Engineering sustainable routes to carbon capture and reusage: Conversion of CO2 from steelworks to coating products.
The need to develop sustainable, renewable Industrial processes is crucial and one of the foremost global challenges facing humanity. Tata Steel generates coated steel products at their plant in Port Talbot, South Wales, a site which currently emits 7 million tonnes of CO2 per year. Proposed changes to the EU Emissions Trading System and the implementation of similar CO2 emission caps will present significant financial and environmental burdens for the UK steel industry. Cyanetics, Tata Steel and the University of Nottingham are currently developing a novel manufacturing process to convert the waste CO2 emissions from the Tata Steels plant into high value chemicals, specifically coatings, which can then be utilised in the steel process,
The proposed PhD project will build on this collaboration by manipulating the microbial biochemical and regulatory pathways of Cyanobacteria to enable efficient photo-energy conversion to product. The primary objective being to express non-heterologous pathways in Cyanobacteria, coupled with dynamic regulation to redirect metabolic flux towards increased productivity. Engineered strains will be subject to metabolomic characterisation (metabolic phenotyping) using liquid chromatography (LC)-mass spectrometry (MS)-based methods to estimate intra and extracellular metabolic fluxes, allowing for the development of a designer strain with improved productivity. These designer strains will then be characterised in continuous fermentation in collaboration with Cyanetics, allowing development of a representative cultivation strategy. This multi-disciplinary project integrates biophysical characterisation, LC-MS-based metabolic profiling and flux analysis synthetic biology, and process development and optimisation, in bench scale photobioreactors.
This project is aligned with the UoN’s Green Chemicals Beacon, a £13m investment creating a sustainable processing technology platform encompassing metabolic engineering, process development and green chemistry. The Beacon will invest £250k of capital towards a state-of-the-art cyanobacteria laboratory and £1m in analytic equipment to further an understanding of carbon fluxes in biochemical networks. The student will have access to these world class facilities.
This is a 4 year fully-funded EPSRC industrial CASE studentship, the studentship covers student fees, stipend and RTSG at UKRI rates. The industrial partner for this project is Cyanetics.
Eligibility: The studentships are available to UK and EU students who meet the UK residency requirements. Students from EU countries who do not meet the residency requirements may still be eligible for a fees-only award.
Entry requirements: At least 2:1 or equivalent in biology/analytical sciences.
When applying for this studentship, please include the reference number (beginning ENG 1261 and supervisors name) within the personal statement section of the application.