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EASTBIO Bioleaching of critical metals


School of Biological Sciences

Prof L Horsfall , Prof Charles Cockell Wednesday, January 06, 2021 Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

During recent experiments conducted on the International Space Station, it was observed that a bacterium of terrestrial origin was capable of leaching light and heavy rare earth elements from basaltic rock. This will soon be reported in the scientific literature but further studies are necessary to understand how extensive this ability is within the species of bacterium, previously unreported to exhibit this activity, and the mechanism used. Once this fundamental knowledge has been gained, this project will use synthetic biology tools and techniques to optimise selective metal recovery and to domesticate the bacterium, with the aim of being able to use this bacterium in an industrial process with partners SEM.
The rare earth elements are critical metals; Scotland, the UK and Europe are hugely dependent on their supply from further afield. The criticality of such materials is a dynamic phenomenon, dependent on balancing usage, stocks and politics; the EU wide assessment in 2017 identified 27 critical raw materials. Within this study the 17 rare earth elements are grouped into the light REEs and the heavy REEs, both groups being of significant economic importance as they are vital to the manufacture of many hi-tech products. Light REEs have the highest supply risk to the EU of all critical raw materials, closely followed by heavy REEs, thus their recovery should be prioritised at every opportunity.

The School of Biological Sciences is committed to Equality & Diversity: https://www.ed.ac.uk/biology/equality-and-diversity

How to Apply:
The “Institution Website” button will take you to our Online Application checklist. Complete each step and download the checklist which will provide a list of funding options and guide you through the application process.


Funding Notes

This 4 year PhD project is part of a competition funded by EASTBIO BBSRC Doctoral Training Partnership View Website. This opportunity is open to UK and International students and provides funding to cover stipend and UK level tuition fees. The fee difference will be covered by the University of Edinburgh for successful international applicants. Please refer to UKRI website (View Website) and Annex B of the UKRI Training Grant Terms and Conditions (View Website) for full eligibility criteria.
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