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Fully Funded M2A EngD Scholarship: Chemistry of Novel Flame-Retardant Materials Based on Microporous Polymers

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Saturday, August 31, 2019
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Start date: October 2019

Supervisor: Professor O Guy, Dr M Carta and Ms J Lloyd

Sponsoring company: TATA Steel - Building Systems

This EngD in synthetic chemistry will develop novel microporous polymers for application in new flame-retardant materials. The EngD is a prestigious 4-year qualification – equivalent to a PhD with a highly attractive £20k per annum bursary.

Since the tragic events of the Grenfell Tower fire in London 2017, the preparation of novel flame-retardant materials, that can improve the fire safety standards in public and private buildings, is a major priority for the construction industry and its suppliers.

This project, based in Swansea’s Chemistry Department will synthesize and characterise novel flame-retardant materials to be used as additives in polyurethane foams. The proposed materials, based on porous polymers, typically have high decomposition temperatures (i.e., are very stable towards thermal decomposition once burned).

Polymers of intrinsic microporosity (PIMs) are an emerging class of materials. Their porosity arises by the inefficient packing of their chains in the solid state, which leaves voids of nanoscale-dimensions.

They can be used for a wide range of applications including gas separation, gas storage, electrochemistry and catalysis. In this Doctorate, the most important characteristics of PIMs is their exceptional stability towards thermal decomposition / degradation. The nature of these polymers makes them excellent candidates as additives to be mixed with polyurethane foams. Polyurethane foams are the most widely used materials for insulation panels in public and private buildings. Improved products with higher flame retardancy would have a huge impact in the building industry – both from a safety and economic point of view.

Typical additives to be used for this scope need to be highly stable, having high decomposition temperatures and low char yields, to make them more mechanically stable after burning. The newest kind of materials for optimised performance include additives in the polymer backbone such as:
Boron and its derivatives
High Phosphorus content
High Nitrogen content
High Carbon content
A combination of two or more of the previous solutions
This project, supported by TATA Steel, will focus on the design and synthesis of new precursors, monomers and polymers containing different amounts of these light elements, testing how they influence the properties and the performance of the final materials. The structure and geometry of the monomers will be designed to induce high porosity, producing a combination of the beneficial effects of the inherent thermal stability (given by the included elements) and the intrinsic porosity of the backbone (given by the structure design).

The Research Chemist will:
Develop skills in organic synthesis and characterisation of monomers and polymers of intrinsic micro-porosity, aiming to better understand how to exploit the PIMs chemistry to tune their properties as flame-retardant materials.

Our industrial partner TATA Steel is a global leader in the manufacture of steel for markets including construction, infrastructure, automotive, packaging and engineering. Its Building Systems division has extensive foam insulating panel manufacturing capabilities throughout Europe. The steel faced insulated panel market in the UK alone is worth over £200 million pounds per annum, hence the interest in making novel and better performing materials for building applications.

We welcome applications from candidates with an Engineering or Physical Science degree (minimum level 2:1), or a combination of degree and equivalent relevant experience to the same level, to join the M2A community of research engineers.

Please visit our website for more information on eligibility.

Funding Notes

The scholarship covers the full cost of UK/EU tuition fees, plus a tax free stipend of £20,000 p.a. for a period of four years.

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