Personal profile

Summary

As an industrially funded PhD student, I started my research project in February 2022, under the supervision of Professor Andrew Pickford. My research is funded collaboratively by the University of Portsmouth and the Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company, where I focus on the enzymatic recycling of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastics. The project aims to scale up the bio-technology and contribute to the development of a sustainable solution for PET plastic waste management.

Research Overview:

My research project has three key objectives. Firstly, I am identifying and engineering novel enzymes capable of efficiently degrading crystalline PET. By screening databases and utilising known PET-degrading enzymes as templates, I aim to discover enzymes that can effectively target the high crystallinity present in most polymer materials.

Secondly, I am investigating the recovery of the monomers terephthalic acid (TPA) and ethylene glycol (EG) following the enzymatic hydrolysis of PET. My goal is to obtain these monomers in high yield and purity, enabling their reutilisation as feedstock for polymerisation into PET, thus contributing to a circular plastic economy.

Finally, I am exploring the impact of contaminants on the efficiency of enzymatic PET hydrolysis. Through my research, I aim to understand the effects of various contaminants, additives and dyes commonly found in plastic waste feedstocks, shedding light on their influence on the enzymatic degradation process.

Biography:

Prior to my PhD, I completed my MRes within the Centre for Enzyme Innovation following the achievement of a BSc in Biochemistry, both at the University of Portsmouth. This academic background has provided me with the necessary knowledge and research experience to support the completion of my doctorate.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions