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  In-line process monitoring for microalgae cultivation


   Department of Chemical and Process Engineering

   Applications accepted all year round  Awaiting Funding Decision/Possible External Funding

About the Project

Phototrophic microorganisms that convert carbon dioxide are being explored for their capacity to solve different environmental issues and produce bioactive compounds for human therapeutics and as food additives. Closed photobioreactor systems have been gaining interest in recent years due to their offering of a higher yield of biomass and product as well as higher photosynthetic efficiency and lower water loss thanks to the controlled environment. Such systems are, however, much more expensive to run, compared to the traditional open-pond systems. 

While closed systems enable higher productivity, much of the process control and monitoring rely on the same offline, manual analysis developed for the open-pond system, missing or causing delays in responding to process changes. The aim of this project is to develop in-line measurement methods to provide product-related critical quality attributes, such as biomass and nutrient concentrations, that allow agile response to close photobioreactor systems. This will be based on the development of a measurement-analysis approach using the novel spatially resolved spectroscopy (SRS) probes developed in the research group. 

The SRS probes measure Raman and UV-vis-NIR spectra using the unique spatially resolved optical design to increase the sampling depth while avoiding specular reflectance from the surface. The probes consist of several optical configurations, and this study will evaluate and select suitable configurations for following the significant changes in the optical properties as a result of growth in microalgae populations. Specific objectives are: 

1. Set up and perform biophotoreaction with varied experimental conditions. 

2. Collect and evaluate the Raman and UV-vis-NIR spectra obtained from the SRS probes. 

3. Develop the spectral analysis method to extract critical quality attributes from the SRS measurements. 

In addition to undertaking cutting edge research, students are also registered for the Postgraduate Certificate in Researcher Development (PGCert), which is a supplementary qualification that develops a student’s skills, networks and career prospects. 

Information about the host department can be found by visiting: 

www.strath.ac.uk/engineering/chemicalprocessengineering 

www.strath.ac.uk/courses/research/chemicalprocessengineering/ 

 The University of Strathclyde is a socially progressive institution that strives to ensure equality of opportunity and celebrates the diversity of its student and staff community. Strathclyde is people-oriented and collaborative, offering a supportive and flexible working culture with a deep commitment to our equality, diversity and inclusion charters, initiatives, groups and networks. 

We strongly encourage applications from Black, Asian and minority ethnicity, women, LGBT+, and disabled candidates and candidates from lower socio-economic groups and care-experienced backgrounds. 


Biological Sciences (4) Chemistry (6) Engineering (12) Environmental Sciences (13) Materials Science (24)

Funding Notes

Awaiting for funding outcome. Funding may be available depending on the quality of the application and external funding scheme.

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