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Bacteria Recognition-Extraction from Wastewater (BREW) for next generation Microbial Fuel Cell Technology (Ref: Renu20-06)

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Friday, January 31, 2020
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

The EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Renewable Energy Northeast Universities (ReNU) is a collaborative doctoral training programme run by the Universities of Northumbria, Newcastle and Durham. In addition to undertaking an individual scientific research project at one of the three partner Universities, doctoral candidates will engage with added value training opportunities, for example in business, innovation and internationalisation through a 4-year training programme that has been designed to maximise the benefits of a cohort approach to doctoral training. The start date is 1st October 2020.

Development of novel polymer-based materials to enhance the efficiency of microbial fuel cells (MFCs). The applicant will have the possibility to work with on an ambitious multidisciplinary project that involves industrial collaboration and cuts across areas of chemistry, engineering, and microbiology.

Aims and objectives
The growing demand for water and energy has become a critical issue for sustainable societal development. Wastewater is increasingly seen as a valuable energy source and can be used in MFCs to convert organic energy in wastewater into electricity. However, the efficiency of these fuel cells can be limited and there is a great need to develop new anode materials. We will focus on using a technique called bacterial imprinting in order to increase the number of binding sites on the anode surface to improve the overall efficiency of MFCs.

The aims of this project are:
i) use rational design of new multi-functional polymerizable monomers for bacteria recognition;
ii) create new polymer-modified electrodes specifically designed for bacterial extraction from waste-water;
iii) study and develop the next generation of developed MFCs

The project is led by Dr Marloes Peeters () and Dr Matthew Unthank () who are experts in the field of polymer synthesis and biosensing.

How to apply:
Applicant should include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words and include the advert reference number.

You must apply through the University’s online postgraduate application system at You will need to:
• Insert the programme code 8208F in the programme of study section
• Select PhD Energy Materials as the programme of study
• Insert the advert reference number (e.g. renu20-02) in the studentship/partnership reference field
• Attach a covering letter and CV, quote code (e.g. renu20-02), 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.

Please note eligibility requirement:
• Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 1st Class (Hons) or 2:1; or a Masters (preference for Merit or above) in an appropriate subject area.
• Appropriate IELTS score, if required.
• Applicants cannot apply for this funding if currently engaged in Doctoral study at Newcastle University of elsewhere.

Funding Notes

The studentship covers full Home fees and an annual stipend at UKRI rates (for 2019/20, this was £15,009 pa). Also significant additional funding to cover research costs and local, national and international travel (conferences and exchanges).

Please note that the scholarship award is set at the Home/EU level of fees. Depending on how you meet the EPSRC’s eligibility criteria, you may be entitled to a full or a partial award. Note that up to 4 offers of a PhD place will be made for the ReNU CDT projects advertised by Newcastle University.

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