Energy Innovation: Fully Funded MSc (Research): Design study on increasing the efficiency of fridges

Using carbon nanotube materials that were made via chemical recycling of waste plastic materials, the research will create devices to improve the capacity and efficiency of refrigeration devices. This proposal is about increasing energy efficiency of refrigeration devices. The devices will be based on the use of carbon nanotubes. Researchers at Swansea University’s Energy Safety Research Institute (ESRI) have developed protocols for making carbon nanotubes via a chemical recycling process. In particular, the process involves the use of waste plastics and mixed plastics as carbon source for the synthesis of carbon nanotubes, wherein the plastics are sourced from healthcare products. This work will use nanotubes made from healthcare plastic materials to test for improvements in the efficiency of fridges.

Carbon nanotubes are interesting materials due to their unique heat transfer properties. Refrigeration units work by changing the state of a material from a liquid to a vapour, and vice versa. The expansion and contraction of the material between the liquid and vapour state causes temperature changes and this temperature change is how fridges operate. The most efficient systems can accomplish this by using the least amount of energy and in an economic standpoint, by lasting the longest amount of time. Refrigeration requires two reversible physical processes to occur, i.e. condensation and evaporation. Firstly, materials condense on a surface and that process is improved by having materials with larger surface areas. Then, evaporation occurs to change the state back to vapour. This state change occurs when heat conducts from the surface of the heating element to the fluid material and this process is improved by using materials with high heat transfer coefficients. The efficiency of the device is also improved if the lifetime can be extended several years, this can be achieved by using a sturdy material such as carbon nanotubes.

This work will be done in two phases, firstly a full set of design parameters will be tested and calculated to determine the maximum efficiencies when using carbon nanotubes as the phase change medium in the various configurations. This work can be done as working from home if needed.

In the second phase, the student would create a refrigeration device and use carbon nanotubes that are created at ESRI to confirm initial values.

In conclusion, this work can prevent the build-up of material in landfill sites, thus decreasing the environmental impact of plastic refuse in the environment. Moreover, this work will contribute a carbon-neutral economy both by sinking carbon into a functional material, and by using that functional material to decrease energy demand via improved efficiencies.

Scholarships are collaborative awards with external partners including SMEs and micro companies, as well as public and third sector organisations. The scholarship provides 1 year funding with a 3 month period to complete the thesis. The achievement of a postgraduate skills development award, PSDA, is compulsory for each KESS II scholar and is based on a 40 credit award.


Candidates should have a 2.1 or above in their undergraduate degree in any of the physical sciences or engineering subjects. They should also be eligible for UK Fees (see–Advice/Fees-and-Money/Wales-fee-status for more information). 

Candidates must be eager to learn, be willing to fail but not be deterred.

We would normally expect the academic and English Language requirements to be met by point of application. For details on the University’s English Language entry requirements, please visit –

For this scholarship students must also have:

  • a home address in East Wales (details below)* at the time of registration and enrolment
  • the right to take up paid work in the East Wales Area* on completion of the scholarship

East Wales * area covers: Vale of Glamorgan, Cardiff, Newport, Monmouthshire, Powys, Wrexham and Flintshire

For more information on eligibility criteria please refer to section C of the KESS II Participant Proposal Form.

Any queries relating to Section C – Eligibility, please contact [email protected].

NB: If you are holding a non-UK degree, please see Swansea University degree comparisons to find out if you meet the eligibility. 

If you have any questions regarding your academic eligibility based on the above comparison, please email [email protected] with the web-link to the scholarship(s) you are interested in. 


The studentship covers the full cost of UK tuition fees, plus a stipend. The bursary will be limited to a maximum of £11,937 p.a. dependent upon the applicant’s financial circumstances as assessed in section C point 4 on the KESS II Participant Proposal Form. 

There will also be additional funds available for research expenses.

Please note that students receiving KESS II support are not eligible for Postgraduate Master’s Degree loan.

How to Apply

Applicants are strongly advised to contact Dr Alvin Orbaek White ([email protected]) regarding information on the area of research:

To apply:

  1. Complete the KESS II EAST Participant Proposal Form 2021-22
  2. Complete the KESS II Supplementary Form
  3. You will also need to provide copies of the following documentation:

*The references can take the form of a letter on official headed paper, or via the University’s standard reference form. Alternatively, referees can directly email a reference from their employment email account to [email protected]. Please note that references received via private emails accounts (e.g., Hotmail, Yahoo) cannot be accepted.

Please submit both application forms and supporting documentation to [email protected].

Application forms may be submitted in Welsh and any application submitted in Welsh will be treated no less favourably than an application received in English.

For any other queries, please contact: [email protected]

The deadline for applications is 4pm (BST) 17 September 2021.


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