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Thermal Energy Research Accelerator (T-ERA)

PhD Case Award: Energy Research Accelerator (ERA): Adsorption Technologies for Low Carbon Heating

Academic Supervisor: Prof. Bob Critoph and Dr. Stan Shire
Closing date: 28 July 2017
Start date: 2 October 2017
Duration: 3.5 years

The Energy Research Accelerator (ERA) is a cross-disciplinary energy innovation hub which brings together capital assets, data and intellectual leadership to foster collaboration between academia and business to accelerate the development of solutions to the global energy challenge. ERA’s initial priorities of Geo-Energy Systems, Integrated Energy Systems and Thermal Energy will help deliver the new technologies and behaviours that will open the avenues for its future development and demonstrate the transformative effect ERA can have across the energy spectrum.

Warwick Thermal Energy Research Studentship
T-ERA (Thermal Energy Research Accelerator) has funded major new equipment purchase plus laboratory and office refurbishment for the Sustainable Thermal Energy Technologies (STET) team in the School of Engineering. The demand for heating in the UK accounts for 47% of UK energy use (25% of CO2 emissions) and the work of STET and T-ERA aims to reduce this dramatically.

The research carried out by the team covers a large range of topics:
• Gas heat pumps to replace domestic gas boilers resulting in much lower (c. 50%) energy consumption
• Advanced thermal storage (domestic or industrial) using Phase Change Materials (PCM’s) or Thermo-chemical (TC) stores
• Thermal Transformers for waste heat recovery and upgrading in industry, e.g. converting a proportion of the heat in a waste stream at 80°C to medium pressure steam at 150°C, rejecting the remainder at low temperature

The research will involve the use of adsorption (solid-gas) cycles for heating, cooling, or thermal storage or PCM thermal storage. There are a number of possible research projects that might be carried out either in singly (in depth) or in combination:
• Ammonia – salt reaction dynamics. ERA has funded equipment, unique in the world, that can simultaneously measure the uptake of ammonia in a salt and the quantity of heat transferred to it.
• Modelling of novel thermodynamic cycles for heat pumps and transformers. Thermodynamic, heat and mass transfer modelling will be used to help designs for machines with far higher efficiency than the state of the art.
• Developing new composite materials for thermal energy storage and transformation devices. These new materials will be used to design prototype devices with higher energy and power density.
• Construction and testing of proof of concept prototypes using our extensive new test facilities. The work will investigate the potential for scaling up material production and integration with novel heat exchanger designs.

Regardless of whether the project concentrates on materials, simulation, or system construction, the applicant will need to be enthusiastic about the energy saving applications and the practical engineering required to make them possible. The successful applicant is likely to work together with industrial partners such as Baxi (domestic heating) or Spirax Sarco (industrial heating). Background information on projects carried out by the team in our i-STUTE project may be useful to prospective applicants and can be seen at

Eligibility: UK or EU candidates with a 1st or 2.1 UK Honours degree in either a Mechanical or Chemical Engineering. An interest in heat transfer and thermodynamics applied to practical systems is essential.

Funding: The studentship covers 100% tuition fees at the UK/EU rate and standard tax free stipend circa £14,700.

How to Apply
Please email a full Curriculum Vitae and cover letter, explaining why you are interested in pursuing a PhD in this research Programme with ‘PhD Application’ in the subject line.