EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Sustainable Chemical Technologies

This project has received funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) Training Grant (grant reference EP/L016354/1).

 

The EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Sustainable Chemical Technologies was established in 2009. The CDT training programme is interdisciplinary in nature, bringing together science and engineering to carry out research in collaboration with the Centre’s industrial partners. This programme, which will run until 2023, divides its research outputs into four different themes:

  • Energy & Water
  • Renewable Feedstocks & Biotechnology
  • Processes & Manufacturing
  • Healthcare Technologies

The CDT is currently training over 50 PhD students and has graduated 7 cohorts of students.

The CDT’s themes and activities

Our four research themes

Click on the icon below to find out more about your chosen research theme.

Overview

Solar cells, fuel cells and batteries, sustainable water supply, water cycle & human health.

Sustainable clean energy and water management are among the most urgent global challenges, and pose fundamental scientific and engineering questions. We will address key research challenges that span the chemistry/chemical engineering interface, including: sustainable solar cells; energy storage and batteries; sustainable water supply; and water cycle and human health.

Major grants

Photocatalytic Anodic Metal Membranes for Micropollutant Removal

This project addresses the twin challenges that have so-far hindered the use of photocatalysis in water treatment: the potential leaching of photocatalytic slurries in the environment and the low efficiency of UV light illumination, which translates in low activity, for immobilised photocatalysts.

ReNEW – Developing Resilient Nations – Towards a Public Heath Early Warning System via Urban Water Profiling

An innovative solution to current problems with rapidly identifying and responding to deteriorating public health and environmental conditions in fast developing urban environments in LMIC countries, aiming to manage risks to public and environmental health relating to urbanisation, population growth, lack of infrastructure and the overarching challenge of climate change. We will establish a cutting-edge, interdisciplinary research capability, based on engineering and digital technology approaches, for real-time community-wide diagnostics and tuneable multi-hazard public health early warning system (EWS) with the ultimate goal of strengthening communities’ resilience.

Energy Materials: Computational Solutions

Our vision is to develop and apply predictive techniques for modelling the atomic level operation of energy materials. We will enable the development of new materials for the next generations of energy devices, causing a step change in the performance of solar cells, lithium-ion batteries, solid oxide fuel cells and thermoelectric devices.

H2FCSupergen — The Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Research Hub

H2FC Supergen logoH2FC (Hydrogen and Fuel Cells) is the first connected, inclusive research infrastructure in the UK that will span the entire Hydrogen and Fuel Cell landscape. Although the initiative is UK-based we have strong international links. We utlise networks, knowledge exchange and stakeholder (including outreach) engagement, community building, and education, training and continuous professional development.

SEWPROF ITN — A new paradigm in drug use and human health risk assessment: Sewage profiling at the community level

SEWPROF aims to develop inter-disciplinary and cross-sectoral research capability for the next generation of scientists working in the newly-emerging field of sewage epidemiology. It will provide an integrated approach towards public health monitoring at a community level based on innovative sewage epidemiology techniques.

SPECIFIC — Sustainable Product Engineering Centre for Innovative Functional Industrial Coatings

SPECIFIC, an academic and industrial consortium led by Swansea University with Tata Steel as the main industrial partner, is funded by EPSRC, Technology Strategy Board and the Welsh Government. The shared vision is to develop functional coated steel and glass products for roofs and walls that generate, store and release renewable energy – transforming buildings into power stations and delivering significant environmental and economic benefits.

SUPERGEN Energy Storage Hub

Energy storage is more important today than at any time in human history. It has a vital role to play in storing electricity from renewable sources (wind, wave, solar) and is key to the electrification of transport. However, current energy storage technologies are not fit for purpose. This consortium brings together investigators with strong international and national reputations in energy storage research and spanning the entire value chain from the energy storage technologies themselves, through manufacturing, integration, and evaluation of the whole system in which the energy storage would be embedded.

SUPERSOLAR Solar Energy Hub

The Supergen Solar Hub is an exciting 5 year project that will see the creation of the UK’s first standards lab for solar cells, a research programme that aims to improve the efficiency of next generation photovoltaic devices. We also intend to set up a training programme for the Photovoltaic research sector and the formation of an inclusive solar community that links research carried out in universities and industry.

Overview

Environmental, economic and political pressures demand the development of novel routes to fuels and chemicals from renewable feedstocks to replace current fossil fuel based processes.

Economic viability often depends on process integration into the existing manufacturing infrastructure, requiring a significant level of interdisciplinary understanding.

Major grants

 

BIOBEADS – Advanced Manufacturing for Sustainable Biodegradable Microbeads

This project will develop, in combination, new manufacturing routes to new products. Manufacturing will be based on a low-energy process that can be readily scaled up, or down, and the products will be biodegradable microbeads, microscapsules and microsponges, which share the performance characteristics of existing plastic microsphere products, but which will leave no lasting environmental trace. Using bio-based materials such as cellulose (from plants) and chitin (from crab or prawn shells), we will use continuous manufacturing methods to generate microspheres, hollow capsules and porous particles to replace the plastic microbeads currently in use in many applications.

Transatlantic discovery, characterization and application of enzymes for the recycling of polymers and composites

This Global Innovation Initiative (GII) project provides a vehicle for developing collaborative research using the strengths of all three partners (University of Bath, Ohio State University and University of São Paulo) and for building research capacity, by developing a mobile cohort of young researchers who are able to work on multi-disciplinary solutions to global challenges.

Bio-derived Feedstocks for Sustainable, UK-Based Manufacture of Chemicals and Pharmaceutical Intermediates

This project aims to establish a range of new technologies to enable the synthesis of a range of chemicals from sugar beet pulp (SBP) in a cost-effective and sustainable manner. The UK is self-sufficient in the production of SBP which is a by-product of sugar beet production (8 million tonnes grown per year) and processing. Currently SBP is dried in an energy intensive process and then used for animal feed. The ability to convert SBP into chemicals and pharmaceutical intermediates will therefore have significant economic and environmental benefits.

CLEVER: Closed Loop Emotionally Valuable E-waste Recovery

Our vision is to enable a move away from the ‘throw-away’ society towards a new paradigm of durability, quality, user engagement with products, and zero-waste; specifically, to close the loop on recycling of consumer electronics and to facilitate recovery of valuable metals.

Fractionation and exploitation of the component value of DDGS

Distiller’s dried grain and solubles (DDGS) is made by separating the residue of the wheat grain from wheat-based bioethanol plants, post-fermentation (distillers grain) with a “solubles” syrup created by concentration of the “thin stillage” recovered post-distillation. The project’s ultimate aim is to extract fat/oil using supercritical CO2, use the distillers grain in a second fermentation by hydrolysis and microbial metabolism of the non-starch carbohydrates and use some of the protein in biocatalytic upgrading to defined chemical products. In the first stage of the project, where we will be developing methods to extract fat/oil, release and hydrolyse the carbohydrate and selectively metabolise certain protein components, we will benchmark the suitability of the methods by the level of retention of the animal feed value of the residue. In the second part of the programme we will develop new metabolically versatile bacterial strains able to degrade most of the non-starch carbohydrate and convert it to 1-butanol, and selective proteolytic and tandem biocatalytic methods to convert part of the protein to value-added chemical products.

Nano-Integration of Metal-Organic Frameworks and Catalysis for the Uptake and Utilisation of CO2

Nano-scale-integration of CO2 uptake and utilisation processes will provide new highly efficient single-step processes to turn CO2 into useful products (polymers, carbohydrates and fuels). Metal Organic Frameworks (MOFs) have emerged as a front-runner in the uptake and storage of CO2. Effective catalysts for the conversion of CO2 into useful chemical products have already been discovered but industrial CO2 waste streams with high CO2 concentrations are used.

In this project these two areas of existing strength are combined to provide new nano-structured functional catalyst membranes tailored to both capture and concentrate CO2 from the free atmosphere and convert CO2 into useful products in a single continuous process.

Terpene-based Manufacturing for Sustainable Chemical Feedstocks

We will develop a sustainable and integrated platform for the manufacture of industrial chemicals based on biological terpenoid feedstocks to complement the carbohydrate, oil and lignin-based feedstocks that will be available to sustainable chemistry-using industries of the future.

Overview

Achieving sustainable economic development via chemical technologies is a multi-faceted challenge that requires an integrated response.

By adopting a whole systems approach, we combine fundamental chemistry with engineering optimization. Projects in the Processes and Manufacturing theme draw on the cross-functional expertise available in Bath to combine leading-edge technological insight with analyses of total supply chain and whole life cycle impact, in collaboration with industrial and international partners.

Major grants

BIOBEADS – Advanced Manufacturing for Sustainable Biodegradable Microbeads

This project will develop, in combination, new manufacturing routes to new products. Manufacturing will be based on a low-energy process that can be readily scaled up, or down, and the products will be biodegradable microbeads, microscapsules and microsponges, which share the performance characteristics of existing plastic microsphere products, but which will leave no lasting environmental trace. Using bio-based materials such as cellulose (from plants) and chitin (from crab or prawn shells), we will use continuous manufacturing methods to generate microspheres, hollow capsules and porous particles to replace the plastic microbeads currently in use in many applications.

Integrated energy efficient microwave and unique fermentation processes for pilot scale production of high value chemicals from lignocellulosic waste

To meet key climate change targets, while providing sustainable economic growth, the UK must develop a robust bioeconomy. This requires the valorisation of UK-specific and abundant waste lignocelluosic streams. This project aims to develop a pilot scale multi-product biorefinery by coupling breakthroughs in low energy biomass treatment and unique fermentation to produce marketable compounds.

Terpene-based Manufacturing for Sustainable Chemical Feedstocks

Our aim is to develop a sustainable, integrated platform for manufacture of industrial chemicals based on biological terpenoid feedstocks to complement carbohydrate, oil and lignin-based feedstocks that will be available to sustainable chemistry-using industries of the future. Our focus will include production of aromatics and amines which are particularly challenging targets from other biofeedstocks.

Total Recovery of All Platinum Group Metals (TRAP)

Platinum group metals (PGMs) are widely used as catalysts in the production of chemicals that enhance quality of life: pharmaceutical & cosmetic products, coatings, energy-efficient lubricants, adhesives, food cling wraps and phthalate-free plasticisers, to name just a few examples. However, the UK has no viable reserves of PGMS, so it is critical that we recover the metals both for their value (for example, rhodium, Rh, to be recovered in this project, sells for >$1100 per troy ounce!) and to ensure materials security. Total Recovery of All Platinum group metals (TRAP) is a project focussed on developing a technology package integrating both new materials and low-energy engineering processes using membranes to capture Rh from waste streams in production of large volume chemicals. To achieve this, a UK SME with expertise in metals capture, Phosphonics, will work with academic partners at the University of Bath and a large waste management company, Veolia. Recovery of metals like Rh will recover value from waste, enhance the UK’s movement towards the circular economy and ensure that we can continue to manufacture the products that we need, while reducing global C-footprint.

UK Catalysis Hub

Catalysis is a core area of contemporary science posing major fundamental and conceptual challenges, while being at the heart of the chemical industry – an immensely successful and important part of the overall UK economy (generating in excess of £50 billion per annum). UK catalytic science currently has a strong presence, but there is intense competition in both academic and industrial sectors, and a need for UK industrial activity to shift towards new innovative areas posing major challenges for the future. In light of these challenges the UK Catalysis Hub endeavours to become a leading institution, both nationally and internationally, in the field and acts to coordinate, promote and advance the UK catalysis research portfolio (UK Catalysis Hub project criteria).

Professor Matthew Davidson of the CSCT leads the “Catalysis for Chemical Transformations” theme of the UK Catalysis Hub.

Factory in a Fumehood: Reagentless Flow Reactors as Enabling Techniques for Manufacture

Why reagentless? In traditional chemical processes once a reagent has performed its task it needs to be removed from the product stream. Unless the spent reagent can be reactivated then the waste stream must be dealt with. Most processes require large amounts of reagent, placing a heavy financial and environmental burden on manufacturing of high value products such as pharmaceuticals.

Spinning Mesh Disc Reactors

This project will develop a new paradigm in spinning disc process intensification technology: the spinning mesh disc reactor (SMDR). The SMDR uses a high surface area rotating mesh supporting a catalyst to create process intensification. A liquid is centrifugally forced and accelerated into the mesh creating rapid mixing and increased heat and mass transfer rates compared to conventional reactors, accelerating reaction rates.

Overview

Well-being is a vital technical and societal component of sustainability, and chemical technologies associated with healthcare and well-being pose interesting problems.

Specifically, key challenges include: the generation of new synthetic methodology for the preparation of a range of pharmaceuticals by clean catalytic/biocatalytic chemistry coupled with sustainable processing; the design and development of methods for rapid sensing in hospital environments; and devices for the detection of in vivo infection and delivery of nanomedicines.

Major grants

ReNEW – Developing Resilient Nations – Towards a Public Heath Early Warning System via Urban Water Profiling

An innovative solution to current problems with rapidly identifying and responding to deteriorating public health and environmental conditions in fast developing urban environments in LMIC countries, aiming to manage risks to public and environmental health relating to urbanisation, population growth, lack of infrastructure and the overarching challenge of climate change. We will establish a cutting-edge, interdisciplinary research capability, based on engineering and digital technology approaches, for real-time community-wide diagnostics and tuneable multi-hazard public health early warning system (EWS) with the ultimate goal of strengthening communities’ resilience.

Bacteriosafe — Development of a wound dressing to detect pathogenic bacteria

The aim of the BacterioSafe consortium is to construct, test and develop a unique active wound dressing, which incorporates novel colourimetric sensor and active therapeutic processes for detecting and counteracting pathogenic bacteria in wounds. The initial focus will be burn wounds, but the application to other types of wounds is intended. The inspiration of this project is the natural nono-biological mechanism of bacterial attack of healthy cells.

Fluorescence Lifetime Imaging of New Functional Biomaterials for Non Invasive Early Tumour Diagnosis

Early diagnosis and treatment of cancer prior to metastasis has a significant impact on patient survival. This project will demonstrate novel luminescent optical imaging agents that could lead to safe, extremely accurate, non-invasive and affordable early diagnostics of cancers which are difficult to access non-invasively due to limited light penetration through tissues such as the alimentary tract.

Encapsulated phage for treatment of burns and wound site infections

One of the primary problems in the treatment of burns is bacterial infection, which can delay healing, increase pain; increase the risk of scarring and in some cases cause death. In recent years there have been great improvements in the treatment of burns, but the problem of infection has not gone away. This project, in partnership with Biocontrol Ltd and the departments of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at the University of Bath, will encapsulate specific lytic phages within phospholipid vesicles, and incorporate the vesicles into a prototype burn / wound dressing and a topical aqueous cream.