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PhD Studentship: Geopolymeric Membranes for Water Purification on Mars and the Moon.

University of Birmingham - Department of Civil Engineering

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Birmingham
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students
Funding amount: Not Specified
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 3rd October 2022
Closes: 3rd January 2023

Martian and lunar dust simulants are terrestrial material designed to simulate the known chemical and mechanical properties of martian and lunar soil (regolith). In a recent publication [1], we showed that both regoliths can be transformed in a solid, rock-like material, by means of a process called geopolymerization. Geopolymers are a class of materials formed by the reaction of an alkaline solution with aluminosilicates: they are mostly known as building materials, but they can also be used as inorganic membrane for water purification [2]. In this project, we want to study the martian and lunar geopolymers as an effective material for membranes for water purification.

The objective of this PhD project is (i) to investigate the efficiency of membranes produced from geopolymerization of several types of simulants, and (ii) to determine the ‘recipe’ that provides the maximal efficiency. Responsibilities The main responsibilities of the successful candidate will be:

  • Set up, carry out and interpret experiments with dispersions of simulant geopolymers, at various concentrations and particle sizes.
  • Test the resulting geopolymer membranes to assess the removal efficiency of contaminants (e.g. salts, heavy metals, ammonia, urea).
  • Suggest and contribute to the development of research techniques, models and methods in collaboration with colleagues.
  • Analyse and interpret the results of own research and generate ideas based on outcomes.
  • Disseminate research findings using appropriate and effective media such as publication, research seminars, etc.

Informal queries: Dr. Bahman Ghiassi (b.ghiassi@bham.ac.uk) Dr. Alessio Alexiadis (a.alexiadis@bham.ac.uk)

Applicants require a 2:1 or higher MEng Honours degree in Engineering, Physics or in a related subject area. Proven experience with experimental work is essential; previous work in membrane characterization and/or cementitious Materials would be an advantage.

References:
[1] Alexiadis A., Alberini F., Meyer M. E. (2017) Geopolymers from lunar and Martian soil simulants, Advances in Space Research 59: 490–495.

[2] Xu M., He Y., Wang C., He X., He X., Liu J, Cui X. (2015) Preparation and characterization of a self-supporting inorganic membrane based on metakaolin-based geopolymers, Applied Clay Science 115:254–259.

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