PhD Studentship: Towards an Artificial Operator: Hybrid Reactor Modelling for Enhanced Process Control

Engineering & Technology - UK Jobs

Award Summary

100% of tuition fees at the Home rate, plus an annual stipend of £17,300 in year 1, increasing to £18,300 in year 4 and an industrial top-up towards consumables and travel.


The transition to net zero will push the chemical industry to smaller, more remote plants operating intermittently requiring a step change in process automation and control. An artificial operator will steer the plant control system through changes in feedstock availability and maximise catalyst lifetime, as human operators currently do. This PhD project will explore hybrid approaches to reactor modelling which will be necessary to achieve this step change.

Hybrid approaches seek to combine data-driven modelling, which are more readily incorporated into plant diagnostic and control systems, with the basic physical laws. Existing data-driven approaches are not constrained by conservation laws, so can predict impossible situations and are not robust on extrapolation. Existing fundamental models are complex and often ill-constrained, time consuming to develop, and cannot be transferred between processes. Hybrid models can be developed to a complexity appropriate to data available.

The project will also address important scientific challenges in intelligent industry 5.0, future energy and digitalisation of process industries.

Number Of Awards


Start Date

September 2022.

Award Duration

4 years.

Application Closing Date

31 August 2022.


Johnson Matthey


Professor Jarka Glassey / Dr Jie Zhang (Newcastle University)

Dr Robert Gallen / Dr Joe Emmerson (Johnson Matthey)

Eligibility Criteria

2:1 Honours degree or equivalent in chemical and process engineering, or computing with relevance to engineering applications.

This studentship covers tuition fees at the Home rate only. We are happy to accept applications from international students but they will be required to provide the difference between the Home and International fee rate.

How To Apply

You must apply through the University’s online postgraduate application system. To do this please ‘Create a new account’.

All relevant fields should be completed, but fields marked with a red asterisk in the application portal must to be completed. The following information will help us to process your application.

You will need to:

  • Insert the programme code 8030F in the programme of study section
  • Select ‘PhD in Chemical Engineering’ as the programme of study
  • Insert the studentship code ENG097 in the studentship/partnership reference field
  • Attach a covering letter and CV. The covering letter must state the title of the studentship, quote reference code ENG097 and state how your interests and experience relate to the project
  • Attach degree transcripts and certificates and, if English is not your first language, a copy of your English language qualifications.

Contact Details

[email protected]

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