The Sustainable Industry Manufacturing for Long-term Ecosystems (SIMPLE) Hub is a University of Southern Queensland led research program in partnership with multiple external industry and community partners. The Hub will target the development of sustainable ‘ecosystems’ in the manufacturing, resource, civil infrastructure, health, energy and agrifood industries.
The Opportunity:We are seeking a range of enthusiastic future researchers who may have backgrounds in materials engineering, manufacturing, polymer science, biomedical science, geotechnical engineering, chemical engineering, chemistry, microbiology or agrifood.
Join the SIMPLE Hub team and contribute to the future creation of more sustainable modified supply chains and manufacturing processes in regional Queensland and beyond. Your work will contribute to preventing several thousand metric tonnes of landfill waste and the development of local remanufacturing systems.
There are 6 fully funded PhD Scholarships available for outstanding candidates to work on a project at The University of Southern Queensland (UniSQ) in collaboration with our industry partners (Oilfield Piping Systems, Darling Downs Health, Jennmar, Impacts Renewable Energy, Venlo, Plungie and Australia Sunlight group) and university partners (University of Queensland and West Virginia University). The scholarship will cover a stipend (living allowance) for a domestic or international student (subject to the success in the application of an international fee scholarship) to commence studying a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in 2023.
There may also be the opportunity of undertaking an industry internship with our partners.
Research Topics available:
Project 1: Repurposing waste polymers for cost effective sucker rod guidesPrimary supervisor: Professor Allan Manalo (Allan.Manalo@usq.edu.au).
This project aims to develop cost-effective sucker rod guides to prevent waste in the resource industries. The topic would be based around three core stages: waste polymer material characterisation and categorisation, optimal mix design of repurposed polymer products, performance evaluation of remanufactured polymer products. The work would involve a combination of design of products, methods of fabrication, and methods of inspection. All would be verified by in-situ testing.
Project 2: Fire-retardant recycled polyethylene (PE) masterbatchesPrimary supervisor: Professor Pingan Song (Pingan.Song@usq.edu.au)
This project aims to develop high-performance cost-effective biobased fire retardants from recycled polyethylene (PE) for electronic and battery applications. Ecofriendly and highly effective biobased phosphorus-based fire retardants will be designed and synthesised to improve the processing, fire retardancy mechanical properties of recycled PE in combination with other processing additives.
Project 3: 3D bioengineered bone microenvironments to measure tumorigenic properties.Primary Supervisor: Dr Louisa Windus (Louisa.Windus@usq.edu.au).
This project aims to develop a three-dimensional (3D) scaffold fabricated from ‘waste’ eggshell particles with commercially available or waste-derived hydrogels. The scaffold will then be used to investigate the novel biology to help develop potential therapies for late-stage cancers. The project would be based around three core stages: waste material processing and characterisation, optimal mix design of the 3D scaffold, performance evaluation of the scaffold with tumour-stroma systems. The project may culminate in testing of late-stage cancer therapies using the 3d model.
Project 4: Development of amended grout products using waste materials for mining applications.Primary supervisor: Dr Ali Mirzaghorbanali (Ali.Mirzaghorbanali@usq.edu.au)
This project is intended to develop sustainable and environmentally friendlier grout products for mining and geotechnical applications using a range of waste materials (plastic, glass, tyres, rubbers, and fly ash) as cement replacement. The project will involve benchmarking with existing grouts used for the application of interest, mix design of amended grouts with the waste materials, grout characterisation including mechanical and rheological behaviour, assessing in-service grout performance through small- and large-scale pull out tests on grout-encapsulated cable bolts. This will culminate in development of numerical models to simulate axial load transfer mechanisms of cable bolts encapsulated using amended grout products.
Project 5: Development of small-scale advanced recycling processes with novel energy technologies to prevent food and packaging wastePrimary Supervisor: Associate Professor Polly Burey (Polly.Burey@usq.edu.au)
This project aims to combine novel sustainable energy technologies and small-scale advanced (chemical) recycling processes to deal with regional-scale waste streams. The project will involve physical and chemical characterisation of waste material feedstocks, processing investigations of laboratory scale advanced recycling systems, characterisation of products and testing of their performance. There is scope to proceed to further synthesis with the products.
Project 6: Formation of tailored cellulose materials from agrifood waste streamsPrimary Supervisor: Associate Professor Polly Burey (Polly.Burey@usq.edu.au)
This project aims to produce novel cellulose materials using food by-product streams as the feedstock. The project will involve characterisation of the food by-product streams, fermentation of the by-products into cellulose hydrogels, physical and chemical analysis of the hydrogels including mechanical, rheological and microstructural characteristics, as well as molecular structure. This project is in partnership with The University of Queensland.