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Name of scholarship/program

Production of Biosurfactants using Alternative Carbon Sources



Important description
The transition to a low carbon, bio-based economy is dependent upon our ability to produce chemicals efficiently from microorganisms. The efficiency of production and the viability of the bioprocess as a whole is highly dependent on the primary carbon source used. There is a need to identify abundant carbon sources that can be utilised whilst minimising environmental impact and avoiding competition for arable land with food crops. Currently there is particular interest in the production of biosurfactants for use as replacements for surfactants derived from oil.

Biosurfactants are naturally occurring amphiphiles with a range of unique properties; including biodegradability and tolerance of a wide range of temperature and pH, making their use in a range of novel applications, such as environmental bioremediation, attractive. At present the utilisation of biosurfactants outside of high added value niche applications is hindered by a lack of economic production routes, with issues common to many bioprocesses being encountered; low upstream productivity and the subsequent need for costly downstream separation.

To address these issues this project will investigate the production of a range of biosurfactants, starting with Rhamnolipids, when non-standard substrates are utilised. The purpose of this study is to identify possible renewable and cheaper alternatives to glucose as a carbon source, with a view to developing enhanced fermentation processes, improving the economics of biosurfactant production by adding value to waste streams from other industrial processes.


Eligibility and other criteria
This research project has funding attached. Funding for this project is available to citizens of a number of European countries (including the UK). In most cases this will include all EU nationals. However full funding may not be available to all applicants and you should read the full department and project details for further information.


Application deadline
*31 July 2013


Additional information, and important URL
Candidates should have or expect to achieve at least a 2:1 MEng in Chemical Engineering or an MSc and BSc in Chemical Engineering or a related discipline, such as biotechnology. Knowledge and experience of microbiology laboratory techniques is desirable.

This position is fully funded for UK students, including tuition fees and a standard EPSRC stipend of £13,726. For EU students tuition fees only are covered.


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