Resource capture from oily steel making sludge and scales, for recycling and environmental protection.

Key Information

Supervisors: Dr C Tizaoui, Prof R Palmer, Prof P Holliman and Dr G Lloyd.

Steelmaking processes generate several types of residues, including oil contaminated mill sludge and scales, which are mainly generated during the cooling and rolling processes of hot steel.

In Europe alone, it is estimated the steel industry generates over 500,000 tonnes of sludge and mill scale per annum. Such residues can either be recycled internally or landfilled depending on composition.

Landfill disposal route is not only environmentally inacceptable but is expensive due to the hazardous nature of the material. Several methods are used to de-oil waste sludge including for example thermal extraction, solvent extraction, microwave processing and cleaning with surfactants.

However, these processes are generally expensive, energy intensive, or may generate other residues that require further treatment or disposal costs. This project will look at alternative routes for cost effective and efficient de-oiling of sludge generated by steel making processes. The research will provide potential for recycling the waste and contribute to the circular economy strategy. 

This research will develop and test on laboratory scale, new oxidation technologies for de-oiling sludge and scales at Tata Steel Port Talbot site. The project aims to deliver a new scalable technology, which could lower costs and environmental footprint compared to current technology. This treatment project will also provide opportunities for recycling and reusing steel residues, that would otherwise be wasted at a cost, helping the business to meet environmental legislation and to be resilient for potential shortages in raw material supply.

The Research Engineer will:

  • Evaluate the removal of oil from oily steel sludge using advanced oxidation processes.  
  • Characterise the surface properties of the oily residues before and after treatment
  • Functionalise the treated particles to produce new catalysts and absorbents and evaluate their efficiencies to treat wastewater.
  • Evaluate the potential of treated oily residues for reuse and recycling.
  • Develop a technico-economic and sustainability evaluation of the technology.

Swansea university is a top 30 UK institution for research excellence (Research Excellence Framework 2014) and has been named Welsh University of the Year 2017 by The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide.

The Materials and Manufacturing Academy (M2A) in the College of Engineering is a Swansea University initiative which provides postgraduate research training in partnership with industry; providing access to world-class laboratories and a wealth of academic and industry expertise. The M2A is committed to delivering high quality collaborative research opportunities within an inclusive environment, funded by the Welsh European Funding Office (WEFO), the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), Swansea University and Industry partners. 

Interwoven through the research study are business, technical and entrepreneurial courses, designed to support and prepare participants for a senior role in industry or academia, on completion of their studies. Research Engineers may participate in our career mentoring system, offering opportunities to engage with M2A alumni and other senior staff from across the University.  

The Athena SWAN charter recognises work undertaken by institutions to advance gender equality. The College of Engineering is an Athena SWAN bronze award holder and is committee to addressing unequal gender representation.

Applications from women are particularly welcomed. As a positive action to address gender imbalance, female undergraduates considering a career in research are invited to join our two-day laboratory taster session and learn about a typical day in the life of a research engineer.

Sponsoring Company Tata Steel

We welcome applications from candidates with an Engineering or Physical Science degree (minimum level 2:1), or a combination of degree and equivalent relevant experience to the same level to join the M2A community of research engineers.

To be eligible for WEFO funding, applicants should:

  • Be a UK or EU citizen (eligible for home tuition fees at Swansea University) and have the right to work in Wales at the end of their studies.
  • Be resident within West Wales and the Valleys at the time of enrolment and for the duration of the candidature.
  • Must not be financially able to participate in study for a postgraduate research degree without the award of this funding

 To be eligible for EPSRC funding, applicants should:

  • Be eligible for home tuition fees at Swansea University.
  • Have settled status in the UK, meaning no restrictions on the length of stay in the UK; and be ‘ordinarily resident’ in the UK for 3 years prior to the start of the grant, apart from temporary or occasional absences.
  • Not have been residing in the UK wholly or mainly for the purpose of full-time education. This does not apply to UK nationals and EU nationals who were ordinarily resident in the EU immediately before the period of full-time education.

Full fees at Home/EU rate for a period of four academic years.

Maintenance stipend at £20K per annum for a period of four years.

Closing Date 15 March 2019

Start Date October 2019

Apply Now

Informal enquiries about this studentship are welcome and may be directed by email to: M2A@swansea.ac.uk