PHD PROJECT - RECOVER, RECYCLE, REENGINEER: A MICROBIAL AND BIOTECHNOLOGICAL SOLUTION TO TACKLE THE WASTE TYRE PROBLEM

Heriot Watt University is seeking applicants for a 4-year funded BBSRC IBioIC CTP industrial PhD studentship, starting 14 September 2020.

Used rubber tyres, particularly when disposed to landfill, have been recognised to fast becoming one of the foremost environmental waste problems in the world. The recycling of rubber is a very challenging task and to date there is no solution to this increasingly important problem. The industrial partner Recircle Ltd has developed a novel sustainable technology to devulcanise and reuse rubber waste for reprocessing into high value rubber products using microorganisms. The devulcanisation/desulfurisation of rubber relies on the work of enzymes which are not fully identified yet.

This PhD project will investigate the key processes involved in biodesulfurisation of rubber. The PhD student will be trained in cutting-edge techniques to analyse and identify all genes and enzymes that are responsible for biodesulfurisation in order to get a better understanding and further improve the devulcanisation process. This project will also aim to enrich and isolate new desulfurising bacteria from tyre dump sites and mine for novel genes in the degradation of organosulfur compounds. In addition, the student will utilise site-directed mutagenesis to create mutant strains of the bacteria that constitutively express these desulfurisation enzymes.

The student will join a vibrant laboratory working on a variety of aspects of microbiology. The student will be based at the Lyell Centre at Heriot-Watt University and receive further training from industrial partner Recircle Ltd. This exciting collaboration will provide the student with excellent training and highly valuable experiences. The combination of skills and facilities will prove a very strong asset for their training and enhance the student’s future career prospects.

This PhD studentship is part of the IBioIC CTP programme, providing further training and cohort opportunities.

Visit the Heriot Watt University website for more information and to apply.