LITAC – Regeneration of Polyester Fibres from Used Garments via a New Chemical Recycling Technology


   Leeds Institute of Textiles and Colour

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  Prof Ningtao Mao, Dr B Nguyen  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Would you like to utilise your Textile Technology, Chemistry or Biomedical Engineering background to help produce research that will yield significant impact for the globe, helping the UK to meet Sustainable Development Goals? If so, this PhD Scholarship may just be for you.

Across the globe, 53m tonnes of fibres are consumed each year; the UK is responsible for 1m tonnes of these textiles alone.

Of these fibres, the majority end up in landfill or incineration and currently only 1% of used textiles are recycled back into textile manufacturing processes. More than 60% of fibres used in making apparel are polyester, however, the degradation of thermoplastic synthetic fibres, such as polyester during the melting process3 in mechanical recycling, and the use of toxic and hazardous solvents including ionic liquids in chemical recycling, prevent the used textiles from being up/recycled. Recently deep eutectic solvents (DES) have been demonstrated as viable alternatives for ionic liquids in glycolysis and hydrolysis of polyester to monomers, opening up the possibility of commercially viable recycling and upcycling of textile polymers.

This project will investigate a novel technology of incomplete hydrolysis of polyester fibres in an optimised DES formulation to produce oligomers (10-20 units, which can be reassembled into polymers), rather than monomers which are formed by existing technologies to engineer a novel polyester recycling technology for the regeneration of recycled polyester into high performance polyester fibres. The project will explore a vast variety of DES for dissolving polyester fabrics and employ modern statistical techniques such as Design of Experiment (DoE) and Machine Learning (ML) to help optimise the DES formulations for the polyester dissolving and fibre formation processes.

As well utilising School of Design facilities, the project will incorporate process development expertise and flow equipment within the Institute of Process Research & Development (iPRD).

Industrial Collaborations:

The successful applicant will join the Leeds Institute of Textiles and Colour (LITAC), a collaborative international research Institute that applies academic expertise, working together with external partners, both industrial from across the world, to address global challenges and sustainable development in textile and colour industries. We are focused on the development of innovative science and technology, materials, methods and processes. Technology-driven sustainable development is a major part of our work, hosted by the School of Design at the University of Leeds. 

The School of Design is a world leading research centre with a focus in creativity and developing innovative materials and manufacturing solutions with interdisciplinary researchers and industrial partners.

We have a strong industrial collaboration with UK and international based textiles and natural polymers manufacturing industries. These industrial collaborators along with potential multinational fashion brands will work closely with the PhD student.

Other Conditions

o   Applicants must not have already been awarded or be currently studying for a doctoral degree.

o   Applicants must live within a reasonable distance of the University of Leeds whilst in receipt of this scholarship.

How to apply

Stage 1

First, apply for a research place of study, through the online application form. Please state clearly that the funding you wish to be considered for is ‘LITAC – Regeneration of Polyester Fibres from Used Garments via a New Chemical Recycling Technology’ with Professor Ningtao Mao and Dr Bao Nguyen as your proposed supervisors. You will be expected to meet our eligibility criteria for PHD candidates.

In order to be considered for the Studentship you must submit all the required supporting documents for your application for PhD study.

Please note that you will not need to submit a Research Proposal as part of your application for this project. In place of a Research Proposal please can you submit a statement which conveys your motivation and enthusiasm for the project as outlined in the Scholarship advert. See stage 2 below.

Once you have received your student ID number (a 9-digit number) move onto stage 2. 

Stage 2

Apply for the LITAC - Regeneration of Polyester Fibres from Used Garments via a New Chemical Recycling Technology’ by completing the Scholarship Application Form. You must submit your scholarship application by 17.00 p.m. on Thursday 4th January 2024.

The scholarship application includes the supporting statement referenced in Stage 1. This statement should demonstrate your suitability for your intended PhD Project and not be longer than two pages. The statement should specifically include details on your interest in the project and why you have chosen to apply for this in particular. The statement should also include how you will apply your current skills, knowledge and experience to undertake the PhD and the approach you would take to develop the project.

As an international research-intensive university, we welcome students from all walks of life and from across the world. We foster an inclusive environment where all can flourish and prosper, and we are proud of our strong commitment to student education. Across all Faculties we are dedicated to diversifying our community and we welcome the unique contributions that individuals can bring, and particularly encourage applications from, but not limited to Black, Asian, people who belong to a minority ethnic community, people who identify as LGBT+ and people with disabilities. Applicants will always be selected based on merit and ability. 

If English is not your first language, you must provide evidence that you meet the University's minimum English language requirements (below).

Entry requirements

Applicants should have at least a first class or an upper second class British Bachelors Honours degree (or equivalent) in Textile Technology, Chemistry, Biochemical Engineering or another appropriate undergraduate or Masters discipline.

Applicants who are uncertain about the requirements for this research degree course are advised to contact Professor Ningtao Mao (main supervisor) or Dr Bao Nguyen prior to making an application.

Contact details

For further information related to the admissions process, please contact [Email Address Removed].

Creative Arts & Design (9) Materials Science (24)

Funding Notes

LITAC (Leeds Institute of Textiles and Colour) hosted by the School of Design, is offering a number of highly competitive PhD scholarships consisting of the award of tuition fees and an annual maintenance stipend that matches UKRI rates (18,622 GBP in 2023/24) along with a significant element of training and development expenses also incorporated within the Scholarship package. The scholarships are available to start in either April or October 2024, but must taken up by 1st October 2024 at the latest. All candidates must be UK applicants and will be assessed and selection is based on academic merit.

Where will I study?

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