Hydrothermal Carbonization of Organic Waste and Biomass

The conversion of biomass into biofuels and bioenergy is fundamental to increase the amount of renewable sources and to reduce the consumption of fossil fuels-based energy, thus fulfilling the principles of a circular economy and heading towards a net zero society. Hydrothermal carbonization (HTC) could play a significant role in the valorization of organic waste and biomass residues. Biomass sources include lignocellulosic plant matter, sewage waste, pulp and paper waste, plastic waste and municipal food waste.

HTC is a thermochemical process occurring in subcritical water at temperatures of 180–250°C and pressures of 10–40 bar. Under these conditions a solid carbon-rich hydrochar is produced, which can be utilized in various applications including power generation, soil amendment, and as a base for advanced carbon materials such as adsorbents and catalysts.

Despite the massive experimental activity performed to characterize the whole process, the modelling and simulation of HTC are lagging. Indeed, the development of validated models and tools is crucial for the design of the process as well as for the industrialization of HTC technology as it allows to optimize the amount and quality of hydrochar produced.

In this project you will validate reaction kinetic models that are at the heart of the HTC process for biomass conversion, optimize the dynamic HTC reactor and model the entire HTC process. This project will also encompass the collaboration with the UK Biochar Research Centre equipped with test rigs to carry out HTC experiments.

Further Information: 

Bevan E., Fu J., Luberti M., Zheng Y.: Challenges and opportunities of hydrothermal carbonization in the UK; Case study in Chirnside. RCS Advances 11, 34870–34897 (2021)


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Closing Date: 

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Principal Supervisor: 

Assistant Supervisor: 


Minimum entry qualification - an Honours degree at 2:1 or above (or International equivalent) in a relevant science or engineering discipline, possibly supported by an MSc Degree. Further information on English language requirements for EU/Overseas applicants.


Applications are welcomed from self-funded students, or students who are applying for scholarships from the University of Edinburgh or elsewhere

Further information and other funding options.

Informal Enquiries: