Impact of the project:
Microwave processing is gaining momentum as a highly efficient net zero technology. You will use microwave-based technology to turn waste plastics into the feedstock for chemical processes. This high value recycling process will avoid the need for new hydrocarbon feedstock, reducing the dependence on oil and gas.
We are seeking applicants from a relevant STEM or engineering background with an interest in process engineering to start in Autumn 2022 on a project with Mitsubishi Chemical Group. The funded studentship is the result of a major expansion of a programme to reduce CO2 emissions for the entire value chain around acrylic polymer manufacturing. Chemical recycling of current and legacy acrylic materials is a key challenge that needs to be met in order to realise the broader CO2-reduction programme, and microwave heating has been identified as a key enabling technology that can meet this challenge.
Mitsubishi Chemical Group and the University of Nottingham have been working on this technology for two years. The results to date indicate microwave chemical recycling of PMMA offers unprecedented high yields of high purity monomer. This is your opportunity to join our team in working towards commercialising this step-changing technology, representing a fantastic opportunity to gain substantial industry experience.
The aim of the PhD project will be to investigate various concepts of how to process waste acrylic plastic using microwave heating while ensuring that the product is of sufficient quality to re-use in acrylic manufacture. Working with the industry partner, other PhD students and project team members you will use different experimental methods to understand how processing aids, such as the addition of a solvent to the system, affect the fundamental properties of microwave heating and assess whether those effects are of benefit to the process. You will also assess how such a change in processing will impact the overall process and its viability.
The project will be part of the EPSRC-supported Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) "Resilient Decarbonised Fuel Energy Systems". The student who undertakes it will be one of a cohort of over 50 students in a broad range of disciplines across the Universities of Sheffield, Nottingham, and Cardiff.
Are you an enthusiastic first or upper second-class graduate with a relevant STEM or engineering background interested in developing expertise and key skills in the sustainable manufacture and recycling of plastics, and to establish relationships with international academic and industrial partners?
How to Apply
Please apply to the University of Nottingham.
Informal enquiries may be sent to Dr Eleanor Binner ([Email Address Removed]) and Prof. John Robinson ([Email Address Removed]).