The EPSRC Atoms to Products (A2P) CDT in Sustainable Chemistry is a four-year programme that will provide advanced training and education to students, to prepare for rewarding careers in academia, industry and related sectors. A major component of the training framework is the Integrated Industrial Challenge, which takes during Year 1 of the programme. Here, students will work as teams in one of four contemporary research themes (which are likely to change each year), supervised by several academic staff and industry scientists. The Integrated Industrial Challenge is designed to foster team working and collaboration on a cutting-edge, industry-relevant scientific problem within a multidisciplinary environment.
Year 1 activities will include:
• Taught courses in core and specialist subjects
• Interactions with industry scientists (possibly during short visits to companies)
• Significant laboratory-based or computational research on a group project
• Transferrable skills training
• Research and planning to support the development of individual PhD projects for Years 2-4
In Years 2-4, students will work on individual PhD projects, the topics of which may (but necessarily) arise naturally from the Year 1 activities. The expectation is that PhD projects will be multidisciplinary, with students continuing to benefit from supervision from two (or more) academics and an industrial scientist. Transferrable and specialist skills will continue in Years 2 and 4.
By the end of our CDT programme, students will not only be experts in a particular chemistry-related field, but will also have a deep understanding of a sustainability concepts. This training will be invaluable in a future scientific career.
The first year assessment involves the following stages:
- Literature Review
- Project Proposal
- Proposal Presentation
- Mini Research Project
- Project Report
- Project Viva
Research Themes for academic year 2019/20 are as follows:
Late Stage Functionalisation
Late stage functionalisation of complex molecules is increasingly important for producing compound libraries to search for optimal function, and can be faster and more efficient compared with more conventional synthetic approaches where diversification occurs at an early stage. This theme will develop new, state-of-the-art methods for late stage functionalisation.
Sustainable Gelators: Gelators are an important class of molecules that are used as additives to modify rheological performance in materials ranging from mechanical lubricants, film forming polymers and food. There is an urgent need to move away from petrochemical based additives, this activity will design and prepare sustainable routes to low molecular-mass organic gelators and performance modifiers for application in multiple industry settings.
AI Designed Catalysis
Catalytic formation of C-H, C-C and C-Heteratom bonds is the invisible engine that drives formation of the molecules our society needs. Classical catalyst optimisation requires thousands of uni-varient optimisations typically moderated by humans. Self-learning algorithms offer opportunities to identify unique patterns in such complex data allowing faster process optimisation.
Towards Circular Processing
There is a pressing need for society to increase the level of recycling of materials and chemical-based products. The development of industrial processes that embrace circular processing is critical to sustainable development and cleaner manufacturing. This theme will develop novel, highly efficient reactor technologies to deliver products in energy and atom efficient processes with the aim of 'keeping the molecules in play'