Summer Internship - Highly efficient filter material development with seaweed nanocellulose - Scion

Updated: 20 days ago
Job Type: Permanent
Deadline: 29 Sep 2021

Main aim of work/project:

This project will focus on developing filter materials that are modified with sustainable seaweed nanocellulose for potential high value healthcare air filter applications. The student will be mainly working on preparing and testing seaweed nanocellulose coated filters to determine the best filter materials to go on to be tested in an external lab.

Research Abstract

The global pandemic has rapidly increased the demand for inspirator air filtration. The air filters, for capturing and retaining nanoparticles during filtration, are mainly made with petroleum-based polymers such as polypropylene (PP) and polyethylene (PE). These air filters are also single use for a very limited time. For example, commercial healthcare respiratory filters need to be replaced every 24 hours, which leads to the generation of huge amounts of plastic waste that causes serious environmental problems. Therefore, sustainable and high-performance air filtration materials are in great demand.

Nanocellulose based air filters already showed high efficiency for the removal of air pollutants due to their large surface area and easy functionalisation, which is providing a new direction for the application of nanocellulose in air filtration. Scion has recently developed a method for scalable production of nanocellulose from New Zealand seaweed waste. We would like to take this internship opportunity to test if seaweed nanocellulose is a promising material for potential healthcare air filter applications. Our preliminary results already showed that the seaweed nanocellulose coating could affect the filtration pressure drop of filters.  If the project gets funded, the candidate will mainly work on developing a filter material by depositing the seaweed nanocellulose to a support filter membrane. We hypothesise that the changes of membrane porous structure by coating with seaweed nanocellulose will improve the air filtration efficiency with a relatively low pressure drop. The cellulose concentration, drying methods and types of support filter will be investigated, and their filtration performance and mechanical properties will be tested. The findings from this project will be beneficial for production of inexpensive and sustainable air filtration materials with seaweed nanocellulose that the healthcare industry is interested in.

What the student will do

The task to perform includes:

  • Preparation of nanocellulose coated filter membranes, including the fabrication methods development
    • Support filter type
    • Nanocellulose deposition method
    • Nanocellulose concentration
    • Dying method
  • Testing of coated filter materials to find out the best material for air filtration
    • Surface morphology characterisation
    • Mechanical testing
    • Air resistance testing
    • Contact angle testing
  • Reporting the findings
    • A final report will be drafted for review
    • The most promising filter material will be sent to an external lab for industry standard testing

    By completing this internship project, the student will gain

    • Hands-on experience in the laboratory
    • A chance to apply their knowledge in the workplace
    • Time and project management skills
    • Industry-relevant product manufacture experience
    • Guidance and suggestion for future career development

    Qualifications, skills and attributes needed:

    • Knowledge on chemistry and material engineering
    • Chemical laboratory work experience
    • Interest or experience of material testing
    • Team player who can also work independently

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