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PhD Studentship - Biofilm Disrupters for the Maritime Industry

University of Liverpool

Project: Port City Innovation Hub

Academic Supervisor: Professor Dmitry Shchukin

About the Project

The University of Liverpool (UoL) and Real Sphere Eco World Limited (Real Sphere) are seeking to appoint a suitable experienced and qualified individual to undertake a three year doctoral research programme. This opportunity will remain open until the position has been filled and so early applications are encouraged.

The objective of this PhD project is to research the physical and chemical properties of more environmentally conscious and safer alternative biofilm disrupters in maritime applications (a $3bn per annum industry). Current practices require invasive and hazardous materials to break up biofilm growth in water systems. The new alternatives would be less toxic, delivering significant health and safety benefits. Longer term these materials will also have multi-sector impact, in commercial and domestic properties and mass transit systems.

The project will focus on the development and characterisation of different antimicrobial materials to fully characterise the properties and application conditions of a new green and safe Real Sphere product for prevention of pathogenic environments in maritime structures, in addition to the improvement of its efficiency for antimicrobial protection of passenger and cargo ships. UoL will provide access to all large-scale equipment (scanning electron microscopes (SEM), transmission electron microscopes (TEM), confocal microscopes, and equipment located in the Materials Innovation Factory). The student will acquire experience in analysis of the thermal and chemical properties of antimicrobial formulations, spectroscopic analysis of chemical structures, characterisation of antimicrobial efficiency, surface characterisation and use of large scale analytical equipment. Additional training and support will be provided by Real Sphere to study the industrial production environment and to engage in physical trials at international shipyards, to understand the issues and industry standard methods of water testing.

The successful applicant will have a Masters degree in Chemistry that includes knowledge of physical and organic chemistry. An interest and prior experience in antimicrobial formulation, data analysis and experimental techniques (FTIR, DLS, TEM/SEM, TGA) and experimental work is preferred. Candidates should also have an ambition to work on an industrial focussed project and be Prepared to travel both within the UK and internationally, particularly to the EU.

This PhD is one of 13 industry-led collaborative R&D projects from the Low Carbon Eco-Innovatory in their delivery of the Port City Innovation Hub (PCiH). The aim of the project is for you to work toward a PhD at the University of Liverpool through delivering ‘real – life’ solutions to industry. The PCiH supports businesses in the Liverpool City Region developing products or services within the maritime sector achieve economic growth. PCiH is a partnership with Mersey Maritime, Wirral Council and Wirral Chamber of Commerce to pilot activity in advance of the launch of the Maritime Knowledge Hub.

All PhD projects have been co-developed with SMEs and UoL to provide assistance in R&D where the company does not have internal expertise, resource or facilities to carry out the research. This will give you a strong advantage in entering a competitive jobs market in both the academic and commercial sectors.

Funding Notes

By joining PCiH you will receive a £16,000 tax free stipend per year, with your post-graduate tuition fees paid. The hub is part financed by the European Regional Development Fund and Liverpool City Region Combined Authority. Please visit for more information on the School of Environmental Science’s other innovation projects.

Please visit for more information on PCIH.

Application details:

To apply for this opportunity please E-Mail quoting UoL-PCiH-001 in the subject line with:

  • 2 page CV
  • 2 page expression of interest


Real Sphere Eco World is an SME that develops environmentally friendly cleaning products. They are novel and innovative in their use of materials and have developed new antimicrobial products, that will be launched in the next few months. In this project a novel biofilm disrupter will be developed, which has the potential to be a game changer in the maritime industry, as it will use non-hazardous products, and significantly reduce costs. It will be utilised in the water systems of yachts and ships, for both potable water and air conditioning units, and will also have cross-sector appeal.

As a prestigious Russell Group institution, the University of Liverpool is one of the most exciting places in the UK to study or research Chemistry. Our Chemistry Department is internationally known for its research in fields such as materials chemistry, chemistry of world health, chemical models, energy and interfaces and organic synthesis and catalysis. This is a place where academic and industrial researchers work side by side, sharing knowledge in highly advanced research labs.

This model of working with industry has been particularly successful, so much so that we have now developed a £81 million Materials Innovation Factory in partnership with Unilever; a state of the art facility co-locating up to 250 researchers from academia and industry with shared access to a suite of cutting edge materials chemistry equipment.

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Liverpool
Funding for: UK Students
Funding amount: £16,000 - please see advert
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 9th September 2021
Closes: 7th December 2021
Reference: UoL-PCiH-001
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