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Bioproduction of bioplastics with tailored properties

   Department of Chemical Engineering & Analytical Science

   Applications accepted all year round  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

This multidisciplinary project aims to develop a novel technology, exploiting the fermentation at different scales and modes (batch/fed-batch/continuous) for the bioproduction of bioplastics with tailored properties. The project will focus on sustainable carbon resources, such as e.g. biorefinery crude glycerol, flue gases etc. An exciting combination of both advanced experimental and computational studies is envisaged: Experimental efforts will include the exploration of cell immobilisation technologies, which is a key element for successful continuous fermentation and bioreactor design and operation. Our previous work on batch fermentation-based production of PHB will provide effective starting points for this project. Computational work will involve the construction of bioreactor simulators in conjunction with advanced optimisation techniques in order to obtain optimal configurations addressing important issues such as (on-line) biomass/product separation, recycle as well as effcient extraction techniques, to efficiently tailor polymer properties. The best continuous bioreactor designs will be selected through an efficient combination of experiments and computations. Studies of the metabolic pathways of the system using system biology approaches will be utilised to appropriately optimally adapt the microorganism for the selected experimental system. We expect this project to create significant benefits not only towards the improvement of this process, but also in the general areas of industrial biotechnology and of integrated biorefineries. 

See for a list of our relevant publications. 

Entry Requirements

Research will be supervised by Prof C. Theodoropoulos. Candidates should ideally have an MSc and/or a 1st class BSc in Chemical Engineering or a related field such as Biotechnology, Chemistry, Physical Chemistry etc. and should have computational modelling experience and/or relevant experimental experience. 

Successful candidates will be enrolled in the 3.5-year Ph.D. program of the Department of Chemical Engineering. 

Application Information

Information about the application process and a link to the online application form can be found at

You MUST make contact with the lead project supervisor before submitting an application.

When completing the application include the name of the lead project supervisor as the potential supervisor.

Enquiries about this project can be sent to Prof Konstantinos Theodoropoulos - as the lead project supervisor. The Admissions team in Chemical Engineering can be contacted at  with any queries you may have regarding the application process.

Equality, diversity and inclusion is fundamental to the success of The University of Manchester, and is at the heart of all of our activities. We know that diversity strengthens our research community, leading to enhanced research creativity, productivity and quality, and societal and economic impact. We actively encourage applicants from diverse career paths and backgrounds and from all sections of the community, regardless of age, disability, ethnicity, gender, gender expression, sexual orientation and transgender status.

We also support applications from those returning from a career break or other roles. We consider offering flexible study arrangements (including part-time: 50%, 60% or 80%, depending on the project/funder).


1. Cristina Perez Rivero, Chenhao Sun, Constantinos Theodoropoulos, Colin Webb. Building a predictive model for PHB production from glycerol (2015) Biochemical engineering journal. 116, 113-121.
2. Chenhao Sun, Cristina Pérez-Rivero, Colin Webb, Constantinos Theodoropoulos. Dynamic Metabolic Analysis of Cupriavidus necator DSM545 Producing Poly(3-hydroxybutyric acid) from Glycerol (2020) Processes. 8(6)657.

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