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Unravelling Interfacial Phenomena in the Presence of Ethanol

University of Birmingham - School of Chemical Engineering

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Birmingham
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students
Funding amount: Funding available for EU/UK students
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 13th February 2019
Closes: 14th May 2019

Location: University of Birmingham

Academic supervisors: Prof/s Bettina Wolf & Eddie Pelan

A fully funded studentship is available in the Formulation Engineering Research Group of the School of Chemical Engineering at the University of Birmingham. The project aims to use interfacial and sub-micron scale structure techniques to understand interfacial phenomena in emulsions stabilised with a mixed emulsifier system, comprising a protein and low molecular weight emulsifier, in the presence of ethanol, as a first step towards future design of more sustainable formulations and emulsion processes.

Quite frequently, food and beverage formulations and processes have evolved over the years with limited scientific understanding of the role of each ingredient or the selection of the processing regime. Formulation and process are intricately linked, and a deep understanding of the functionality of ingredients in formulation puts the design of a novel more sustainable process on much better footing than not.

The stability of emulsions where the oil/water interface is intended to be stabilised with a protein is strongly affected by other formulation ingredients that exhibit interfacial activity, such as low molecular weight surfactants or flavour compounds, or affect solvent quality, such as ethanol. While these phenomena are well known, there is lack of sufficient understanding to redesign these systems with a higher degree of freedom in terms of emulsifier choice and solvent quality. The postgraduate researcher will have access to a range of emulsification processes and a suite of analytical methods, including interfacial tension and rheology methods, to link the physicochemical emulsion properties to stability and formulation. In order to understand the molecular architecture at and near the interface, access to relevant scattering techniques can be applied for in consultation with the supervisors and an industry sponsor.  You will be expected to engage with the UK based partner company on a frequent basis during the course of the study, should any findings show a near in opportunity you will work with the company to test your findings.

Funding notes

  • The ideal candidate should have a good first degree (1st or 2.1) in Chemical Engineering, Food Process Engineering, Physical Chemistry, or Physics.
  • This project will be a 3 year PhD with funding available for EU/UK students.
  • Application deadline: This PhD is available now and open until filled.
  • Primary contact for further information: 
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