Environmentally friendly antibiofouling coatings for marine applications


The EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Net Zero Maritime Energy solutions (N0MES) has a 4-year funded PhD place available for an exceptional researcher. With the support of the University of Liverpool (UoL), Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) and 33 maritime energy sector partners, N0MES PGRs will pursue new, engineering-centred, interdisciplinary research to address four vital net zero challenges currently facing the North West, the UK and beyond:

a) Energy generation using maritime-based renewable energy (e.g. offshore wind, tidal, wave, floating solar, hydrogen, CCS);

b) Distributing energy from offshore to onshore, including port- and hinterland-side impacts and opportunities;

c) Addressing the short- and long-term environmental impacts of offshore and maritime

environment renewable energy generation, distribution and storage; and

d) Decommissioning and lifetime extension of existing energy and facilities.

Marine biofouling is the colonization of man-made structures by organisms and poses significant challenges for industries engaged in the development of technologies within the marine environment. The marine renewable energy (MRE) sector which encompasses offshore wind, ocean energy (wave and tidal), and associated technologies of diverse sizes and configurations which are submerged at sea for extended periods are particularly susceptible to marine biofouling. One substantial economic repercussion of biofouling in the MRE sector is linked to the deterioration of structural integrity and performance. This deterioration results from factors such as the increased weight and thickness/rugosity of devices and components, as well as the obstruction of sensors and corrosion. Therefore addressing biofouling is imperative for these industries to ensure prolonged and efficient operational lifespans. The prevailing approach to combat biofouling involves the utilization of coatings composed of continuously released toxic metal ions and accompanying biocides which can have severe adverse consequences for non-target organisms and the marine ecosystem. As such, there is an urgent need for the development of novel environmentally friendly alternative coatings to addressing the challenges posed by marine biofouling. Increased weight and drag from biofouling can adversely affect MRE device operation by influencing hydrodynamic performance which in turn can affect power delivery. This decrease in efficiency causes energy wastage within the marine industry. To counter the energy loss, additional fuel consumption becomes necessary, contributing to global environmental concerns such as climate change. The aim of this studentship is to develop low carbon solutions for the prevention of biofouling on marine renewable energy devices. The will be achieved through the following objectives:

1. Design and fabrication of antimicrobial nanomaterials

2. Optimisation of antimicrobial materials into marine paint formulations (fouling release, hard coating antifouls and lifelong coating paints)

3. Biological evaluation of antifouling coatings under static conditions

4. Build dynamic test rig for biological testing under dynamic real life conditions.

5. Stability testing.


We want all of our staff and Students to feel that Liverpool is an inclusive and welcoming environment that actively celebrates and encourages diversity. We are committed to working with students to make all reasonable project adaptations including supporting those with caring responsibilities, disabilities or other personal circumstances. For example, If you have a disability you may be entitled to a Disabled Students Allowance on top of your studentship to help cover the costs of any additional support that a person studying for a doctorate might need as a result.

We believe everyone deserves an excellent education and encourage students from all backgrounds and personal circumstances to apply.

Applicant Eligibility

Candidates will have, or be due to obtain, a Master’s Degree or equivalent from a reputable University in an appropriate field of Engineering. Exceptional candidates with a First Class Bachelor’s Degree in an appropriate field will also be considered.


Application Process

Candidates wishing to apply should complete the University of Liverpool application form [How to apply for a PhD - University of Liverpool] applying for a PhD in Materials Engineering and uploading: Degree Certificates & Transcripts, an up-to-date CV, two academic references and a supporting statement [maximum 300 words] detailing; what inspires you within this project, how your skill set matches the project, up to 3 examples showing your commitment so science, piece of science that excites you & anything else to support your application.


Candidates wishing to discuss the research project should contact the primary supervisor [rdsa@liverpool.ac.uk], those wishing to discuss the application process should discuss this with the CDT Manager Matt Fulton [n0mescdt@liverpool.ac.uk].


Open to students worldwide

Funding information

Funded studentship

The EPSRC funded Studentship will cover full tuition fees of £4,786 per year and pay a maintenance grant for 4 years, starting at the UKRI minimum of £19,237 pa. for 2024-2025. The Studentship also comes with access to additional funding in the form of a research training support grant which is available to fund conference attendance, fieldwork, internships etc.

EPSRC Studentships are available to any prospective student wishing to apply including international students. Up to 30% of our cohort can comprise of international students and they will not be charged the fee difference between UK and international rate.