Amna Khatun

Profile

I studied for my undergraduate degree part-time at University of Huddersfield with a BSc Honors in Chemistry with Chemical Engineering

During my undergraduate studies, I was working as a Laboratory Technician at Ciba in the Mining and Extractives Industry. I conducted liquid/solid separation of mineral slurries using polymers. Ciba was acquired by BASF and there was restructuring in the department. 

I then went to work as a polymer chemist at Ashland where I was developing polymers using a range of polymerisation techniques including solution, emulsion and liquid dispersion polymerisations. I also have experience developing acrylate fragrance encapsulation for home care laundry detergent. During my time at Ashland, I completed a diploma in cosmetic science and I am a member of the Society of Cosmetic Sciences. I have experience developing personal care formulations.

I am currently a PhD Student at School of Chemical and Process Engineering pmakh@leeds.ac.uk I am part of the Molecules to Product programme Centre of Doctoral Training (CDT) funded by Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). My PhD focuses on understanding and evaluating the biodegradation fate of engineered polymeric microparticles that enters through various channels into the natural environment.

Research interests

Polymeric microparticles or the so called ‘microplastics’ of diameter of < 5 mm are increasingly present in the environment, particularly in the aquatic waste streams as a result of their inclusion within formulated products such as home and personal care products and pose serious threats to the environment and human health. To address these concerns, significant advances have been made in the development of biodegradable polymeric materials in the last decade.  Biodegradation can be described as the process of breakdown of polymer chains into smaller molecules resulting from biological processes (microorganisms) initiated by the natural environment in aerobic and anaerobic conditions. Some of the biodegradable polymers that can be used to prepare microparticles include polylactic acid (PLA) polyhydroxyalkonates (PHA), polybutylene succinate (PBS), polyhydroxy butyrate (PHB), polybutylene succinate (PBS), polylactic acid (PLA), and polycaprolactone (PCL), which have shown various degrees and kinetics of biodegradation in both simulated and real environments [2].

Currently, industrial standards for plastic biodegradation exist but they are not specifically adapted to polymeric microparticles and do not result in a consistent understanding of how these systems degrade. This project aims to construct test methodologies that allow for monitoring the physical and biological degradation characteristics of polymeric microparticles as a function of time as they are placed within an environment to degrade them. Progress so far has been made to develop the microparticles using a known biodegradable polymer using solvent extraction methodology. Furthermore, characterisation has been conducted on the microparticles by measuring particle size, microscopic imaging and surface properties. In addition, an enzyme has been identified to act as a catalyst to degrade the particles. We will also monitor the evolution of carbon dioxide using a respirometer set-up. Further analysis will be focussed on monitoring porosity, molecular weight and chemical composition of the polymeric microparticles.

Qualifications

  • BSc Hons in Chemistry with Chemical Engineering
  • Diploma in Cosmetic Science