M2A

Novel flame-retardant materials based on microporous polymers.

Key Information
Supervisors: Prof O Guy, Dr M Carta and Ms J Lloyd. 
 
Expected Interview Date: Week commencing 17th June 2019.
 
Since the tragic events of the Grenfell Tower fire in London 2017, the preparation of novel flame-retardant materials that can improve the fire safety standards in public and private buildings is a major priority for the construction industry and its suppliers.
 
In this project, we propose the synthesis and characterisation of novel flame-retardant materials to be used as additives in polyurethane foams. The proposed materials will be based on porous polymers, which typically have high decomposition temperatures (i.e., are very stable towards thermal decomposition once burned).
 
Polymers of intrinsic microporosity (PIMs) are an emerging class of materials. Their porosity arises by the inefficient packing of their chains on the solid state, which leaves voids in nano-dimensions.
They can be used for a wide range of applications including gas separation, gas storage, electrochemistry and catalysis. In this context, the most important characteristics of PIMs is their exceptional stability towards thermal decomposition / degradation. The nature of these polymers makes them excellent candidates as additives to be mixed with polyurethane foams, which are the most typical materials for insultation panels in public and private buildings.  
 
Typical additives to be used for this scope need to be highly stable, having high decomposition temperatures and low char yields, to make them more mechanically stable after burning. The newest kind of materials for optimised performance include additives in the polymer backbone such as:

Boron and its derivatives
High amounts of Phosphorus
High amounts of Nitrogen
High amounts of Carbon
A combination of two or more of the previous
 
This project, supported by TATA Steel, will focus on the design and synthesis of new precursors, monomers and polymers containing different amounts of these light elements, testing how they influence the properties and the performance of the final materials. The structure and geometry of the monomers will be designed to induce high porosity, producing a combination of the beneficial effects of the inherent thermal stability (given by the included elements) and the intrinsic porosity of the backbone (given by the structure design).
 
The Research Engineer will:
Develop skills in organic synthesis and characterisation of monomers and polymers of intrinsic micro-porosity, aiming to better understand how to exploit the PIMs chemistry to tune their properties as flame-retardant materials. 
 
Our industrial partner TATA Steel is a global leader in the manufacture of steel for markets including construction, infrastructure, automotive, packaging and engineering. It’s Building Systems division has extensive foam insulating panel manufacturing capabilities throughout Europe. The steel faced insulated panel market I the UK alone is worth over £200 million pounds per annum, hence the interest in making novel and better performing materials for building applications. 
 
Swansea University is a top 30 UK institution for research excellence (Research Excellence Framework 2014) and has been named Welsh University of the Year 2017 by The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide.
 
The Materials and Manufacturing Academy (M2A) in the College of Engineering is a Swansea University initiative which provides postgraduate research training in partnership with industry; providing access to world-class laboratories and a wealth of academic and industry expertise. The M2A is committed to delivering high quality collaborative research opportunities within an inclusive environment, funded by the Welsh European Funding Office (WEFO), the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), Swansea University and Industry partners.
 
Interwoven through the research study are business, technical and entrepreneurial courses, designed to support and prepare participants for a senior role in industry or academia, on completion of their studies. Research Engineers may participate in our career mentoring system, offering opportunities to engage with M2A alumni and other senior staff from across the University.
 
The Athena SWAN charter recognises work undertaken by institutions to advance gender equality. The College of Engineering is an Athena SWAN bronze award holder and is committee to addressing unequal gender representation.
 
 
Sponsoring Company TATA Steel - Building Systems
Company Website Eligibility

We welcome applications from candidates with an Engineering or Physical Science degree (minimum level 2:1), or a combination of degree and equivalent relevant experience to the same level to join the M2A community of research engineers.

To be eligible for WEFO funding, applicants should:
 
Be a UK or EU citizen (eligible for home tuition fees at Swansea University) and have the right to work in Wales at the end of their studies.
Be resident within West Wales and the Valleys at the time of enrolment and for the duration of the candidature.
Must not be financially able to participate in study for a postgraduate research degree without the award of this funding.
 
To be eligible for EPSRC funding, applicants should:
 
Be eligible for home tuition fees at Swansea University.
Have settled status in the UK, meaning no restrictions on the length of stay in the UK; and be ‘ordinarily resident’ in the UK for 3 years prior to the start of the grant, apart from temporary or occasional absences.
Not have been residing in the UK wholly or mainly for the purpose of full-time education. This does not apply to UK nationals and EU nationals who were ordinarily resident in the EU immediately before the period of full-time education.
Funding

Full fees at Home/EU rate for a period of four academic years.
Maintenance stipend at £20K per annum for a period of four years.

Closing Date 27 May 2019

Start Date October 2019


Apply Now

Informal enquiries about this studentship are welcome and may be directed by email to: M2A@swansea.ac.uk