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New Sustainable Methods in Remanufacturing Thermoset Polymers to Inherently Safe Materials (RDF19/HLS/AS/UNTHANK)

   Faculty of Health and Life Sciences

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

About the Project

Our group at Northumbria University in Newcastle are committed to developing new macromolecules, polymers and chemical processes, and implementing these to solve real-life problems that impact the environment and world we live in. If you are passionate about exploring new materials and processes to reduce landfill and improve health and safety then this could be the PhD project for you. In addition to being passionate about research and ‘real-life’ applications of chemistry, candidates should have a strong interest in Organic Synthesis, Polymer Chemistry and Materials Science.

The research project will have two focus areas centred in our multidisciplinary research department. The first research theme will be the development of new polymers and thermoset materials that are designed to operate in extreme ‘high performance’ applications, for example in aerospace and automotive composites. These unique materials will also be designed on a molecular level for remanufacturing and recycling through novel retro-polymerisation reactions. We will focus on commercial materials produced and disposed of on a multi-million tonnes per annum scale that are currently destined for landfill. Through the development and optimisation of organic chemistry transformations applied to polymeric materials, you will explore novel and exciting routes to regeneration and recycling of the molecular components of these important materials. This will involve applied organic synthesis as well as reaction optimisation and scale-up.

The second related focus area of this project will be in the exploration of new polymers and materials that are inherently safe to human health and the environment, but that are again designed for use in extreme high performance industrial applications. This will involve the synthesis of novel functional and reactive polymers and materials including the use of advanced characterisation techniques. You will apply your knowledge of macromolecular chemistry and organic synthesis to develop and optimise novel, chemo-selective cross-linking reactions as a route to new high-performance polymers and materials.
Eligibility and How to Apply:
Please note eligibility requirement:
• Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
• Appropriate IELTS score, if required.
• Applicants cannot apply for this funding if currently engaged in Doctoral study at Northumbria or elsewhere.

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see

Please note: All applications must include a covering letter (up to 1000 words maximum) including why you are interested in this PhD, a summary of the relevant experience you can bring to this project and of your understanding of this subject area with relevant references (beyond the information already provided in the advert).

Deadline for applications: Friday 25 January 2019

Start Date: 1 October 2019

Northumbria University is an equal opportunities provider and in welcoming applications for studentships from all sectors of the community we strongly encourage applications from women and under-represented groups.

Faculty: Faculty of Health and Life Sciences
Department: Applied Sciences
Principal Supervisor: Dr Matt Unthank

Funding Notes

The studentship is available to Home/EU students where a full stipend, paid for three years at RCUK rates (for 2018/19, this is £14,777 pa) and full fees.


A. Ironmonger, M. Shipton, F. Slater, P. Szeto, M. G. Unthank, F-R, Alexandre, C. Caillet, C. B. Dousson, A highly diastereoselective chloride-mediated dynamic kinetic resolution at phosphorus on-route to a key intermediate in the synthesis of GSK2248761A, Tetrahedron Lett. 2018, 59(22), 2154-2156.

M. G. Unthank, I. M. Jackson, B. Thompson, Process for the manufacture of an epoxy-functional polyester, epoxy-functional polyester obtained by such process and coating composition comprising such epoxy-functional polyester, WO 2018011103, 2018

C. Cameron, A. Wright, M. G. Unthank, Coating method for surfaces in chemical installations, WO 2015165808, 2015.
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