Open PhD position (scalable catalyst synthesis)

Title: Scalable synthesis of heterogeneous catalytic materials.

Introduction: In addition to possessing high levels of activity, selectivity and stability, promising heterogeneous catalysts need to be prepared by scalable synthesis protocols. Although critical for commercialisation, this performance indicator is often overlooked.

To date, almost all heterogeneous catalysts are prepared with conventional, batch processes (typically solvothermal), such as impregnation, co-precipitation and hydrothermal synthesis. Although effective and reproducible, such protocols exhibit a number of disadvantages, including 1) poor space-time-yields i.e. throughput, and 2) the generation of large volumes of contaminated aqueous/liquid waste.

Outline of PhD: This PhD will focus on the study of scalable synthesis of heterogeneous catalysts with a variety of emerging synthetic methods, including mechanochemistry and continuous flow methods. The project stems from some of our groups recent research (see: Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. (2012) 51, 11736; ChemCatChem (2015) 7, 3322; Green Chem. (2017) DOI: 10.1039/C7GC00160F). The synthesis of a variety of solid catalysts (e.g. zeotypes, metal/metal oxide nanoparticles, carbon-based materials) will be investigated, and the resultant materials will be explored for a variety of catalytic applications, including fluorination, oxidation and biomass valorisation. Detailed project descriptions and planning will be undertaken directly with the successful candidate.

Although focused on material preparation, the project will entail a wide range of methods, including material preparation and modification, catalytic testing (batch, continuous flow), analytical studies and detailed (in situ) spectroscopic investigations. The primary aims will be to 1) optimise novel and scalable material preparation protocols, and 2) understand the mechanisms of material synthesis, and 3) utilise the resultant materials for a variety of catalytic applications.

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, and some experience with inorganic materials chemistry. Some knowledge of (in situ) spectroscopy is also preferred.

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.