PhD Studentship in Applied Mathematics Dynamical Systems for Life Cycle Assessments with applications in Renewable Energy

Ref: 1260

About the award

Location: Cornwall Campus, University of Exeter.

Primary supervisor:  Markus Mueller, University of Exeter.

Secondary Supervisor: Xiaoyu Yan, University of Exeter.

Renewable Energy is expected to be an important part of the low-carbon energy supply for the UK in the future. Various technologies use various resources and add to the “Renewables Mix” but there is only a preliminary understanding in how much these technologies in fact contribute to a reduction of carbon emissions. A Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) can help to understand how a technology performs in view of carbon emissions from the “cradle to grave”. Most current LCA models  of renewable energy technologies, and in fact other technologies, however can only make ‘static’ estimates of future scenarios that lack dynamic interactions with changing circumstances. For example, technological advances might make renewable technologies more efficient and effective in the future while extracting fossil fuels might become more costly and carbon-intensive.

In this interdisciplinary PhD project we will develop a dynamical LCA tool that can incorporate changes in the characteristics of a considered technology, changes in the characteristics of the environment in which the technology will be deployed in, changes in the impacts to the environment, and changes in the performance of competing technologies and how in return these changes will influence the life cycle impacts of the considered technology. The focus will lie on the mathematical modelling of the model for Life Cycle Assessment and what qualitative and quantitative results such a tool is able to deliver.

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The LCA tool, which we develop, will enable us to make comparison between different technologies generating “clean” energy, provided sufficient and reasonable data is available. There could be a focus on a particular renewable technology: its potential and impacts in an uncertain natural, economic and social environment, and an uncertain future.

You will be based in the Environment and Sustainability Institute (ESI) at the University of Exeter’s Penryn Campus and will be expected to collaborate with researchers within the ESI, the University of Exeter’s Renewable Energy group, the University of Exeter’s European Centre for the Environment and Human Health, and partners from industry, government and NGOs on various aspects of the project.

Contact for Informal Enquiries:

Application Criteria

You should have or expect to achieve at least a 2:1 Honours degree, or equivalent, in Mathematics, Engineering or Natural Sciences. Experience in mathematical modelling, dynamical systems and control theory, numerical modelling using software such as MatLab, GIS tools and Life Cycle Assessment tools are highly desirable though not essential.


Application deadline: 13th October 2013

Number of awards: 1

Value: 3 year studentship.

Tuition fees (UK/EU/International) and £13,726 annual maintenance allowance

Duration of award: per year

Contact: Liz Roberts

How to apply

To apply, you must complete the online web form. You will be asked to submit some personal details and upload a full CV, covering letter and details of two academic referees. Your covering letter should outline your academic interests, prior research experience and reasons for wishing to undertake this project.

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For general enquiries please contact Liz Roberts at 

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