Training a New generation of Researchers in Offshore Seaweed Aquaculture to Produce High-value Chemicals - SeaChem

DC7 position is taken by Roberto Garcia Peran.

Project Title: Microwave- and ultrasound-assisted extraction methods for the recovery of valuable components from brown seaweed species (WP3)

Host Institution: KU Leuven

Country: Belgium

Supervisor: Prof. Raf Dewil (PhD promoter, KU Leuven)

Objectives: To develop ultrasound- and microwave-assisted extraction methods (UAE and MAE) to recover a range of valuable components from seaweed.

DC7 will employ UAE and MAE as promising environmental-friendly intensification techniques to limit chemical, water and energy usage. DC7 will evaluate cell disruption effectiveness of ultrasonic treatment and efficient heating via microwaves. DC7 will investigate conditions that are especially interesting for thermally unstable molecules (e.g. polysaccharides) that would degrade in classical hot water extraction systems applied in current seaweed extraction methodologies. DC7 will investigate microwave-specific effects due to the activation of molecules acting as molecular radiators that may weaken or break cell walls. DC7 will optimize the MAE and UAE (reaction time, temperature, energy and chemical consumption), whereby the gel strength, viscosity and yield of the extracted polysaccharides will be assessed.

Expected Results: Novel intensified extraction methods of industrially-important brown seaweed derived products.

Enrolment in Doctoral degree(s): KU Leuven, Arenberg Doctoral School of Science, Engineering and Technology

Planned secondments:

Host: BMRS, Supervisor: Julie Maguire, Timing: M18-21, Length: 3 months, Purpose: scale-up of the lab-scaled developed microwave- and ultrasound assisted processes.

Host: PurAl, Supervisor: Esben Christiansen, Timing: M30-33, Length: 3 months, Purpose: training on various seaweed cultivation techniques and how to optimise the design parameters and operational conditions to enhance biomass yields in a cost-effective way.

Candidate requirements:

  • You hold a master’s degree in chemical engineering or a related field and you thrive in a multidisciplinary research environment.
  • You have a solid knowledge of chemical conversion and separation processes.
  • You are ambitious, well organized and have excellent communication skills.
  • You speak and write fluent English and have the ability to work effectively and collaboratively.
  • You are an enthusiastic and motivated person, ready to participate in personal training, international travel and public awareness activities.
  • You have demonstrated your commitment to high quality research.

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