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Valorization of spent coffee grounds (SCG) for the recovery of high value-added products and the production of microbial cultivation media (ENG1348)

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Monday, May 11, 2020
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Until a few decades ago, common practices for the treatment of food waste included their use as animal feed, production of compost and their disposal in landfills. However, via the Landfill Directive it has been established that landfilling is no longer sustainable and aims at reducing the amounts currently being disposed. Another key legislative instrument is the Waste Framework Directive, which introduces relative priority between methods for waste management such as the ‘waste hierarchy’. According to ‘waste hierarchy’, biowaste legislation and policy of the EU Member States include waste prevention, re-use, recycling, recovery and lastly disposal.

Increasing global environmental awareness, tighter regulatory trends regarding waste disposal and the projected decrease of fossil resources in the forthcoming future, have driven research towards the implementation of sustainable strategies in the industry. Innovative and environmentally sound methodologies for the exploitation of various waste-streams have gained interest among the scientific society. In the frame of circular economy, wastes are perceived as a source for the recovery of high value-added compounds, and therefore expected to improve the management of biological resources and open new markets in novel bio-based products.

SCG is an abundant, low cost raw material characterized by high organic content, insoluble polysaccharides bound to the material, fatty and amino acids, polyphenols and minerals. The scope of the current project in to develop a holistic biorefinery approach in order to eliminate SCG disposal and obtain high value-added products by:

Efficient recovery of polyphenols and oil, present in SCG, and
Chemical and/or biological hydrolysis of detoxified and defatted SCG to simple sugars, as well as hydrolysates characterization, to enable numerous potential pathways to biofuels and biochemicals via the sugar-platform.


Applicants should have, or expect to obtain, a 1st class or 2.1 honours degree (or international equivalent) in Chemical/Biochemical Engineering, Materials Science, Chemistry, Biotechnology or any related discipline. A relevant master’s degree in these areas would be an advantage.

If English is not your first language, you must provide evidence that you meet the University’s minimum English Language requirements.

How to apply:

Informal contact can be sent to Dr Konstantina Kourmentza () before submitting an online application. Please send a cover letter and a copy of your CV with your up to date relevant experience.

Online application can be made via Please quote the studentship reference and Dr Konstantina Kourmentza.

When applying for this studentship, please include the reference number (beginning ENG) within the personal statement section of the application. This will help in ensuring your application is sent directly to the academic advertising the studentship.

Funding Notes

Due to funding restrictions this position is only available for UK or EU candidates.

Eligible for Home / EU candidates. This project will include the payment of tuition fees as well as a stipend equivalent to RCUK rates (currently at £15,009 p.a. tax free for 2019/20) awarded to the suitable candidate.

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