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Waste plastic to high value chemicals

   School of Science

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  Dr S Christie, Dr J Xuan, Dr J Wagner  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Preparing new plastics from non-renewable fossils fuels is not sustainable in the long term, and waste plastics are an environmental problem throughout the world. Recycling technologies can reduce the need for new plastics, but new, more efficient processes are required. 

This PhD project will look at alternative ways to produce high value products. In particular small molecules from gaseous by-products of plastic recycling will be targeted for activation and conversion, up-cycling these to useful, high value chemicals.

Loughborough University is a top-ten rated university in England for research intensity (REF, 2014) and an outstanding 66% of the work of Loughborough’s academic staff who were eligible to be submitted to the REF was judged as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’, compared to a national average figure of 43%.

In choosing Loughborough for your research, you’ll work alongside academics who are leaders in their field. You will benefit from comprehensive support and guidance from our Doctoral College, including tailored careers advice, to help you succeed in your research and future career. Find out more.


The project will involve elements of both chemistry and chemical engineering, transforming the current methodologies to produce new protocols for high value chemical production. The project will cover fundamental chemistry of pyrolysis, catalytic C-H activation, through to reactor design and product analysis. The student will address how to activate small molecules which are normally lost during the pyrolysis process, and transform these into high value chemicals. In parallel, we will look to incorporate these new processes into scale versions of pyrolysis equipment to facilitate larger scale production. 

The student will work across the Departments of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at Loughborough, and the UKRI Interdisciplinary Centre for the Chemical Circular Economy. In addition, there will be opportunities to engage and collaborate with our partner Plastic Energy to show the real-world application of the project.

Working as part of a multi-disciplinary team, the student will gain skills in experimental and reactor design, online analysis, small molecule activation and catalysis.

Find out more:

Entry requirements for United Kingdom

Applicants should have, or expect to achieve, at least a 2:1 Honours degree (or equivalent) in Chemistry or Chemical Engineering or a related subject. A relevant Master’s degree and/or experience in one or more of the following will be an advantage: Chemistry, Chemical Engineering.

Please see the programme website for international entry requirements by country.

English language requirements

Applicants must meet the minimum English language requirements. Further details are available on the International website.


All applications should be made online at Under programme name, select 'Chemistry'

Please quote reference number: SC/CM/2022

Funding Notes

Please note that studentships will be awarded on a competitive basis to applicants who have applied to this project and other advertised projects within the School. Funding decisions will not be confirmed until early 2022. The studentship is for three years and provides a tax-free stipend of £15,609 per annum for the duration of the studentship plus tuition fees at the UK rate. International (including EU) students may apply however the total value of the studentship will cover the International Tuition Fee Only.
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