent work successfully

Other Requirements:
• The scholarship must commence before 30 November 2017

• Experience with biomethane production / anaerobic digestion / microbiology

Closing date for applications: midnight UTC on 1st September 2017

For further information contact: Dr Birthe Nielsen E-mail:

Duration: 3 years, Full-Time Study

Making an application

Information on the application process is available at: . Applications need to be made online via this link.


Deadline: September 01, 2017

Apply Now