Wood Technology

Wood Technology Research Centre

Scholarships and Opportunities

Biomass to syngas and liquid fuels (BTSL)


Two PhD scholarships are available in 2011 in the Department of Chemical and Process Engineering. The scholarships will be offered by a Government funded research programme of BTSL (2008-2014) led by Professor Shusheng Pang. Stipend is $NZ26,500 pa including the tuition fees up to three years.

The BTSL programme is to adapt and develop the most advanced thermo-chemical conversion technologies to suit the NZ biomass resources. These technologies include gasification to convert biomass into hydrogen-rich syngas followed by Fischer-Tropsch (FT) synthesis of the syngas to produce biodiesel for transport. To suit the widely distributed and low density biomass, three options for syngas production are under development including gasification of entire biomass, co-gasification of biomass with coal, and densification of biomass by pyrolysis for gasification. The latter two processing routes will supplement the low energy content biomass which would otherwise induce very high costs in transport and storage on a commercial scale. So far, a 100 kW advanced gasifier, called fast internal circulating fluidised bed (FICFB) gasifier, has been constructed and optimised. A cold transparent gasification model has also been designed and constructed for study of flow hydrodynamics in the FICFB gasifier. Gas cleaning technology is under development.

In addition to meet the UoC’s general requirements for PhD entrance (www.canterbury.ac.nz/enrol/postgrad/), the successful candidate should have a Bachelor Degree with 1st class honour or Masters Degree in Chemical or Mechanical Engineering. Experience in equipment design and process simulation will be an advantage. The two scholarships are provided to the successful candidates with the following two PhD projects.

PhD project 1: Production of Fischer-Tropsch syngas from gasification of biomass pyrolysis slurry

The objectives are to develop an entrained flow gasification technology to gasify pyrolysis slurry, and to develop a gas cleaning system to obtain clean and hydrogen-rich gas for FT synthesis. Fundamental study and equipment optimisation will be carried out simultaneously.

PhD project 2: Development of an energy self-sufficient fast pyrolysis system for densification of biomass

The objective of this project is to develop a fast pyrolysis system with 100% energy self-sufficiency to densify low density biomass to a biomass slurry for gasification in the project 1. Lab scale apparatus will be designed and constructed for experimental investigation. Fundamental studies will be conducted to gain depth understanding of the processes for optimisation of the system. The bio-oil upgrading will also be studied for alternative application of the biomass pyrolysis.

For more information and application, contact:
Professor Shusheng Pang
Wood Technology Research Centre,
University of Canterbury, Private Bag 4800, Christchurch, New Zealand
shusheng.pang@canterbury.ac.nz or phone +64 3 364 2538