Postgraduate research opportunities

Effective uses of money in achieving CO2 reduction

This studentship will explore the conditions needed to succeed in the translation of sustainable manufacturing R & D into real CO2 reductions implemented in industrial supply chains.

Number of places



Home fee, Stipend


20 May 2020


31 July 2020


3 years


Qualifications and Experience

The studentships are available for UK, EU and International* students, who possess or are about to obtain a first class or 2.1 (Honours), or equivalent EU/International qualification, in the relevant discipline.

The successful candidate will have the following skills

  • A proactive approach, with initiative and ability to work independently
  • Ability to: Synthesise, summarise and draw conclusions
  • Adhere to strict standards of confidentiality
  • Work in distributed teams
  • Strength to cope with schedules and deadlines
  • Excellent organisational and communication skills
  • Excellent written and spoken English.

*International students must be able to provide evidence of funding and pay the difference between the UK Home Fee and International Fee.

Find out more about this exciting PhD opportunity by clicking through the tabs above.

Individuals interested in this project should email, along with the title of the project you are applying for and attach your most up-to-date cv.

Project Details

Introduction and Background:

The global climate crisis poses challenges to manufacturing innovators. Manufacturers and engineers have enabled transformational change through centuries of innovation. This has shaped the way we live today, creating previously unimaginable opportunities and empowered the consumer. However, this has also had unintended consequences and impact the environment and society.  It could be said manufacturers and engineers enabled mass consumerism, the extensive use of concrete, and combustion powered transportation. In doing so, established the root cause of climate change.  Today’s absolute need is for the manufacturers to initiate a new phase of change based on the concept of Sustainability at the heart of Manufacturing and Supply. 

Research plan, current challenges and objectives:

This studentship will explore the conditions needed to succeed in the translation of sustainable manufacturing R&D into real CO2 reductions implemented in industrial supply chains. It aims to investigate ways of linking value for money from research with measurable sustainability benefits. As examples of the current challenges and opportunities, it will use technologies that have been developed at NMIS and are driven by a sustainability perspective but have had varying success in finding traction in the market place and supply chain.  The aim will be to identify a systematic approach to studentship definition, technology selection and development. This can radically improve the chances of eventual implementation, therefore, achieve real impact on sustainability.

During this studentship, the successful applicant could have the opportunity to collaborate with the UK-FIRES team. This includes academic partners from the University of Cambridge, Oxford, Nottingham and Bath as well as Imperial collage London. There are also an ever increasing number of industrial partners.    UK- FIRES at its core has a long term view that tries to address the challenges the world will be facing in terms of resource efficiency and carbon release. This is a large challenge by its very nature, therefore a group of multi-disciplinary individuals and expert groups are trying to address the problem from different viewpoints.

There are other PhD students on the UK-FIRES program and each group works independently but to get the most impactful collaboration would be required. The student would be involved in the monthly post doc and PhD student meeting, living lab meetings and would be asked to provide updates regularly. This would give them fantastic exposure to the larger research group and allow them to build a high-quality network. This collaboration will also lead to high impact publications.

Current practices

Step change - innovations in manufacturing are most often linked to the development of next generation products, or to the creation of new markets.

Interchangeable parts - introduced to support the mass production of firearms, single crystal casting was developed based on the need for hotter running gas turbines, chemical modification of GorillaGlass to induce surface residual stress was developed as a necessary step in creation of smartphones. These examples show how the urgency and market opportunity that results from a product launch can drive not just technology development, but also the embedding of that technology through innovation.


The situation is however difficult in cases of manufacturing technologies whose primary benefits relate to energy and resource efficiency and do not necessary differentiate product performance. Here technologies with an important part to play in addressing the climate challenge need a different driver of change in order to be embedded. Moreover, the drive towards improved sustainability and reduced CO2 potentially implies fewer product launches or launches of products for which there is a demonstrable through-life CO2 reduction (including all aspects of manufacture and end of life disposal).  Technologies whose main benefit is sustainability of manufacturing rather than product improvement therefore typically suffer from the perennial challenges associated with technology push, rather than market pull, and often struggle to achieve their potential.


Today’s focus on sustainability in general, and CO2 reduction in particular, potentially creates the conditions whereby this can change but with precise mechanisms not yet fully developed.  In these circumstances the potential exists to yield huge societal and environmental value for every £ spent on manufacturing R&D, but only if the problems and challenges are suitably developed and aligned with conditions for success. This studentship will explore those success factors and develop a framework for studentship selection around them.

The studentship is well aligned with the technology objectives of NMIS (National Manufacturing Institute Scotland), and the enduring theme of sustainability which is built into the NMIS technology framework.  The studentship also builds on expertise at the AFRC in net shape, low energy forming processes and the need to improve the route to market for such technology

Funding Details

This fully-funded industrial PhD opportunity will cover Home and EU Fees and Stipend.

We will accept applications from international students who can confirm in their email application that they are able to pay the difference between the Home and International fees (approximately £16,500 per annum). The Stipend is not to be used to cover fees. If you are unable to cover this cost the application will be rejected.


The University of Strathclyde supervisor for this PhD is Professor Michael Ward

Please note: We request that potential candidates do not contact Professor Ward and instead direct all questions to

Contact us

How to apply

Individuals interested in this project should email, along with the title of the project you are applying for and attach your most up-to-date cv.