Applications are invited for a fully funded PhD studentship supervised by Dr Russell Taylor (Department of Chemistry, Durham University).
The development of catalytic materials that can directly and efficiently convert abundant hydrocarbon resources to higher value products remains a major goal of academic and industrial research. However, developing routes that utilise methane as a source of carbon to upgrade other hydrocarbon streams is an opportunity to valorise this extremely cheap and abundant feedstock avoiding, the energy intensive production of synthesis gas.
Zeolites are widely used as catalysts in refinery and petrochemical processing due to their cost effective nature, robustness and the generally high reaction selectivities they exhibit. (Top. Catal., 2009, 52, 1131) Recent research has shown that metal-modified zeolites are able to activate methane under moderate conditions and that the resulting species can undergo subsequent reaction with other small molecules to form value added products.(ACS Catal., 2016, 6, 2965)
Project: The aim of this project is to develop catalytic processes for the simultaneous conversion of methane and other hydrocarbons to higher chemical products. Targeted main group and transition metals, supported on industrially relevant zeolite frameworks will be explored, as will different methods of metal incorporation in order to improve the catalytic functionality and develop structure function models. Active site distributions will be tailored through synthetic methodologies such as selective ion exchange and organometallic grafting. Materials will be screened for alkane activation through spectroscopic techniques (e.g. solid state NMR and DRIFTS), followed by reactivity with small molecules such as ethylene, propylene, and toluene. Catalytic testing will be conducted on an operando DRIFTS facility and on flow reactors (e.g. FlowCat) housed within the group. The mechanisms of reaction will be determined through the use of isotope labelling studies. Students will be trained in all areas of the project activities
The position is joint funded by Johnson Matthey (JM) and Durham University. The work will be conducted at Durham University under the supervision of Dr Russell Taylor and of a JM industrial supervisor, and the student may be expected to carry out experiments at JM (Stockton on Tees) as part of this project.
Applications are welcomed from enthusiastic and motivated individuals who have (or are expecting to obtain) at least the equivalent of a UK 2.i honours, masters level degree in chemistry or natural sciences. Applicants with other qualifications may be considered on an individual basis.
The position is available from October 2019, for a duration 39 months. Due to funding restrictions, the position is only open to applicants from the EU. Interested applicants should contact Dr Russell Taylor ([email protected]
) with a CV and the names of two suitable references. Informal enquiries are welcome; please contact Dr Russell Taylor by email. Early enquiries are very strongly encouraged as the position is very likely to be filled if a suitable candidate is identified.