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Engineering: UKRI EPSRC CDT EngD Scholarship: Paint Recycling For End-Of-Life Construction Cladding

   School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

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  Prof Matthew Davies  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Academic Supervisors: Primary: Prof Matthew Davies Secondary: Prof Geraint Williams

Industry Supervisor: Dr James Smith and Dr Susana Hult Torron

Aligned programme of study: EngD in Materials, Modelling and Manufacturing

Mode of study: Full-time

Expected Interview Date: March-April 2023

Dating back over 150 years, Beckers is a true pioneer in providing unique, high-quality solutions that answer coating needs across many sectors. Currently Beckers is proud to be the global leader in supply of coil coatings from 24 locations in 18 countries. With 20% of our personnel worldwide working in laboratories, 4% of our sales spent on R&D and 25% of our coatings being new products created in the last five years, we are proud to be considered an industry innovator and we will continue to explore smart and sustainable solutions.


One of the main uses of Coil Coatings is on exterior façade panels used in building construction. Coatings are applied to continuous, wide metal strip and then thermally treated so as to induce gelation or crosslinking. Chemistries used include Polyester/Melamine, Polyurethane, PVdF & PVC plastisol amongst others. Currently, as cladding is removed from buildings at the end of life the metal is recycled via melting and then re-casting. During this process the coil coating is incinerated from the metal and so is lost. Currently, a significant part of the carbon footprint of a coated metal panel is the emissions related to the production of the raw materials used to make the coating. Therefore, if a route to recover those raw materials was to be developed, this would yield a significant reduction in the total carbon footprint of the coil coating.

Project Aims:

The specific focus of the doctorate will be firstly to investigate and develop low-carbon impact methods, chemical or mechanical, that would support the removal of the end-of-life coating from the substrate. Secondly, to develop a route to extract the constituent parts that can be reused in future Coil Coatings. This process would be carried out before the metal is then recycled.

Desired outcomes:

Development of a method to extract usable Coil Coating raw materials from exposed paint films that are applied to a metal substrate. The materials that would be most desirable for recovery are the coloured or anti-corrosive pigmentation (especially TiO2), and the organic polymers used as the binder.

Student profile:

The ideal candidate will be a self-starter who is willing to act on their own initiative and one who can present the results to an audience of Industrial Chemists, Senior Managers, and their peers. The candidate will have a first or upper second-class degree in chemistry, material science or mechanical engineering but other science-based disciplines may be considered.

Working locations:

The student will be based at Swansea University with occasional laboratory work & meetings being carried out at Beckers, as required.

Sponsor Company: Beckers Group


COATED M2A recognises applicants have a variety of backgrounds with different educational and research experiences. We do not expect applicants to be proficient users of any techniques/equipment mentioned, at the time of application. Our focus is to upskill our participants and training will be provided.

COATED M2A in the Faculty of Science and Engineering is a Swansea University initiative which provides postgraduate research training in partnership with industry, providing access to world class laboratories and a wealth of academic and industry expertise. COATED M2A is committed to providing top quality research opportunities within an inclusive environment, funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), Swansea University and Industry partners.

Interwoven through the research study are business, technical and entrepreneurial courses, designed to support and prepare participants for a senior role in industry or academia, on completion of their studies.

The Athena SWAN charter recognises work undertaken by institutions to advance gender equality. The College of Engineering is an Athena SWAN silver award holder and is committed to addressing unequal gender representation. Applications from women and other under-represented groups are particularly welcomed. 

All applications will be anonymised prior to short listing.


Candidates must normally hold at minimum (or expect to obtain by the start date) an undergraduate degree at 2.1 level (or Non-UK equivalent as defined by Swansea University), or a combination of degree and equivalent experience to the same level. 

English Language requirements: If applicable – IELTS 6.5 overall (with at least 6.0 in each individual component) or Swansea recognised equivalent.

Studentships for October 2023 entry are open to candidates of any nationality; however, please note:

International students (including EU countries) can apply, but due to UKRI funding rules, no more than 30% of the Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Functional Industrial Coatings projects can be allocated to international students. Once the cap is reached, studentships will only be open to applicants eligible for tuition fees at the UK rate, as defined by UKCISA regulations.

Further details about eligibility, including information about the ‘international cap’ can be found at: Eligibility (identifying if you are a home or international student) – UKRI.


Please note that the programme requires some applicants to hold ATAS clearance; further details on ATAS scheme eligibility are available on the UK Government website.

ATAS clearance IS NOT required  to be held as part of the scholarship application process, successful award winners (as appropriate) are provided with details as to how to apply for ATAS clearance in tandem with scholarship course offer.

Funding Notes

This studentship covers a full award and includes a tax-free stipend (currently £22,000 per annum) and tuition fees, each for a period of four years, subject to meeting University progression requirements.
Also, a generous budget is available to support training, project costs, industry placements and travel to enable you to network and showcase your research at an international conference.

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