PhD: Development of enhanced graphene-based membranes for water treatment (MELENDI-ESPINAS_U22SCIO) via FindAPhD

University of East Anglia

Norwich, UK 🇬🇧

About the Project

Primary Supervisor – Dr Sonia Melendi-Espina

Secondary Supervisor – Miguel Hernaez

Supervisory team member – Dr Zoraida Gonzalez.

Applications are invited to the School of Engineering, University of East Anglia, for a PhD in the field of graphene-based membranes for water treatment. 

The increasing global water stress and consumption demand alludes to the urgent need for the manufacturing of durable and efficient water purification processes. Among the existing technologies, membrane separation is the most favourable due to lower energy consumption, environmental friendliness and high purification output. Polymers and ceramics are among the readily used materials as separation membranes. However, polymeric membranes have limited resistance to temperature and corrosive environments, while inorganic membranes present limited permeability. This often prevents their wide usage in a variety of applications. These disadvantages call for the consideration of alternative materials in membrane fabrication.

Graphene is among the promising next generation substitute owing to its 2-dimentionality and remarkable mechanical strength. However, its lack of cost-effective production scalability impedes its use as a membrane material at commercial scale. Fortunately, its oxide form, graphene oxide (GO), is a reasonable alternative as a membrane material, and it can be fabricated economically in large quantities. However, the presence of the oxygenated functional groups on the GO surface brings a fundamental limitation of poor membrane stability during performance. GO membranes tend to swell in aqueous environments due to the accumulation of water molecules in its oxidised regions, consequently leading to reduced membrane rejection over time. 

 Therefore, this proposal aims at the enhancement of membrane stability and separation abilities of GO membranes relative to currently employed materials for water treatment. Different fabrication methods will be considered in a systematic manner, controlling membrane thickness, quality and performance.  

Applicants should hold or be completing an undergraduate honours degree with a 1st or a 2.1 classification. Degrees in Material Science, Chemistry, Engineering and other related disciplines will be considered.  

For more information on the supervisor for this project, please visit the UEA website 

The start date is 1 October 2022

Entry requirements: Acceptable first degree in Material Science, Engineering, Chemistry and other related disciplines will be considered. Applicants should hold or be completing an undergraduate honours degree with a 1st or a 2.1 classification. 

Funding Notes

This PhD project is in a competition for a Faculty of Science funded studentship. Funding is available to UK applicants and comprises ‘home’ tuition fees and an annual stipend of £15,609 for 3 years. Applicants who are not eligible for home tuition fees are welcome to apply but they will be required to fund the difference between home and international tuition fees (which for 2021-22 are detailed on the University’s fees pages at View Website. Please note tuition fees are subject to an annual increase).





IHE Delft Institute for Water Education - MSc in Water and Sustainable Development