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Development of new nano-absorptive materials for air filtration and self-cleaning coatings in closed environment (Advert Reference: RDF20/EE/MCE/QIAN)

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Friday, January 24, 2020
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

The number of metro commuters has continuously increased over recent years in metropolitan cities such as London. The air quality and thermal comfort in the subway indoor environment is of particular public concern. Besides the underground related pollution sources such particulate matter generated due to abrasion and wear of rail tracks, wheels and braking pads. The levels of surface traffic-related particulate pollution have significantly influence air quality in the underground transport system through ventilation systems and/or station escalator tunnels and corridors. Developing a nano-based material as air purification system filter the particulates and other harmful substance which also interacts with the existing underground passive ventilation system become the most efficient and sustainable method to control the narrow underground space.

The nanocomposite systems are dynamic non-stick surfaces and deter any fouling attachment through physical anti-adhesion. A series of self-cleaning technologies by using elastiometric siloxane polymer/nano-magnetite composites have been successfully modelled. Such as the well-distributed nanofiller percentage (0.5% MNPs) as a self-cleaning nano-coatings mechanism has been proved it exerts superior self-cleaning and inhibition of bacterial growth. Nano-materials possess numerous characteristics such as low density, non-toxicity, ecological, environmental sustainability, and economic advantages that make it attractive for use to improve air quality and prevent hazard in the subways system.

The objectives of this research are:
1. To investigate the potential to identify the most efficient fit for air filtration or self-cleaning devices as indicated by the subway background air flow.
2. To developing and designing new nano-based materials for air filtration or self-cleaning paints; including syntheses and characterisations of 2D materials (e.g. graphene).
3. To implement and test air purification systems that interact with the ventilation system in an existing underground system. To analysis and quantify the impact of nano-materials on the air quality improvement within the subway environment.

The principal supervisor for this project is Dr Zi Qian. The second supervisor will be Professor Ahmed Elmarakbi.

Please note eligibility requirement:
• Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
• Appropriate IELTS score, if required.
• Applicants cannot apply for this funding if currently engaged in Doctoral study at Northumbria or elsewhere.

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see

Please note: Applications that do not include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words (not a copy of the advert), or that do not include the advert reference (e.g. RDF20/EE/MCE/QIAN) will not be considered.

Deadline for applications: Friday 24 January 2020

Start Date: 1 October 2020

Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff. We welcome applications from all members of the community. The University holds an Athena SWAN Bronze award in recognition of our commitment to improving employment practices for the advancement of gender equality.

Funding Notes

The studentship is available to Home/EU/Worldwide students where a full stipend, paid for three years at RCUK rates (for 2019/20, this is £15,009 pa) and full fees.


1. Qian, Z., Agnew, B., Thompson, E. M., 2014. Simulation of Air flow, Smoke Dispersion and Evacuation of the Monument Metro Station based on Subway Climatology, Fusion 32nd eCAADe, pp. 119-128.

2. Spiegel, J., Brüne, M., Dering, N., Pflitsch, A., Qian, Z., Agnew, B., Paliacin, R. and Irving, M., 2014. Propagation of tracer gas in a subway station controlled by natural ventilation. Journal of Heat Island Institute International Vol, 9, p.2.

3. Qian, Z., Charlton, J., Agnew, B. and Thompson, E., 2015. A11 Towards an integrated evaluation of the effects on health from smoke or toxic gas dispersion in the evacuation of subway tunnels. Journal of Transport & Health, 2(2), pp.S10-S11.

4. Hamza, N., Qian, Z. and Stein, O., 2015. User behaviours and preferences for low carbon homes: Lessons for predicting energy demand. IBPSA, 33(18.8), p.1.

5. Hamza, N. and Qian, Z., 2016. Validating the performance of a Double Skin Facade in winter in a hot arid climate. In PLEA 2016 Los Angeles-36th International Conference on Passive and Low Energy Architecture. Cities, Buildings, People: Towards Regenerative Environments.

6. Selim, M., Shenashen, M., Fatthallah, N., Elmarakbi, A. and El‐Safty, S. (2017) "In Situ Fabrication of One‐Dimensional‐Based Lotus‐Like Silicone/ϒ–Al2O3 Nanocomposites for Marine Fouling Release Coatings" ChemistrySelect, Vol. 2, No. 30, pp. 9691-9700.

7. Selim, M.S., Shenashena, M., Elmarakbi, A., EL-Saeed, A., Selim, M.M., and El-Safty, S. (2017) “Sunflower oil-based Hyperbranched Alkyd/Spherical ZnO Nanocomposite Modeling for Mechanical and Anticorrosive Applications. RSC Advances. Vol. 7, No. 35, pp. 21796-21808.

8. Selim, M., El-Safty, S., Sakai. M., Higazy, S., Shenashen, M., Isago, H., and Elmarakbi, A. (2017) “Recent Progress in Marine Foul-Release Polymeric Nanocomposite Coatings” Progress in Materials Science. Vol. 87, pp.1–32.

9. Ng, B., Tindall, J., Edge, J., Morrell, J., Tioh, D., Choi, K., Du, H., Wei, S., Waggott, A., Barber, A., Keating, M., Walker, S., Qian, Z., 2018. Refurbishment options to decarbonise a 1960s public office building by 2050s.

10. Hassen, D., Shenashen, M., El-Safty, A., Elmarakbi, A. and El-Safty, S. (2018) " Anisotropic N-Graphene-Diffused Co3O4 Nanocrystals with Dense Upper-Zone Top-on-Plane Exposure Facets as Effective ORR Electrocatalysts" Scientific Reports; 8, 3740, pp.1-14.

11. Selim, M., Elmarakbi, A., Azzam, A., Shenashen, M., EL-Saeed, A. and El-Safty, S. (2018) "Eco-Friendly Design of Superhydrophobic Nano-Magnetite/Silicone Composites for Marine Foul-Release Paints" Progress in Organic Coatings, Vol. 116, No. 30, pp. 21-34.

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