Biopolymers for packaging and membrane applications

Membrane-based separation of gaseous mixtures is recognised as a low-energy and low-carbon alternative to traditional separation techniques. Knowledge of transport behaviour of different gases and liquids in new materials is of great importance for membrane separation processes, including the packaging industry.
As end-of-life becomes of great importance in membrane separation field, the possibility to replace synthetic polymers with bio-based and biodegradable materials becomes the necessity.

While different techniques to obtain natural materials with desired properties are being developed, testing of such materials becomes essential in order to establish structure-property relationship and to inform future design.

Tailored experimental testing and Computational approaches that can provide structure-property relationships in a fast way need to be considered to reduce the time-to-market of biopolymers.

The aim of this project is to evaluate the replacement of current fossil fuel based plastics with bio based ones in sectors such as packaging and membrane separations. Materials considered include polyhydroxyalkanoates obtained by bacterial fermentation, polysaccharides, polycaprolactone etc., and their blends.

The project will involve and combine synergistically the experimental approach with the computational one, i.e. Molecular Dynamics (MD) to gain insight into the microscopic structure and dynamics of such materials, The computational screening of such systems allows to identify the most promising candidate for a specific application, thus reducing the experimental effort and informing future experimental campaigns.

The student will work in an on-going project involving experimental and computational investigation, teaming up with PGR students of the SusProM Sustainable Process: Materials and Modeling Group led by Grazia De Angelis and with Industrial and Academic partners.

The student will attend to all the Seminar organized by the Institute and attend National and international Conference to present the results.

In particular, the student will:

  • Become familiar with all the aspects of membrane fabrication via solvent casting
  • Gain experience on the different experimental methodologies to analyze the fluid transport and barrier properties in polymeric materials and their analysis
  • Get valuable skills on open-source, widely used and versatile environment for molecular simulation of materials
  • Become skilled in membrane separation processes and design

Gain confidence in academic writing and public presentations

Further Information: 

https://www.eng.ed.ac.uk/about/people/prof-maria-grazia-de-angelis

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0376738822005920

https://www.suspromgroup.eng.ed.ac.uk/

The University of Edinburgh is committed to equality of opportunity for all its staff and students, and promotes a culture of inclusivity. Please see details here: https://www.ed.ac.uk/equality-diversity

Closing Date: 

Sunday, March 31, 2024

Principal Supervisor: 

Eligibility: 

Minimum entry qualification - an Honours degree at 2:1 or above (or International equivalent) in a relevant science or engineering discipline, possibly supported by an MSc Degree.

Further information on English language requirements for EU/Overseas applicants.

Funding: 

Applications are welcomed from self-funded students, or students who are applying for scholarships from the University of Edinburgh or elsewhere (e.g. China Scholarship Council, EPSRC DTP Scholarships, Edinburgh Doctoral College Scholarships, Carnegie Scholarship)

Further information and other funding options.

Informal Enquiries: