PhD Studentship: Green Chemistry Systems for Coloration Of Polyester: Development of Sustainable Solvents Systems and Application of CO2 Chemistry

University of Leeds

The textile industry has huge problems of inefficiency, pollution and waste. Traditional dyeing processes use 5.8 trillion litres of water and 391 billion kWh of energy p.a., and dye remaining after dyeing (plus other auxiliary chemicals), contributes one fifth of the world's industrial water pollution (World Bank). The Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC) program, a collaborative effort from 62 brands and supply chain affiliates, has issued a report on chemicals it seeks to phase out by 2020 based on hazard concerns they pose to human health, aquatic life, and the environment. Polyester is the number one synthetic fibre produced throughout the world (over 50 million tonnes p.a.), and its demand is expected to grow in the next decade, therefore, greener processes are critical for these final fabrics. Most polyester is dyed with disperse dyes at high temperatures (ca. 135 °C) in water. To address sustainability concerns in textile dyeing, this PhD research project will study how green systems can be integrated into polyester dyeing processes by exploring alternative, recyclable solvent systems other than water. In another aspect of the research, novel CO2 chemistry will be used to develop new disperse dyes that can be used in water without the need for auxiliary chemicals.

The research will enable the reduction of water consumption (and associated effluent treatment) and auxiliary chemicals providing both significant sustainability and economic benefits to the supply chain of the world’s most important textile fibre.

Research Methods

Specific details of the proposed research are confidential. The general aims of the research are:

Aim 1: Determining green solvent-dye compatibility for polyester dyeing with disperse dyes

Aim 2: Developing water-soluble CO2-derived disperse dyes for green water-based coloration of polyester

Financial Information:

From 1st October 2018.

*Home/EU: fees at the UK rate and a stipend of £16,000 p.a. for three years.

*International: International fee rate of £19,500 for three years. There is no stipend.

Also a budget for all research costs, i.e. to travel to international conferences to present the findings of the research.

Minimum Academic Requirements

If English is not your first language, then candidates must meet the following School’s language requirements.

The successful applicant should have or predicted to have a minimum equivalent of an upper second-class honours degree in chemistry, colour chemistry, or a closely related subject. Experience with and a passion for green chemistry is desirable, but previous experience with colorants is not a requirement.

Supervisory team

This PhD will be supervised by two leading academics in the field of green chemistry. Dr Richard Blackburn is Associate Professor of Coloration Technology and Head of the Sustainable Materials Research Group – he has expertise in colour chemistry, polymer chemistry, and sustainable textiles. Professor Chris Rayner is Professor of Organic Chemistry and is a world-leading academic in the fields of CO2 chemistry and natural products extraction. Both academics have significant expertise in application of research into industry and each have formed University spin-out companies.

Please contact Dr Richard Blackburn ( for any enquires and for details of how to apply.

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Northern England