As part of the oil refinery process, millions of tonnes of elemental sulfur are produced each year and stored in enmass. The piles of sulfur continue to grow larger each year because there are very few uses for elemental sulfur beyond the production of fertilisers and sulfuric acid. One way that elemental sulfur can be broken down is by a process call Inverse Vulcanisation, where it is heated to temperatures above 160.
C. Once processed in this way, the sulfur can react with other molecules to form solid materials. Heating to these temperatures is not ideal, due to the obvious safety and practical concerns, but also due to the required energy input.
In this project, you will investigate ways do to inverse vulcanisation at room temperature, by utilising light as the trigger. Light is a mild, abundant resource, and has the benefit of fine spatial and temporal control. If successful, you will translate this system into a "photoresists" which is the starting liquid mixture used to develop 3D printed structures. Throughout this project, you will discover whether sulfur can be utilised in light-based 3D printing applications, thereby boosting the circular economy.
By the completion of this project, you will discover whether sulfur is suitable for use in light-based 3D printing applications.
Skills and experience
Basic knowledge of photo-physics and first year chemistry.
Contact the supervisor for more information.