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Converting food waste to value-added chemicals and fuels via black soldier fly larvae

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Wednesday, January 29, 2020
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

This project addresses the twin challenges of food waste remediation and the need to develop sustainable, non-fossil, sources of chemicals and fuels. Previous work in our research group has shown that organic acids extracted from black soldier fly larvae (BSFL) can be converted into products such as surfactants and biofuels. BSFL can be reared on any organic material. They can therefore be fed on food waste, converting than waste as living biocatalysts to an oil rich in organic acids. The potential of this as a sustainable feedstock for the chemical industry has been recognised by Nouryon, a leading chemicals company. In this work you will develop the methodologies for converting this oil into a range of chemical products thereby demonstrating the feasibility of this process – both for the advanced infrastructure of developed countries, but also to address the challenges of organic waste remediation in the global south. To further improve the sustainability of the overall process, you will also seek to employ chitosan – a biopolymer derived from the BSFL – as a catalyst in these and other reactions.

This is an experimental based project which will involve reaction testing and analysis, using techniques such as GCMS. It is well suited to applicants with a good knowledge of chemistry.

The chemicals sector underpins UK and global manufacturing. This project will provide the skills necessary to enter a range of roles in those sectors or in the broader sustainability field.

Subject-specific training will be provided on relevant techniques as well as a Doctoral development programme.

Funding Notes

Entry Requirements:
Good honours degree in chemistry, chemical engineering or a related subject.


The student will be working as part of a larger research group in a well-resourced lab dedicated to developing sustainable engineering solutions to global challenges. For further details please contact Dr. James McGregor directly via

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