- Course: Chemical and Process Engineering PhD
- PhD title: The effects of biomass flue gas contaminants on solvents for carbon capture and storage (CCS)
- Nationality: Irish
Why did you choose to undertake a PhD at the University of Leeds?
I graduated from the University of Leeds in 2013 with a MEng in Mechanical Engineering. This course provided me with a vast range of engineering experience in many different application such as biomedical, robotics, automotive and electrical. Upon graduation, I started work as a graduate piping engineer for Foster Wheeler Energy. I learnt a lot about the energy industry and international engineering projects from my time at Foster Wheeler, however, I felt a desire to work on more future looking projects – such as renewable energy research.
Tell us about your research
Our planet is currently experiencing temperatures higher than ever, this is largely due to our greenhouse gas emissions. My PhD looks at the potential for combining two technologies, Bioenergy and Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), to create negative carbon dioxide emissions from the generation of electricity. The technology has been highlighted as an invaluable technology to assist in urgently lowering carbon dioxide emissions by the many international advisory bodies, such as the IPCC, IEA and CCC.
Fuel, ash characterisation and gas analysis techniques will be used to track impurities throughout the combustion and capture process. Further in-situ experiments are planned at the Pilot-scale Advanced Capture Technology (PACT) facilities in Sheffield and potentially other UK power stations.
What is your favourite part of doing your research at Leeds?
The people – my background is in Mechanical Engineering whereas the research I do now is mostly chemistry focussed. Everyone I work with has been incredibly helpful and patient in helping me get to grips with some of the chemical theory behind research in this area.
I have been lucky enough to work with my supervisor’s spin-off company, C-Capture Ltd, and use their world-class facilities for my experiments. Also, I have been able to attend various training courses and conferences thanks to my funders - EPSRC. The potential for collaborative and interdisciplinary work from these are an important part of my career development.
What activities do you take part in outside of your research studies?
I am a member of the Leeds University Rugby League Club which is great for getting my mind away from work. I also enjoy great scenery that Leeds has to offer around the Otley/Ilkley areas, either by jogging or driving my classic mini.
What are your ambitions for the future?
I'm not sure at the moment, I prefer to keep my options open and see how I feel when I graduate. However, I am really enjoying researching a technology that could help us overcome the current climate change problems, so I think I’ll look to continue within the energy sector.
Do you have any advice to anyone considering coming to Leeds?
Do it. Leeds is a great town to live in, it has a lot to offer in terms of sport, scenery, music and culture. The university have lot of facilities and it is constantly making improvements. I would highly recommend studying here.