PhD in Chemistry: Intensification of heterogeneous catalysts during liquid phase operation

Cardiff University
April 28 2017
Position Type
Full Time
Organization Type

Applications are invited for a PhD studentship in the Hammond group at the Cardiff Catalysis Institute (School of Chemistry) Cardiff University. The Hammond Catalysis Engineering (HCE) group specialises in several aspects of catalysis, including (1) catalysis with porous materials and metal/metal oxide nanoparticles, primarily for liquid phase processes, (2) advanced catalytic studies of catalytic processes with in situ spectroscopy and micro-kinetic analysis, and (3) the intensification (scale up) of catalytic processes.

In addition to possessing high levels of catalytic activity and excellent levels of target product selectivity, promising heterogeneous catalysts also need to demonstrate excellent levels of stability. Although critical, and often determining for commercialisation, this performance indicator is often overlooked.

As the chemical industry moves towards renewable, non-traditional feedstock (e.g. lignocellulose, algae, H2 storage compounds) and novel methods of feedstock upgrading (e.g. liquid phase, heterogeneous catalytic chemistry), unique strains are placed on heterogeneous catalysts, and the stability of such materials in these new chemical environments is far from understood. This lack of knowledge currently inhibits intensification of several emerging processes, and limits the ability of the chemical industry to become more sustainable. Accordingly, there is an urgent need to identify the causes(s) of deactivation in several emerging areas of sustainable catalysis, and devise strategies that minimise, or ideally avoid, their impact.

This PhD will focus on the study of deactivation processes experienced by heterogeneous catalysts during liquid phase operation, a focal point of our groups research (see: Green Chem. (2017) DOI: 10.1039/C7GC00163K; Green Chem. (2016) 18, 5041; J. Mater. Chem. A (2016) 4, 1373; ChemCatChem (2016) 8, 3490). A variety of liquid phase catalytic systems (e.g. low temperature hydrogen generation, biomass valorisation, selective oxidations) and heterogeneous materials (zeotypes, metal/metal oxide nanoparticles, carbon-based materials) will be investigated, and detailed project descriptions and planning will be undertaken directly with the successful candidate. The project will entail a wide range of methods, including material preparation and modification, catalytic testing (batch, continuous flow), analytical studies and (in situ) spectroscopic investigations. The primary aims will be to 1) elucidate the mechanisms of deactivation in various solid-liquid systems, and 2) devise strategies by which these issues can be minimised or overcome.

In addition, PhD students in the Hammond group are encouraged to participate in multiple side projects.  As such, opportunities to utilise the skills developed during this project in other challenges of catalytic science will also be explored.

The HCE group is a member of the Cardiff Catalysis Institute, a University Research Institute at Cardiff University. Currently, the group consists of 1 PI and 7 full time PhD students, in addition to several undergraduate students. The group possesses a wide range of catalytic, analytical, spectroscopic and auxiliary instrumentation, including (but not limited to) GC/GC-MS, HPLC, (high-pressure) batch reactors, several Plug Flow and Trickle Bed reactors, FTIR/DRIFTS, UV-Vis, Raman and porosimetry. Communal CCI equipment (XRD, SEM-EDX, TPDRO, chemisorption, TGA(MS), NMR, XPS, amongst others) also supports our teams activities.

This job comes from a partnership with Science Magazine and Euraxess

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