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Recycled material composition and properties - influence on performance in relation to use within the OGEL construction system (Advert Reference: MOBIE21-R2/EE/MCE/CONNORChris)

   Faculty of Engineering and Environment

   Friday, October 01, 2021  Competition Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

Newcastle United Kingdom Manufacturing Engineering Mechanical Engineering Materials Science

About the Project

This project is in collaboration with an industrial partner - the innovative OGEL system is a disruptive technology due to its use of waste materials, speed and ease of use, modularity, reusability and compactness in transportation and has multiple uses in various scenarios.

The current extrusion of OGEL profiles uses recycled styrene materials. Presently, the composition of this material is based upon managed recycled material, the composition of which is tightly controlled and limited, and these are then processed via the extrusion process into the particular and very specific profile shapes that the OGEL construction system demands.

The base styrene material used at the moment that is processed from raw recycled material into the OGEL profiles at 80% General Purpose Polystyrene (GPPS) / 20% High Impact Polystyrene (HIPS) using the extrusion process. The source of these materials can be anything from white packaging, plant pots, car linings etc for GPPS to the whole interiors of fridges, freezers etc for HIPS. The materials are considered to be relatively pure (>98% styrene) and has limited content of other materials and what might be termed “contaminants”.

Through a combination of mathematical modelling and materials testing the research is to explore the impact upon material properties and characteristics within the context of the manufacturing process and associated variables in order to be able to identify and quantify the impact of such inclusions. The impact will be considered within the operational performance and economic expectations associated with the OGEL product and its use.

Baseline performance evaluation will be carried out on the existing recycled material, and exploration of potential inclusion of other material constituents that may be expected to be incorporated from potential recycling recovery operations. The research will also include consideration of additional, desirable optimal inclusions which may improve the material performance, taking into consideration the possibility of such aspects from a commercial and materials processing perspective.

Significant areas of operational performance evaluation will include investigation of characteristics related to structural strength and flame retardance given that these areas relate to core development of the OGEL system in terms of its use as a construction process. Another prime area of investigation in relation to explored material composition and use is the environmental impact and sustainability credentials of any such mixture of materials and their potential contribution to the circular economy that may offer possible advantages over any existing activities.

This project is supervised by Dr Chris Connor.

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: Applications that do not include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words (not a copy of the advert), or that do not include the advert reference (e.g. MOBIE21-R2/EE/MCE/CONNORChris) will not be considered.

Deadline for applications: 1 October 2021

Start Date: 1 March 2022

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.

Funding Notes

The studentship is available to Home Students and includes a full stipend, paid for 3 years at RCUK rates (for 2021/2, this is £15,609 p.a.) and full tuition fees.
* Please note that in order to be classed as Home Student, candidates must meet the following criteria:
- be a UK National (meeting residency requirements), or
- have settled status, or
- have pre-settled status (meeting residency requirements), or
- have indefinite leave to remain or enter.

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