PhD Studentship: Reprocessing Under-Utilised Onion Waste

University of Reading - Department of Food and Nutritional Sciences

Supervisors:  Professor Charalampopoulos, Dr Steve Elmore, Dr Julia Rodrigues GarciaProject Overview: 

Among vegetables, onion is the second most widely consumed crop, providing a relatively high value raw material for food industries. There are very large quantities of onion waste across current value chain (>6M tons in the Europe) which currently remain under exploited. The substantial amount of waste thus reduces the economic efficiency of the onion supply chain while also increasing the carbon footprint and environmental impact. The efficient food production with total usage of agricultural raw materials offers a wealth of opportunities for developing a smart circular economy. This proposal aims to develop technical understanding towards valorising onion side-streams using novel process technologies in order to create structuring ingredients and natural flavours, with the view to improve sustainability and create economic value for the food sector.


  1. Map key onion waste/side streams across Europe, including an evaluation of stabilisation strategies, logistics and transport.
  2. Tailor current methods and explore novel technologies for optimising the extraction, stabilisation and application of functional biomaterials from onion waste/side streams.
  3. Understand how structuring properties are affected by onion fibre composition and can be maximized via suitable physicochemical modifications (e.g. via hydrothermal treatment, shear activation, etc, and/or scope new technologies).

Major Skills/Techniques PhD student will be trained on:

  • Separation science & technology.
  • Biotransformation of vegetable waste stream (enzymology/fermentation).
  • Bio-refinery concept including LCA modelling.
  • General food chemistry/biochemistry.


  • Applicants should hold or expect to gain a minimum of a 2:1 Bachelor Degree or equivalent in Food Science and Technology or relevant subject.
  • Due to restrictions on the funding this studentship is open to UK applicants and EU applicants that are ‘ordinarily resident’ in the UK for 3 years continuously prior to the start of the grant.

Funding Details:

  • The project is funded by the BBSRC Collaborative Training Partnerships (CTP) scheme and will be conducted in collaboration with Unilever as the industrial partner.
  • The 4-year PhD programme will start on the 22nd of January 2018 and be completed by the 21st January 2022.
  • The PhD studentship covers a stipend of £16,553 per annum, research costs and tuition fees at UK/EU rate.

How to apply:

To apply for this studentship please submit an on-line application for a PhD in Food Science and Technology at the Department of Food and Nutritional Sciences, at:

*Important notes*

  • 1) Please quote the reference ‘GS17-213’ in the ‘Scholarships applied for’ box which appears within the Funding Section of your on-line application. 
  • 2) When you are prompted to upload a research proposal, please omit this step.

Further Enquiries:

Please note that, where a candidate is successful in being awarded funding, this will be confirmed via a formal studentship award letter; this will be provided separately from any Offer of Admission and will be subject to standard checks for eligibility and other criteria. 

For further details please contact:

Dimitris Charalampopoulos
Professor of Biotechnology
Department of Food and Nutritional Sciences
Tel.: 0044 (0)118 3788216

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South East England