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A microfluidic approach to assess the effectiveness of stabilisers on product shelf-life.

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Friday, August 30, 2019
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Supervisors: Professor Mark Simmons and Dr Nina Kovalchuk, School of Chemical Engineering
Funding: University PhD scholarship (UK/EU applicants only)
Drop microfluidics is a rapidly developing area of science and engineering enabling considerable scale reduction for synthetic and analytical processes by manipulation of drops with volumes in the nano- and picolitre range. This project is aimed at applying microfluidics to study the impact of processing and storage conditions on multiphase colloidal systems such as emulsions and foams, relevant for food, cosmetics and medical applications.
Emulsions and foams and possess a very large interfacial area and are therefore thermodynamically unstable, which over time leads to complete phase separation. To increase the shelf life of products containing drops or bubbles it is therefore necessary to add surface active stabilisers which form adsorption layers at interfaces and prevent coalescence. Additional complexity is introduced by the dynamic stresses experienced during processing and transportation. During the highly dynamic conditions of emulsification, for example, it is possible for the newly formed drops to encounter their neighbours and coalesce before the stabiliser has sufficient time to reach the new surface from the bulk phases. This can result in poor quality of the final product.
Microfluidics offers the opportunity to control the timescale of drop formation so that the redistribution of adsorption layers under action of applied shear stresses can be studied. The goal of this project is to thus to study the dynamic effects related to stabilising agents during drop formation and interaction under highly controlled conditions within a microfluidic device. The devices will be designed, fabricated and chemically modified to best fit the systems to be studied.
Informal enquiries can be made to Professor Mark Simmons email:

Funding Notes

This project would suit a graduate with an upper second class Honours degree (2i) or above in Chemical Engineering, Physics or (Physical) Chemistry. This project is open to UK or European Union citizens only due to funding restrictions.

How good is research at University of Birmingham in Aeronautical, Mechanical, Chemical and Manufacturing Engineering?
Chemical Engineering

FTE Category A staff submitted: 32.50

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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