PhD Studentship in Bioenergy University College Cork, College of Science, Engineering and Food Science Ireland

PhD Studentship in Bioenergy


Job Posted: 04 Jan 2019

Closing Date for Applications: 15 Feb 2019

School: School of Engineering / MaREI Centre

College: College of Science, Engineering and Food Science

Contract Type: Fixed Term Whole-Time

Job Type: Research

Salary: See advert for details




The PhD research project will look at production of biomethane as a transport fuel in an integrated circular bioenergy system. The PhD student will work primarily under Prof Jerry Murphy’s Bioenergy and Biofuels Research Group, and be co-supervised by Dr Richen Lin. The student will also work closely with the Environmental Microbiology Group led by Prof Alan Dobson. The work is funded by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) through the Science Foundation Ireland MaREI centre (Centre for Marine and Renewable Energy). The positions will be based in the Environmental Research Institute (ERI), which is a flagship institute in UCC.



The project is concerned with biogas production from third-generation feedstocks and upgrading of biogas to biomethane through biological methanation (CO2 + 4H2 = CH4 + 2H2O). Optimisation of anaerobic digestion systems (such as using feedstock pretreatment and microbial adaptation) is of importance for efficient biogas production. Integrating power to gas (P2G) with anaerobic digestion offers an innovative means to upgrade biogas to green gas (97% biomethane), whilst supporting intermittent renewable electricity and producing advanced renewable transport fuel. Proposed outcomes from the project include (1) optimisation for biogas production in anaerobic digestion and upgrading of biogas to advanced green gas, and (2) sustainability validation of advanced biofuel production in the integrated systems.


MaREI Centre

MaREI is one of 16 SFI centres in Ireland and is the centre for marine and renewable energy in Ireland. It is headquartered in the Environmental Research Institute (ERI) in UCC and includes 5 other Universities and Third Level Institutes. It has over 50 industrial partners and has research funding of approximately €50 M. It combines the expertise of a wide range of research groups and industry partners, with the shared mission of solving the main scientific, technical and socio-economic challenges across the marine and energy spaces. MaREI is also funded by SEAI, EI, EPA, ERDF, EU, HEA and IRCSET, as well as through contributions from our industry partners.


Bioenergy and Biofuels Research Group (B2RG)

B2RG was initiated in the ERI in 2007 by Prof Jerry D Murphy. To date it has secured competitive research funding in excess of €8 M from sources such as Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), Marie Curie International Training Network, The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering and Technology (IRCSET), The Department of Agricultural, Food and Fisheries (DAFF), Bord Gais, Higher Education Authority (HEA) and Teagasc Walsh Fellowship. At present the research group includes for 3 Post-doctorates and 7 PhD students and 1 Masters student. The Group has published over 130 peer review journal papers. Prof Murphy is the Task Leader for Energy From Biogas in the International Energy Agency. He is also the Director of the SFI centre MaREI. Dr Richen Lin is a Marie Curie Fellow in B2RG working on biomass pretreatment, hydrogen fermentation, and biological electron transfer in anaerobic digestion systems.


Key duties and responsibilities

The PhD candidate will conduct a specified programme of research under the supervision and direction of Professor Murphy, Prof Dobson and Dr Lin. It is envisaged that the successful candidate will have a strong background in one of the following areas: energy/chemical/biotechnology engineering and environmental microbiology. The research will involve lab experiments and advanced characterisations to advance the understanding on the fundamentals of microbial behaviours and microbe/material interactions during biological methanation, and validate the sustainability of integrated systems for biomethane production. The research programme will include for a series of work packages: modelling microbial hydrogen/electron transfer processes; biogas upgrading in biological methanation systems; and microbial communities characterisation.



  • minimum first-class honours degree (or equivalent) in energy/biotechnology/chemical engineering, environmental microbiology or a similar discipline,
  • a record of peer-reviewed journal publications is advantageous but not essential,
  • technical competence and accomplishment,
  • capability of working within a project team to achieve results,
  • good communication, organisation and interpersonal skills,
  • applicants whose first language is not English must show evidence of English proficiency, please check the minimum requirements at

Stipend: approximately €18,500 per annum. EU fees are covered by the grant. Non EU candidates may apply but they will have to cover extra fees themselves.


Duration and Start Date: 3 years. Starting no later than 31st July 2019.


For informal enquiries on the post candidates should contact:

Name: Dr Richen Lin


Phone: +353(0) 89 9471616


To Apply:

Please send (1) your C.V. and (2) a one-page letter outlining your relevant experience and your perspective on biological methanation of CO2 by email to Dr Richen Lin (, on or before the closing date 15th February 2019. Please quote “EPA PhD application” on the subject line of your application.

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