The ideal candidate would have either a background in chemistry or chemical engineering with some experimental research experience. As the project involves chemical synthesis, characterisation, materials performance testing, and prototype development, a high-calibre student with a big-picture perspective on interdisciplinary science and engineering challenges will be necessary. A background of academic communication (demonstrated by a strong track record journal papers – more than one good publication – and conference presentations) will also be a priority. Either a domestic or an international candidate could work for this project, although a candidate from a country which faces challenges in water and electricity access would be given preference.
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Nearly 10% of the world’s population lacks access to reliable water and electricity. To help overcome this socio-economic challenge, we aim to develop a low-cost forward-osmosis module which runs on low-grade thermal energy. The key to unlocking this technology lies in the development of thermoresponsive hydrogels which can act as the “draw” for fresh water through a membrane. These thermoresponsive hydrogels must have a controlled transition temperature near 40oC and must reversibly and reliably expand/contract to several times their volume. Developing this technology could have global impact since most of the world has sufficient solar resources to drive such modules.