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PhD Scholarship Opportunity

Location: Clayton campus, Monash University

Employment Type: Full time

Duration: 3-year fixed-term appointment

Remuneration: Monash Graduate Scholarship stipend rates apply $29,000 per year (tax-free). https://www.monash.edu/graduate-research/future-students/scholarships/stipend

The Opportunity - transform the Australian Bioresource Industry!

Are you ready to be part of a team of passionate, innovative and progressive researchers, academics and industry partners to transform the Australian Bioresource Industry?

We have 11 fully-funded PhD positions available at Monash University’s leading Bioresource Processing Research Institute of Australia – BioPRIA.  As part of the second cohort of the industry-focused ARC Industry Transformation Research Hub for Processing Advanced Lignocellulosics (ITRH-PALS) you will develop functional materials and high value sustainable biomass-based products with the potential to displace existing technologies and transform the manufacturing industry.

About us

PALS is an industry-focused ARC research transformation Hub which aims to convert renewable biomass and waste streams from the Australian Pulp, Paper and Forestry Industry into high-value products in existing and developing markets. PALS will leverage world-leading Australian and international research capabilities in chemistry, materials science, and chemical engineering to create bio-based materials and chemicals leading to new companies and jobs in an emerging Australian bio-economy.

This research will identify new applications and products derived from lignocellulose and will feed the pharmaceutical, chemicals, plastics and food packaging industries. PALS PhD candidates will benefit from interdisciplinary research, and develop professional skills and networks with Universities and industry.

PhD projects:

  1. NSSC/Kraft Lignin as building block for value chemicals and polymers
  2. Engineering paper and cellulosic materials for biomedical applications
  3. Lignocellulosic fibres for sustainable agriculture
  4. Processing recycled fibres into high-value products
  5. Functional paper packaging (2 projects)
  6. Paper as a performant construction material
  7. New functional molecules from lignocellulose for advanced applications
  8. Hemicellulose as a chemical intermediate
  9. Engineering nano/micro-cellulose fibre and production processes
  10. Surface engineering of nanocellulose and nanoparticles for applications

For more information about BioPRIA and PALS research hub please refer to the following link: http://www.biopria.com.au/

Applicants must fulfil the criteria for PhD admission at Monash University and demonstrate excellent research capability https://www.monash.edu/graduate-research/future-students/apply​

To submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) application, please submit the following document as a single PDF to janette.anthony@monash.edu

  • Cover letter including a brief statement of up to two (2) project preference(s) and your suitability
  • Curriculum vitae (CV)
  • Full statement of academic record, supported by scanned copies of certified documentation
  • Evidence of English language proficiency (international applicants only) such as TOEFL or IELTS
  • Contact details of two academic referees
Project Descriptions

Project 1: NSSC/Kraft Lignin as building block for value chemicals and polymers

Main supervisor: Antonio Patti

https://research.monash.edu/en/persons/antonio-patti

This project aims to transform pulp lignin into valuable chemical intermediates and polymers. Lignin will be recovered from model and industrial pulping liquor and selectively processed into well-defined monomers using robust and scalable chemistry and technology solutions. Lignin-derived molecules will be characterized and explored to determine their potential for strategic chemical transformation into value chemical intermediate or product. Applications of interest include: paper coating, phenolic replacements for adhesive, and agriculture aids.

Project 2: Engineering paper and cellulosic materials for biomedical applications

Main supervisor: Gil Garnier

https://research.monash.edu/en/persons/gil-garnier

This project aims to develop cellulose-based performant and cost-effective medical and biomedical devices and products. Laminate and coated paper materials will be developed for biomedical application products including surgery gowns and sterile drape sheets. Cellulosic gels will be developed for biomedical applications including organoids growth, cell culture and bio-diagnostics. Nanocellulose and hemicellulose oligomers may also be investigated in conjunction with the paper and gel materials to develop advanced solutions to key challenges in the biomedical industry.

Project 3: Lignocellulosic fibres for sustainable agriculture

Main supervisor: Gil Garnier

https://research.monash.edu/en/persons/gil-garnier

This project aims to develop circular economy solutions to produce performant and cost effective agricultural solutions using recovered biomass, wood residue and fibre. Challenges on a global scale with significant and expending markets (over 100T/D) that address the changing needs of Australia will be targeted. Example applications include the use of lignocellulosic materials, bio-polymers (cellulose, lignin), wood fibres, and forest residues as soil hydro-retentor, controlled release fertilizer substrates, and intelligent mulch for weed control. These solutions will offer improved biodegradability and improved water and fertilizer uptake or release, optimizing action of fertilizers and the micro-organism cycle.

Project 4: Processing recycled fibres into high value products

Main Supervisor: Joanne Tanner

https://research.monash.edu/en/persons/joanne-tanner

This project aims to recover and reuse cellulose fibres that are below the required quality for paper production. Applications may include novel concrete composites for the construction industry, blending with various clay and natural polymer materials to produce a green plaster-board substitute and use as a raw material for the production of micro-fibrillated cellulose (MFC). MFC will subsequently be investigated for its potential for integration into paper products to improve strength while maintaining industrially acceptable sheet drainage times and preserving re-pulpability and recyclability.

Project 5: Functional paper packaging (2 students)

Main supervisor: Warren Batchelor

https://research.monash.edu/en/persons/warren-batchelor

This project aims to produce high performance packaging materials and functional barriers from cellulose fibre to replace current synthetic polymer and plastic layers and barriers in used in current paper packaging solutions to provide air and moisture barriers. Laminate paper for intelligent packaging will be created to control ripening and maturation of food (cheese, meat, fruits). Selective coating barriers (air, O2, water vapour, water, blood, oil/fat) will be investigated for application on paper packaging products. Wax will be explored as a recyclable coating or additive that provides waterproofing properties to a corrugated paper board structure. Replacement of mineral oils used as barrier additives in recycled papers. Developing fibre-based packaging solutions for high humidity performance while maintaining mechanical integrity.

Project 6: Paper as a performant construction materials

Main supervisor: Gil Garnier

https://research.monash.edu/en/persons/gil-garnier

This project aims to develop paper materials with competitive insulation properties for noise, heat, fire and electricity for application as construction materials. Structured paper and nano- or micro-fibre applications will be explored for heat insulation and noise dampening. Mechanically strong and water resistant paper and board materials will be developed for panelling applications. The wet and dry strength relationships for various MFC and NFC materials will also be investigated.

Project 7: New functional molecules from lignocellulose for advanced applications

Main Supervisor: Kei Saito

https://research.monash.edu/en/persons/kei-saito

This project aims to investigate new functional molecules and explore emerging technologies for the transformation and upgrading of lignocellulose-derived molecules. UV curable and depolymerized monomer reaction schemes with a basis in lignin chemistry will be investigated for self-healing and other advanced coating applications. Functional chemicals and materials will be developed by applying a combination of enzymatic and other green reaction methods to lignin, hemicellulose and cellulose components of lignocellulosic biomass. Lignin from industrial pulping liquor will also be used as a starting material to investigate its potential for recovery of hemicellulose, nanocellulose fibres and gel-forming compounds.

Project 8: Hemicellulose as a chemical intermediate

Main supervisor: Joanne Tanner

https://research.monash.edu/en/persons/joanne-tanner

This project aims to extract, characterize, fractionate and process hemicellulose from Australian lignocellulosic biomass (pine and eucalypt) for chemical conversion and direct applications. Biomass pre-treatment method will be developed, optimized and applied to extract hemicellulose prior to mechanical pulping, with sufficient subtlety to retaining the cellulose and lignin fractions in a near-native form. The extracted hemicellulose will be subjected to enzymatic reactions to produce oligomers and specific molecules of commercial interest in the biomedical, food, surfactant and fine chemicals industries.

Project 9: Engineering nano/micro-cellulose fibre and production processes

Main supervisor: Warren Batchelor

https://research.monash.edu/en/persons/warren-batchelor

This project aims to develop a range of micro- to nano-sized cellulosic materials production processes and investigate and optimize the specific product properties and opportunities. Processes and parameters that deliver the full range of micro- to nano-sized fibrillated fibres with respect to length, aspect ratio and specific surface area will be pursued for a range of feedstocks. The feedstock-property relationships will be determined, and mechanical processing will be targeted due to its potential to reduce energy, fibre and water utilisation.

Project 10: Surface engineering of nanocellulose and nanoparticles for applications

Main Supervisor: Warren Batchelor

https://research.monash.edu/en/persons/warren-batchelor

This project aims to develop sustainable, biodegradable and recyclable alternatives for polymer films and aluminium laminate composites via surface application of nanomaterials and biopolymers. Spray coating will be the main mechanism of formation of the product sheets and coatings. Material permeability, strength, wettability, conductivity and optical properties will be ascertained and tuned for specific applications.