PhD Studentship: Development of Nanotechnology Informed Clean-In-Place Strategy

University of Birmingham - School of Chemical Engineering

Supervisors: Prof. Peter Fryer [Lead] and Dr Zhenyu J. Zhang

Description:

Motivation:

Fouling is a major industrial problem in which solids or soft solid layers deposit and accumulate on the interior surfaces of process plant. Consequently, many actions in the food, pharmaceutical, and personal care industries are required to clean surfaces, which is both environmentally damaging and inefficient from process perspective. There is a significant industrial drive for effective Clean-In-Place strategy to reduce or eliminate fouling and minimise the amount of cleaning needed which requires understanding at molecular scale. However, mechanisms concerning the formation and removal of surface fouling at the microscopic scale are proving inaccessible by conventional techniques.

Some of our work in this area is published as Goode et al, 2013 [DOI  10.1111/1541-4337.12000]  In recent work [with Ohio State; Phinney et al, doi.org/10.1016/ j.jfoodeng.2017.06.019] we have used nanoscale methods to look at how surfaces and fouling deposit might interact, and on how clean ‘clean’ surfaces actually are. This work will be extended in the new project.

Aim:

By employing nanoscopic techniques, we aim to establish fundamental understanding of the mechanical characteristics of fouling. This will lead to long-term recommendations to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of clean-in-place strategy.

Objectives:

The objectives of this proposed work are the following:

  • Quantify the forces between engineering related substrates such as stainless steel and deposits, and to establish the correlation over multiple length scales.
  • Characterise the physical properties of the fouling films such as elasticity, and correlate so with such results acquired at mesoscale.
  • Investigate the effect of surface characteristics, e.g. functional group, surface topography, on the adhesion and/or removal of the deposit.
  • Examine the influence of cleaning agents on the structure and cohesion/adhesion of the deposit film to optimise the required condition/amount

This project is fully funded by the School of Chemical Engineering and is open to UK/EU students with a 2i Hons degree or higher in Chemical Engineering, Chemistry or Physics.

If you are interested please send your CV to Dr Jason Zhang by clicking the 'apply' button below.

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Type / Role:

PhD

Location(s):

Midlands of England