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(BBSRC DTP) Developing enhanced production and separation techniques for glycolipid biosurfactants

  • Full or part time

    Dr P A Martin
  • Application Deadline
    Friday, January 31, 2020
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Glycolipid biosurfactants are naturally occurring amphiphiles with a range of unique properties including biodegradability and tolerance of a wide range of temperature and pH. These properties have facilitated the commercialisation of these biosurfactants by a number of companies in recent years, in a range of cleaning and personal care products.

There is significant interest in molecules produced from industrial biotechnology routes and using biosurfactants such as sophorolipids as bulk chemicals, in particular for bioremediation and enhanced oil recovery, though the current cost of production is currently prohibitive. This is in part because of the requirement for feeding large quantities of substrate, meaning there is a requirement for significant unused bioreactor volume at the beginning of the fermentation, and the high viscosity of the sophorolipid phase, which accumulates in the bioreactor over time inhibiting oxygen mass transfer to the cells.

We have developed a novel gravity separation process1 to separate the sophorolipid product as it is produced and remove it from the bioreactor, reducing the bioreactor volume requirement and thereby enhancing productivity and fermentation product titre, and are working to exploit this technology commercially. These commercialisation activities have been recognised by a BBSRC Innovator of the Year Early Career Award.

This PhD project will aim to further enhance fermentation and separation techniques for glycolipid biosurfactants, potentially facilitating further decreases in production costs. The project will build on current funded work with industrial collaborators to develop a controllable, scalable integrated bioprocess.

https://www.research.manchester.ac.uk/portal/james.winterburn.html

Entry Requirements:
Applications are invited from UK/EU nationals only. Applicants must have obtained, or be about to obtain, at least an upper second class honours degree (or equivalent) in a relevant subject.

Funding Notes

This project is to be funded under the BBSRC Doctoral Training Partnership. If you are interested in this project, please make direct contact with the Principal Supervisor to arrange to discuss the project further as soon as possible. You MUST also submit an online application form - full details on how to apply can be found on the BBSRC DTP website View Website

As an equal opportunities institution we welcome applicants from all sections of the community regardless of gender, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation and transgender status. All appointments are made on merit.

References

Dolman, BD et al. 2017, Process Biochemistry, 54(162-171)

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

FTE Category A staff submitted: 33.90

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

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