Investigation into carbon capture and soil-plant nutrients from waste product

CGE Reference: LU007

Get paid to do a PhD with the Centre for Global Eco-Innovation, Lancaster University and Silverwoods Waste Management Ltd

Funded enterprise-led PhD, Ref. No: LU-007 

  • Get paid £48,000 between the project start date and 30th June 2023 (paid in monthly instalments)

  • Your UK/EU tuition fees are paid (international candidates will need to pay remaining fees).  

  • Be part of the multi award winning Centre for Global Eco-Innovation within a cohort of talented graduates working on exciting business-led research. The Centre was declared “The outstanding knowledge exchange and commercialisation initiative in the UK”. 

  • This project is based at Lancaster University, so you will gain your PhD from a Top Ten University, recognised as The Times and Sunday Times University of the Year 2018 and International University of the Year 2020. You will also work alongside colleagues at partner institutions across the North West. 

  • Finish in a strong position to enter a competitive job market in the UK and overseas.  

Back in 2017, the UK’s Environment Secretary Michael Gove warned that the UK was 30 to 40 years away from “the fundamental eradication of soil fertility”. We can no longer treat soil like dirt, but instead must appreciatethe natural capital it provides for eco-systems, carbon storage and future food security. With the world’s population set to reach 8.6 billion by 2030, understanding how to maintain healthy soil is essential.

This is a unique opportunity to work alongside Silverwoods Waste Management Limited to develop a waste product which has potential for use as a soil treatment and crop enhancer. 

Cement by-products can be beneficial as agricultural soil amendments owing to their high pH (liming) and potassium (fertilising) content. However, their potential to capture atmospheric carbon to help mitigate climate change is not currently known. This project will investigate the potential mechanisms and rates of atmospheric carbon capture through the enhanced weathering of cement waste by-products when applied to land as agricultural soil amendments.  

You will conduct both experimental and modelling techniques to determine the underlying rates and mechanisms of carbon capture and sequestration via land application of cement by-products using a representative crop in both the field and controlled environmentsThese studies will also examine the soil-plant nutrient dynamics in product-applied soils and effects on crop growth and yields.

Applicants should have at least a 2:1 Honours and/or Masters degree in Environmental Science related subjects with prior research (dissertation) experience in environmental biogeochemistry, soil-plant relationships, and/or modelling of biogeochemical data. 

Enterprise and collaborative partners 

This PhD study is a collaborative research project between Lancaster University, with supervision by Professor Ian Dodd and Dr Binoy Sarkar of Lancaster Environment Centre, and  Silverwoods Waste Management Ltd  

Silverwoods Waste Management Ltd, based in East Lancashire, recycles a wide range of industrial wastes to agricultural land as substitute fertilisers under full approval from the Environment Agency.  The nutrients present in the wastes are tailored specifically to particular crops allowing purchased bagged fertilisers to be reduced.  They manage over 350,000t of waste produced from food processing sites, paper mills, cement manufactures and utility companies. Double 2019 Red Rose Award Winners, Silverwoods is at the forefront of innovative waste management with a passion for developing sustainable solutions for the management of soil fertility.

Deadline: Sunday 18th October 2020

Start: November/ASAP 2020 

This project is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund. 

Download the application documents here