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KESS 2 MPhil Scholarship: Smile Plastics; Identifying the effects of UV Photodegradation and weathering on recycled plastic products.

   Institute of Geography & Earth Sciences

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  Dr Chris Finlayson  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

This project seeks to evaluate how transparent UV protective coatings can impact the photo degradation of recycled plastic products manufactured by Smile Plastics. This collaborative research project was initiated in conjunction with the Centre for Photonlcs Expertise (CPE).

Smile Plastics take ‘waste’ plastics and other materials traditionally classed as waste and transform them through a unique process into large scale, solid surface panels. The process predominantly employs single-use plastic packaging and similar materials from a variety of post-consumer and post-industrial sources, all of which would typically be disposed by way of landfill. The finished Smile Plastic product is 100% recycled and recyclable, with each high-quality engineered panel a unique piece. These panels are sold to a range of designers and architects for use in a diverse range of projects ranging from art installations through jewellery and furniture to concept car interiors.

Smile Plastics and CPE have identified that an opportunity exists. to better understand the effects of UV photo degradation on the company’s recycled plastic products. This need has been inspired by’ some the diverse applications that Smile Plastics products have been used in, where photodegradation has been observed but the process is not fully understood.

The proposed Masters project will extend the Initial collaborative investigations by investigating the effects of UV photodegradation on Smile Plastics panel products-and the impact of selected UV protective coatings. In addition, the project will seek to establish the legislative and product evaluation framework in which Smile Plastics products are marketed. This project aims to enhance product and process understanding and thus minimise potential degradation, thereby extending product lifetimes. To achieve this, we need to know the optimum test specifications to apply to the Smile products. In addition, we need to develop an appropriate testing mechanism .

Specific Activities will require a Masters research studentship to complete 2 work packages:

1) To fully identify the legislative and testing standards applicable to Smile Plastics product in the area of weathering (UV degradation), material chemical and mechanical properties.

2) To optimise the testing specifications for use at the factory and evaluate the effectiveness of potentially beneficial UV protective coatings that are identified.

3) Testing of materials to measure performance against standard materials, and untreaded samples.

It is therefore the objective of the current application to request a Kess2 Studentship Award, under the guidance of the named researchers, to extend preliminary data that would be pivotal in the support of a new process development.

The prospective applicant should have a minimum of a 1st or good 2:1 in a relevant degree, and be available to take up the studentship by 1st October 2022. The project is part-funded by the European Social Fund (ESF) through the European Union’s Convergence programme administered by the Welsh Government. KESS 2 Masters scholarships are collaborative awards with external partners. (Applicants need to only apply, they do not need to search for partners.)

To apply, please submit the following to the Postgraduate Admissions Office by 24th September 2022

1. A completed Research Programme Application, an up-to-date CV and two references. Applications should be made via the online Postgraduate Admissions Portal at Here applicants can provide us with their personal details, select their chosen course and upload documents in support of their application. If you cannot find the specific project, or have any questions regarding the application process, please contact the Postgraduate Admissions Office ([Email Address Removed]) for further advice.

2. A completed KESS 2 Participant proposal form (put the reference number AUM70008 in the top right-hand box of the application form) and an up-to-date CV. KESS II application forms are available to download at the link below.

Please email a completed KESS II Participant proposal form to [Email Address Removed] and [Email Address Removed]

3. A supporting statement of up to 1,000 words where you expand on your experience and interests and describe why you are a good candidate for this research studentship. Please refer to the Project Description. This can be uploaded via the Postgraduate Admissions Portal at the point of application or submitted via email to [Email Address Removed]

Value of Award: A stipend of £11,937. Each scholarship has an additional budget for travel, equipment/consumables and training to support your research. KESS II Masters Scholarship holders do not pay fees.

Length: Full-time for 1 year. (Theses must be submitted 3 months after the funded year study period.)

Training: The achievement of a Postgraduate Skills Development Award (PSDA) is compulsory for each KESS II scholar (The PSDA is based on a 60 credit award, which is an additional award to the Masters).

Eligibility: Due to ESF funding, eligibility restrictions apply to this scholarship. To be eligible, the successful candidate will need to be an EU national and resident in East Wales on University registration, and must also have the right to work in the region on qualification. The Convergence Area means the following counties of Wales:

  • Isle of Anglesey
  • Gwynedd
  • Conwy
  • Denbighshire
  • Ceredigion
  • Carmarthenshire
  • Pembrokeshire
  • Swansea
  • Neath Port Talbot
  • Bridgend
  • Rhondda Cynon Taff
  • Caerphilly
  • Torfaen

Informal enquiries should be made to Dr Chris Finlayson at [Email Address Removed] or 01970 622818

Quote Reference AUM70008

Closing date for applications 24 September 2022

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