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Biomass Conversion to Renewable Chemicals and Energy

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  • Full or part time
    Dr X Wang
    Dr P Kechagiopoulos
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Self-Funded PhD Students Only
    Self-Funded PhD Students Only

Project Description

Fossil fuels coal, petroleum crude oil and natural gas, as sources of thermal energy, fuels and chemicals, have been predominant in the world’s energy supply. It is known that as long as millions of years are required to form fossil fuels on the earth; therefore their reserves are finite and subject to depletion as they are consumed. The continuously increasing demand of energy and the consequent high consumption of natural resources have already resulted in serious environmental degradation and fossil energy reserves concerns. It is thus imperative for human beings to utilise biomass as an alternative energy resource, which are large enough, natural and renewable. The formation of biomass involves the capture of solar energy via photosynthesis, during which CO2 is converted to organic compounds. Overall CO2 neutrality exists while converting biomass to no matter fuels (to release energy) or to chemicals for daily uses.

This project targets at converting bio-derived feedstock (glycerol as a representative) to valuable chemicals or energy (H2) through novel catalytic solutions. In this work, the successful student will investigate the synthesis and characterisation of catalytic materials (supported metal catalysts), catalyst evaluation, kinetic/mechanistic analysis and process development. We aim to establish:

1, the fundamental properties of glycerol oxidation, reduction (hydrogenolysis) and possibly reforming from thermodynamic and kinetic perspectives;

2, detailed catalyst development: identify roles from the metal (e.g. Au or Pd), supports (acidity (e.g. Al2O3), basicity (e.g. MgO) and reducibility (e.g. CexZr1-xO2));

3, feasibility to use both batch liquid pressurised system and gas phase continuous operation at atmospheric pressure, in order to design an energy efficient route.

The successful candidate should have, or expect to have an Honours Degree at 2.1 or above (or equivalent) in Chemical Engineering, Chemistry, Materials Science and Engineering with knowledge of Heterogeneous catalysis, reaction engineering, physical chemistry, catalyst characterisation, kinetic/thermodynamic analysis.

Funding Notes

There is no funding attached to this project it is for self-funded students only.


Application Process:

Formal applications can be completed online: You should apply for PhD in Engineering, to ensure that your application is passed to the correct College for processing. Please ensure that you quote the project title and supervisor on the application form.

Informal inquiries can be made to Dr X Wang, ([email protected]) with a copy of your curriculum vitae and cover letter. All general enquiries should be directed to the Graduate School Admissions Unit ([email protected]).

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