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Engineering Cupriavidus Necator H16 to Convert CO2/Waste Stream into Useful Chemicals Using a Synthetic Biology Approach


Department of Chemical & Biological Engineering

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Dr TS Wong Applications accepted all year round Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

This project falls under the umbrella of carbon capture and utilization (CCU), i.e., to turn a greenhouse gas CO2 into a useful feedstock for chemical syntheses. Instead of using a physico-chemical approach to capture CO2 and to transform CO2 into useful chemicals using metal-based catalysts, the project capitalizes on the natural ability of biological systems in carbon capture, carbon concentration and carbon utilization. Specifically, we are interested in exploring the biotechnological potentials of Cupriavidus necator H16 in biological CCU. C. necator is known for its intrinsic ability to synthesize and accumulate polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA; bioplastics) and for their superior performance in aromatic compound degradation.

In this project, the student will (1) develop molecular tools for engineering C. necator and related species, (2) apply metabolic engineering/directed evolution/synthetic biology to tailor/fine-tune the properties of C. necator for chemical production, and (3) design industrial processes utilizing C. necator and evaluate the techno-economics of biological CCU.

The student will join the multi-disciplinary ChELSI institute and the Advanced Biomanufacturing Centre (ABC) at the University of Sheffield, which is equipped with state-of-the-art research facilities. He/she will receive a broad training in molecular biology, protein engineering, synthetic biology, biophysics and chemical engineering. Further, he/she will engage with the Doctoral Development Programme designed to help developing specialist and transferable skills, which will enhance students’ research capability and employability.

Funding Notes

This project is well suited to home and international students holding either a first or 2.1 degree (or equivalent) in chemical engineering, biochemical engineering, biotechnology, microbiology, biochemistry, molecular biology or related disciplines.

If English is not your first language, then you must have International English Language Testing Service (IELTS) average of 6.5 or above with at least 6.0 in each component.
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