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Microalgae as Biocatalysts for Biopolymers Production

University of Nottingham - Chemical & Environmental Engineering

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Nottingham
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students, International Students
Funding amount: £15,999 p.a. tax free for 2022/23
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 16th August 2022
Closes: 7th October 2022
Reference: ENG1584

Microalgae as biocatalysts for biopolymers production

Over the last decades, the rapid increase in demand, and therefore production, of synthetic plastics has resulted in considerable energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, along with the release of hazardous pollutants to the environment. Nowadays, Plastic pollution has become one of the most crucial environmental concerns. Plastic production has exceeded 8300 million tonnes (MT) since 1950s, 380 MT in 2015 alone, and around 80% of plastic waste is present in the environment, especially oceans or landfill. On the other hand, biopolymers have been recognized as promising alternatives to replace conventional plastics, as they can be produced from renewable biomass resources and a wide variety of microorganisms, requiring lower energy consumption in comparison. Biopolymers deriving from biological sources include proteins, polysaccharides, lipids, polyesters which are produced from fast-growing microorganisms, such as photosynthetic bacteria and microalgae. These microorganisms have recently attracted a lot of attention due to their high potential in mitigating COduring photoautotrophic growth, using light as a sole energy source to assimilate inorganic carbon sources. Biopolymers can be a good alternative to conventional polymers. They have a wide variety of applications i.e., as food additives, in packaging, automobiles, medicine, textiles and agricultural sector, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics, and their production results in lower greenhouse gas emissions compared to conventional plastics.

This project aims to:

  • Evaluate the feasibility of algal species to produce high value-added materials and chemicals,
  • Develop and optimise production bioprocess through methodologies such as design-by-experiments (DoE), response surface methodology (RSM) etc.,
  • Study of the physicochemical properties of the derived biomaterials and identify potential high-end applications

Application details:

The position is available to start in October 2022.

Duration: 3 years

Closing date: open until filled 

Eligibility:

Applicants should have, or expect to obtain, a 1st class or 2.1 honours degree in Biotechnology, Chemical Engineering, Materials Science, or a related subject. A relevant MSc in these areas would be advantageous. 

Funding:

Eligible for home students. You will join the Sustainable Process Technologies (SPT) group at the Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering. This project will include the payment of tuition fees as well as a stipend equivalent to RCUK rates (currently at £15,999 p.a. tax free for 2022/23) awarded to the suitable candidate. 

How to apply:

Informal contact can be sent to Dr Konstantina Kourmentza (Konstantina.Kourmentza@nottingham.ac.uk) before submitting an online application. Please send a cover letter and a copy of your CV with your up-to-date relevant experience. 

Online application can be made via http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/pgstudy/how-to-apply/how-to-apply.aspx

When applying for this studentship, please include the reference number (beginning ENG) within the personal statement section of the application. This will help in ensuring your application is sent directly to the academic advertising the studentship.

Contact details:

Dr Konstantina Kourmentza (Konstantina.Kourmentza@nottingham.ac.uk)

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