Open PhD position (Catalyst deactivation)

Title: Overcoming heterogeneous catalyst deactivation during liquid phase operation.

Introduction: 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 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 their stability in these new chemical environments is far from understood. 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.

Outline of PhD: This PhD will focus on the study of deactivation processes experienced by heterogeneous catalysts during liquid phase operation, a focal point of our groups recent 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.

Candidate description: We are seeking exceptionally talented and motivated students to join our young, ambitious research team. Students should hold – or expect to obtain – a first class or upper second class – degree (or related qualification). The candidate should have a very good knowledge of fundamental chemistry, ideally some knowledge of chemical reaction engineering and some experience with inorganic materials chemistry.

Application procedure: Candidates should send a CV and a personal statement directly to Ceri Hammond (hammondc4 at cardiff dot ac dot uk). The personal statement should include the rational for applying for the position, a summary of previous research experience, and an overview of their suitability for the position.

Funding situation: Full three year PhD studentship (RCUK stipend rates + fees) available to UK/EU candidates.


Further information and online application details can be found here.