PhD project: From microalgae to biobased materials

[EU, UK] The Renewable Materials and NanoTechnology (RMNT) research group carries out both fundamental and applied research in the development of (nano)materials Our interdisciplinary research combines and applies knowledge from the molecular level (chemistry), over processing (chemical engineering) to characterisation of the obtained materials (materials science) with constant feedback between the different levels.

As this is a collaborative project between two research groups, you will become a member of the Renewable Materials and Nanotechnology research group and of the Aquatic Biology Laboratory.

The RMNT group is headed by Prof. Thielemans and currently comprises of 5 Master’s students, 6 PhD students and 3 postdoctoral researchers (6 different nationalities). Established in 2013 when Prof. Thielemans moved from the University of Nottingham (UK) to KU Leuven, our group is still in full growth. We have access to state of the art labs and have a variety of characterisation techniques in our group including elemental analysis, XPS spectroscopy, small angle and wide angle X-ray scattering (being purchased), titration calorimetry, light scattering, and thermogravimetric analysis. We also have access to other equipment at KU Leuven through collaborations such as transmission and scanning electron microscopy, atomic force microscopy and confocal microscopy.

The laboratory Aquatic Biology carries out fundamental and applied research into aquatic microorganisms. We study host-parasite co-evolution in Daphnia and its microparasites, and currently focus .

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This PhD project forms forms part of the large ALPO project undertaken by an interdisciplinary consortium combining academic institutions (KU Leuven, University of Gent, University of Mons, University of Reims Champagne-Ardenne, University of Lille 1) and institutional partners (Aquimer, GreenWin, PCGroenteteelt, Pôle IAR, POM West-Vlaanderen). This consortium will carry out a wide variety of research aimed at developing microalgae as a technology platform for biobased materials.

This specific PhD project will focus on the effective harvesting of microalgae and the extraction and use of the polysaccharides (polymeric sugars) found in the microalgae. We have recently developed nanocrystalline cellulose as a very effective flocculating agent for microalgae. By using the cellulose extracted from the algae themselves, we will close the loop. This process will require significant optimization and offers a large scope for exploration of nanoparticle-microalgae interactions, surface chemistry, and process engineering.


View original article at: Korean researchers find a way to turn seaweeds into hydrogen

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