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Postgraduate research project

Hydrodynamic methods for cell disruption

Competition funded View fees and funding
Type of degree
Doctor of Philosophy
Entry requirements
2:1 honours degree View full entry requirements
Faculty graduate school
Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences
Closing date

About the project

The disruption of microorganisms, especially in lysing of cell membranes, immersed in fluids has been the object of increasing attention among engineers and scientists.

First, there is an interest in understanding and predicting the conditions under which disruption will occur, with the aim of minimising damage to cells as it is the case, for example, in microalgae cultivation systems. Second, research in this area is also aimed at the development of technology to induce the breach of cell membranes and walls, through devices often referred to as homogenizers, to enable the extraction of intracellular components.

Mechanical methods based on hydrodynamic effects, such as shearing, cavitation or rapid pressure changes, often offer advantages to many applications. Because of this, they do not require the addition of chemicals or enzymes which can have undesirable effects. While several alternatives are now available to disrupt cells, they are usually energy intensive and may induce undesired effects. In order to develop efficient technologies, further understanding of the interaction between microorganisms and physical phenomena operating at micro-scales is required.

In this PhD project you will investigate the interaction between selected hydrodynamic effects and microorganisms. You will first investigate, design, manufacture and test devices to create desired hydrodynamic conditions in the laboratory. Such conditions will then need to be analysed at high resolution. Finally, you will investigate the response of unicellular organisms, for example microalgae, to the conditions produced in these devices.

You will join an exciting team of scientists in the Water and Environmental Engineering Group working on the cutting-edge research in environmental fluid dynamics and water engineering. You will have access to world-class laboratory facilities, which include some of the measurement devices to analyse fluid flow and microalgae including:

  • particle Image velocimetry
  • chlorophyl fluorometer
  • microscopy
  • laser Interferometry 

and outstanding fabrication facilities.

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