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School of Physical and Chemical Sciences

Plastic waste upcycling using microwave-initiated heterogeneous catalysis

Research Group: Chemistry
Number of Students: 1
Length of Study in Years: 3 Years
Full-time Project: yes


  • Available to home and overseas applicants.
  • Applicant required to start in September 2024.
  • The studentship arrangement will cover home tuition fees and provide an annual stipend for up to three years (Currently set for 2023/24 as £20,622).
  • International students note that this studentship only covers home tuition fees and students will need to cover the difference in fees between the home and overseas basic rate from external sources. 

Project Description

Recent successes in microwave clean chemistry have opened new, efficient routes for low-temperature hydrogen production, decarbonisation, and plastic waste upcycling. This PhD research project aims to develop effective microwave catalysts and optimise process parameters for the selective recovery of monomers and value-added chemicals from various plastic waste types and their mixtures. Microwave presence can alter chemical equilibrium, making its effects on different materials and reactants more accessible. Previous research within the group demonstrated a Fe-based catalyst for converting plastic polymers into high-purity hydrogen and carbon nanotubes, with over 97% theoretical hydrogen mass extracted. The study will also investigate the use of ionic liquids (ILs) as catalysts or solvents for controlled depolymerisation, with a particular focus on waste PVC and the customisation of conditions to enhance monomer/ chemicals recovery. The PhD student will also have an opportunity to work with microwave engineers, industry partners and entrepreneurs, and to be trained on an interdisciplinary basis.




  • The minimum requirement for this studentship opportunity is a good Honours degree (minimum 2(i) honours or equivalent) or MSc/MRes in a relevant discipline.
  • If English is not your first language you will require a valid English certificate equivalent to IELTS 6.5+ overall with a minimum score of 6.0 in Writing and 5.5 in all sections (Reading, Listening, Speaking).

Application Method:

To apply for this studentship and for entry on to the Chemistry programme (Full Time) please follow the instructions detailed on the following webpage:

Supervisor Contact Details:

For informal enquiries about this position, please contact Dr Michael Jie


Deadline for applications: 31st of January 2024

SPCS Academics: Dr Michael Jie