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Chemical and Biological Recycling of Plastics

Chemical and Biological Recycling of Plastics

Fully funded PhD studentships (48 months)
available at the EPSRC and SFI CDT for Sustainable Chemistry-Atoms2Products

Chemical and Biological Recycling of Plastics is one of four multidisciplinary research thematic areas within EPSRC and SFI CT in Sustainable Chemistry – Atoms2Products.

Lack of sustainable plastic waste management strategies has led to the global plastic crisis being one of the major environmental and public health challenges of our time. The UK alone produces around 1 million tonnes of waste plastic per year. Improved mechanical recycling strategies will play an important role in addressing this problem. However, many plastic waste streams are not suitable for mechanical recycling, and chemical and biological recycling technologies need significant development to become part of the mainstream solution to the plastics crisis. The research projects will involve work to provide understanding of how different plastics waste streams can be processed, and what sort of new products can be formed (e.g. monomers, platform chemicals, functional porous materials).

This is a complex and multidisciplinary challenge with the potential to generate cutting-edge fundamental research while working with industrial partners to find solutions to the global challenge of plastic waste.

Candidates from a wide range of backgrounds including chemistry, chemical engineering, computational modelling and biochemistry are invited to apply.

In addition to their research projects, the students will benefit from a range of thematic training activities including the following:

  • Polymer chemistry
  • Processing technologies including microwave, enzymatic and supercritical fluids
  • Valorising products via recovery of oligomers, monomers and functionalised materials
  • Enzyme discovery, production and characterisation
  • Advanced spectroscopic techniques
  • Plastics in the circular economy and life cycle analysis

Available research areas

  • Enzymatic polymer degradation and enzymatic valorisation of the resulting stream
  • Novel recycling routes enabled by the unique properties of supercritical fluids
  • Developing microwave technologies for polymer recycling
  • Characterisation and exploitation of landfill plastics

For further information please contact Chemical and Biological Recycling of Plastics Theme Lead Dr Eleanor Binner on [email protected] or 0115 74 84960.

Benefits of studying with us

  • An extensive training and development programme
  • Collaboration in smaller multidisciplinary Theme-specific groups
  • Being part of a Cohort of students and peer support
  • Opportunity of an external internship as an integral part of the programme
  • A consumables and conference attendance budget
  • A stipend of £15,009pa (2019/20 value)

Application criteria

Candidates should hold one of the following:

  • A minimum of an upper second-class honours degree from a 4-year undergraduate course, or equivalent in Chemistry, Biochemistry, Chemical Engineering, Physics, Computer Science, Mathematics, Biosciences, Natural Sciences, Biotechnology, Pharmacy or a closely related subject.
  • A 3-year undergraduate course in one of the above disciplines plus a Masters degree and/or at least one year’s experience in industry.

For more information about the programme and to apply, please visit the website.

Application deadline: 27 February 2020.

Due to funding restrictions, studentships are available to Home and EU applicants only.


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