PhD Research Studentship Foaming of biopolymers for thermal packaging applications


This PhD research project is funded by RCUK Centre for Sustainable Energy Use in Food Chains at Brunel University and Hydropac Ltd. – an industrial consortium member of the Centre.

Increasing direct internet food sale makes temperature integrity and product quality increasingly important and poses increasing challenges in thermal packaging of the shipping solutions. More stringent environmental legislations also calls for bio-based and/or biodegradable lightweight packaging materials and increase reuse and recycling of packaging waste. Currently however, thermal packaging materials are dominated by plastic foams and due to short service life and difficulty to recycle, has caused serious problems in the municipal waste management systems. Biopolymer foams or Bio-foams have been demonstrated to have adequate thermal insulation properties comparable to plastic foams and are suitable for thermal packaging applications. The key challenge is the lack of technology to produce bio-foams that are a) in continuous form as thermal barriers for direct thermal packaging applications; b) high expansion and light-weight and c) coupled with good mechanical properties (e.g. strength, rigidity and flexibility) d) low cost to be commercially viable in the cost sensitive food shipment sector. The project aims at developing extrusion foaming technology for manufacturing low cost bio-foams for thermal packaging of chilled foods & drink and pharmaceutical products. 

The student will be jointly appointed and financed by Brunel and Hydropac Ltd and registered in Wolfson Centre for Material Processing at Brunel University. Applicants should have or expect to obtain the first class or 2.1 equivalent undergraduate degree in materials science & engineering, Chemical or Manufacturing engineering and should have excelled in previous study of materials, particularly in polymers and processing. A postgraduate degree in biopolymers/biomaterials/green chemistry areas is also desirable, but not essential. Due to funding, applicants should ideally be UK or EU citizens who have been resident in the UK for the three years preceding the date of application but overseas candidate will also be considered subject to separate financial arrangements    

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To apply, please send CV and transcript of university study with a covering letter specifying your research experience and area of interest and two referees to Professor Jim Song at Brunel University ( Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted for interview after the closing date: 1st October 2013.

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