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School of Engineering and Materials Science Research Studentships

Global low carbon hydrogen and ammonia supply chains: how to minimize emissions and costs

Supervisors: Paul BALCOMBE

Application Deadline: 31-01-2021

Whilst decarbonization of electricity has rapidly progressed in many regions, the decarbonization of heat and transport lags behind. Hydrogen offers a potential option for both heat and transport as it can be combusted with zero direct CO2 emissions or used in a fuel cells for many applications. However, low carbon hydrogen supply chains are immature and there is uncertainty about how they should be constructed. Furthermore the life cycle emissions and costs are uncertain and are likely to vary significantly across different regions. The selection of technologies and investment in infrastructure is a key challenge for the next decade and this project will shed light on which technologies and investment opportunities are most appropriate for different regions around the work, to minimize financial and environmental risk.

The project will involve process systems modelling and environmental assessments of different technology and infrastructure options for hydrogen production (e.g. electrolysis, natural gas reforming, biomass gasification), transport (compressed, liquefied, piped, conversion to ammonia), storage (large scale and small scale) and delivery (fuel station, industry plant). Every region in the world has different qualities in terms of resource availability, demand and infrastructure and this project will determine the best options for each region with high spatial resolution.

The study will require the development of a new methodology for techno-economic and environmental assessment, which combines large data synthesis in a probabilistic approach, with geospatial analysis, environmental assessment and process simulation. This is an interdisciplinary study, with the underlying engineering challenge combined with environmental science and even assessment of policy to enable the creation of new hydrogen infrastructure.

The key aims of the project will be to:

  • Determine the lowest cost and emissions methods of hydrogen production, processing, transport and storage across different regions
  • Develop a novel probabilistic techno-economic and environmental model of hydrogen supply chains
  • Determine the key innovations in technology, infrastructure and policy to enable hydrogen in low carbon energy systems

Ideally applicants will have the following skills/experience

  • Experience in techno-economic and environmental assessments
  • Knowledge of hydrogen and/or ammonia supply chains
  • Knowledge of GIS software
  • Systems modelling experience in Matlab/ Aspen Hysys/ R/ Python

QMUL Research Studentship Details

  • Available to Home/EU Applicants only.
  • Full Time programme only
  • Applicant required to start in April 2021
  • The studentship arrangement will cover tuition fees and provide an annual stipend for up to three years (Currently set as £17,009 in 2019/20).
  • The minimum requirement for this studentship opportunity is a good Honours degree (minimum 2(i) honours or equivalent) or MSc/MRes in a relevant discipline.
  • If English is not your first language you will require a valid English certificate equivalent to IELTS 6.5+ overall with a minimum score of 6.0 in Writing and 5.5 in all sections (Reading, Listening, Speaking).
  • Please note that this studentship is only available to Home/EU Applicants. (See: for details) 

Supervisor Contact Details:

For informal enquiries about this position, please contact Dr Paul Balcombe


Application Method:

To apply for this studentship and for entry on to the Chemical Engineering and Renewable Energy programme (Full Time - quoting Ref '2021 SEMS PB') please follow the instructions detailed on the following webpage: