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Identification and development of emulsifier systems for vegetable-based wax-in-water emulsions

Centre for Global Eco-Innovation

Prof J Sweeney Applications accepted all year round Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

PhD: funded for 33 months
Start date: October 2020
Entry requirements: 2:1 degree or above
Lancaster University - Chemistry

Get paid to do a PhD with the Centre for Global Eco-Innovation ( at Lancaster University ( and Kerax Ltd.

Funded enterprise-led PhD, Ref. No: LU-006

• Get paid £1,455 per month tax-free until June 2023.
• Your UK/EU tuition fees are paid (international candidates will need to pay remaining fees).
• Be part of the multi award winning Centre for Global Eco-Innovation ( within a cohort of talented graduates working on exciting business-led R&D.
• The Centre is based at Lancaster University, so you will gain your PhD from a Top Ten University, recognised as The Sunday Times University of the Year 2018 and International University of the Year 2020.
• Finish in a strong position to enter a competitive job market in the UK and overseas or progress on to further study.

Kerax Ltd ( manufactures waxes for a wide range of industrial, home and pharmaceutical use. Multi-tonne deliveries of these products are usually made by tanker as hot bulk liquids. This project will identify surfactants which are able to emulsify and stabilise suspensions of waxes in water emulsions to enable transport and use of our specialist materials. Storage and transport cold will simplify equipment required, reduce energy costs and CO2 emissions.

Kerax Ltd has been working to replace petrochemical derived waxes with vegetable sourced raw materials. Established surfactants do not work with saturated vegetable waxes, so new additives are needed for these sustainable, low-temperature application Materials.

The successful candidate with have at least an upper second-class degree in chemistry, or chemical engineering (with a chemistry minor), with experience of experimental synthetic chemistry gained in a Royal Society of Chemistry-accredited training environment. Excellent presentation skills will be required, as will an enthusiasm for working closely with an industry partner.
Enterprise and collaborative partners

This PhD is a collaborative research project between Lancaster University (, and will be supervised by Head of the Lancaster University Chemistry Department Professor Joe Sweeney and Kerax Ltd (

Based in Chorley, Lancashire, Kerax manufacture formulated wax products from vegetable and petrochemical raw materials. The product portfolio is extensive as the industries we supply range from additives for all-weather horse racetracks through industrial application such as investment casting to pharmaceutical raw materials. Innovation and bespoke products are key to our business model.

This project is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund and is subject to funding confirmation.


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