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Enzymatic membrane reactors in organic media

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  • Full or part time
    Dr G Szekely
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Self-Funded PhD Students Only
    Self-Funded PhD Students Only

Project Description

Enzymes are catalysts of biological origin and thus they are conventionally used solely in aqueous environment. However, in addition to the use of enzymes in biphasic organic/aqueous systems, the application of enzymes in pure organic media has gained considerable attention. In certain cases enzymes in pure organic phase exhibit novel properties, such as enhanced thermostability, conformational rigidity and altered substrate specificity. For instance the alpha-chymotrypsin enzyme in aqueous media catalyses the hydrolysis of peptides, while in anhydrous organic solvents it catalyses the transesterification of amino acid esters. Enzymes in organic solvents are used to catalyse reactions that are not feasible in aqueous systems owing, for instance, to unfavourable thermodynamic equilibria or low solubility of reagents. Hydrolases, and in particular lipases, are used in organic solvents to catalyse a variety of reactions – esterification, alcoholysis, aminolysis – that in aqueous systems are prevented by hydrolysis.

Enzymatic reactions in the chemical and pharmaceutical industry are frequently performed in organic solvents and consist of products with high added value that should be purified and separated from the catalyst in organic media. The isolation of products and recovery of enzymes could be performed via Organic Solvent Nanofiltration. These processes require highly selective membranes capable of discriminating between solutes of different molecular size and/or physicochemical properties.

This project will discover how to increase the lifetime of natural enzymes in organic media by developing continuous enzymatic membrane reactors. The project is highly multidisciplinary providing candidates with engineering and science backgrounds with an understanding of the fundamentals of chemical engineering, chemistry and material science. It is appropriate for those who aspire to lead technology development and engineering and create new technology-enabled ventures.

The ideal candidate has (or is in process to obtain) a first or high 2.1 class degree in chemical engineering, chemistry, material science or bioengineering.
Informal enquiries with CV attached can be sent to Dr. Gyorgy Szekely ([email protected]), School of Chemical Engineering and Analytical Science, The University of Manchester.

Funding Notes

The ideal candidate has (or is in process to obtain) a first or high 2.1 class degree in chemical engineering, chemistry, material science or bioengineering. Informal enquiries with CV attached can be sent to Dr. Gyorgy Szekely ([email protected]), School of Chemical Engineering and Analytical Science, The University of Manchester.

If you wish to apply for this project, please choose 'PhD Chemical Engineering and Analytical Science' from the list of available programmes.

How good is research at University of Manchester in Aeronautical, Mechanical, Chemical and Manufacturing Engineering?
Chemical Engineering

FTE Category A staff submitted: 33.90

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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