The project: Vitamin K1 is an essential nutrient in both human and animal nutrition. Given the increasing environmental pressures facing us as a society there is a need to develop safe, sustainable and cost-effective production methods for important compounds.
We have previously shown that microalgae are a rich source of Vitamin K1, and there is considerable potential for these organisms to be used in sustainable production. This is because they are photosynthetic, meaning the primary inputs to the process are sunlight and carbon dioxide. Additionally, production using microalgae is favourable as they do not need to be grown using arable land or potable water, avoiding competition with existing food production methods. However, the diversity of microalgae has yet to be fully explored, and there are some challenges in developing and scaling-up processes.
This project aims to address these challenges in order to develop novel, sustainable production processes.
What you will be doing: this project will be primarily lab based. Students working on this project can:
• Cultivate a range of species of microalgae and cyanobacteria at small (< 250 mL) scales, as well as at larger (3 L) scales using custom built photo-bioreactors.
• Learn skills related to the extraction of vitamin K1 from algal biomass, as well as quantitating the concentrations using HPLC
• Learn skills in process development and optimisation
• Learn skills in process modelling and techno-economic evaluation.
Work on the project is not limited to these areas – if you have an area you are particularly interested in please get in touch.
Applicants should have a First Class or Upper Second Class Honours degree, or a MSc in chemical engineering, biotechnology or a related discipline. Applicants should be able to work independently, have good written and oral communication skills and be self-motivated.
Doctoral research programmes (PhDs) take a proud place in the world-class research environment and community at Brunel. PhD students are recognised and valued by their supervisors as an essential part of their departments and a key component of the university's overall strategy to develop and deliver world-class research.
A PhD programme is expected to take 3 years full-time or 6 years part-time, with intakes starting in January, April or October.
The general University entrance requirement for registration for a research degree is normally a First or Upper Second Class Honours degree (1st or 2:1) or an international equivalent. A Masters degree is a welcome, but not required, qualification for entry.
Find out how to apply for a PhD at Brunel
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