School of Engineering and Materials Science Research Studentships

Advanced PEEK Membranes

Supervisors: Andrew LIVINGSTON

Application Deadline: 25-03-2022

Organic Solvent Nanofiltration (OSN) separates molecules present in solutions of organic solvents. In OSN, a pressure gradient is applied across a solvent stable nanoporous film, inducing transport of liquid across the film. Depending on relative permeation rates, molecular species in a feed liquid stream can be concentrated and separated. Typically OSN will use a small fraction of the energy of thermal methods such as evaporation and distillation, and can work at temperatures around ambient. These advantages have led to a huge surge in interest in OSN technology in the past few years, and a rapidly increasing number of commercial applications.

The key challenges in fabricating membranes for OSN include ensuring solvent stability, controlling molecular selectivity, and building in robustness in the form of resistance to physical aging.

This project will focus on membranes formed by phase inversion processes from polymer-solvent mixtures, using poly-ether-ether-ketone (PEEK) as starting point. PEEK is stable in nearly all organic solvents and resists physical aging well due to its semicrystalline structure. It is an ideal polymer for OSN membranes, and this project will seek methods for membrane fabrication from PEEK. The aim will be to prepare PEEK membranes with controlled selectivities that can separate solutes in the range 500 – 5,000 g mol-1. These membranes will be prepared first as small size bench cast materials, and then fabrication will be developed as a roll-to-roll process. To control selectivity, PEEK membranes will be post treated by annealing at elevated temperatures to tune the pore sizes.

QMUL Research Studentship Details

  • Available to Home/EU & International Applicants.
  • Full Time programme only.
  • Applicant required to start as soon as possible
  • The studentship arrangement will cover tuition fees and provide an annual stipend for up to three years (Set as £17,609 for 2021/22).
  • The minimum requirement for this studentship opportunity is a good Honours degree (minimum 2(i) honours or equivalent) or MSc/MRes in a relevant discipline.
  • If English is not your first language you will require a valid English certificate equivalent to IELTS 6.5+ overall with a minimum score of 6.0 in Writing 5.5 in all sections (Reading, Listening, Speaking).
  • International applicants should refer to the following website at

Supervisor Contact Details:

For informal enquiries about this position, please contact Andrew Livingston, E-mail:

Application Method:

To apply for this studentship and for entry on to PhD Full-time Chemical Engineering - Semester 1 (September Start) please follow the instructions detailed on the following webpage:

Research degrees in Engineering:

Further Guidance:

Please be sure to include a reference to ‘2021 SEMS ADV PEEK AL’ to associate your application with this studentship opportunity.