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CO2 catalytic conversion into fuels and fuel-precursors using biomass-derived H-donors - LEVERHULME

Project Description

This experimental project will deal with the global challenge of mitigating CO2 emissions to the atmosphere, by using CO2 as a raw-material to produce fuels and fuel-precursors. It will involve the synthesis of materials, their characterisation and catalytic test under reaction conditions.

The hydrogenation of CO2 into oxygenates and/or hydrocarbons (methane, methanol or dimethyl ether) has been the most investigated routes to obtain fuels or fuel-precursors from this waste. However, this technology still faces some drawbacks: finding a sustainable hydrogen source and reduce the energy requirements for the chemical conversion of carbon dioxide.

The main goals of this project will be, thus, to develop heterogeneous catalysts with exceptional performance for the hydrogenation of CO2 in the liquid phase using sustainable H-donors obtained from renewable biomass sources, understand the behaviour of the catalysts and study the reaction mechanisms and kinetics involved. Catalysts will be optimised in order to achieve enhanced CO2 adsorption, high conversion and selectivity for the desired products and to be active at relatively low temperature.

Beyond conventional thermal catalysis, the project will also include the development and use of innovative and future emerging energy technologies for the catalytic activation of molecules, such as microwave radiation, ultra-sound, etc. These techniques will be used with the target of promoting heat and mass transfer.

A list of references has been included as a reading guide on this topic.

Selection will be made on the basis of academic merit. The successful candidate should have, or expect to obtain, a UK Honours degree at 2.1 or above (or equivalent) in Chemical Engineering or any related discipline, such as Chemistry, Materials Science.

Essential Background: Chemical Engineering, Reaction Engineering, Renewable Energy Engineering, Chemistry, Materials Science.

Knowledge of: Materials synthesis, materials characterisation, namely N2 sorption to determine textural characterisation, TGA, FTIR, XRD, gas chromatography, etc., reactor design and kinetics, heterogeneous catalysis.
Microsoft Office package (especially Excel).


Formal applications can be completed online:

• Apply for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Chemical Engineering
• State the name of the lead supervisor as the Name of Proposed Supervisor
• State ‘Leverhulme CDT in Sustainable Production of Chemicals and Materials’ as the Intended Source of Funding
• State the exact project title on the application form

Further information on the Leverhulme Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Sustainable Production of Chemical and Material can be found at:

Funding Notes

Leverhulme Doctoral Scholars will receive maintenance costs at Research Council rates and tuition fees at the rate for UK/EU students. In 2019/2020 the maintenance grant for full-time students was £15,141 per annum. International applicants who can pay the difference between the Home and International Fees would also be welcome to apply.


[1] I. Graça, L.V. González, M.C. Bacariza, A. Fernandes, C. Henriques, J.M. Lopes, M.F. Ribeiro, CO2 hydrogenation into CH4 on NiHNaUSY zeolites Applied Catalysis B: Environmental, 147 (2014) 101-110.

[2] M.C. Bacariza, M. Biset-Peiró, I. Graça, J. Guilera, J. Morante, J.M. Lopes, T. Andreu, C. Henriques, DBD plasma-assisted CO2 methanation using zeolite-based catalysts: Structure composition-reactivity approach and effect of Ce as promoter Journal of CO2 Utilization, 26 (2018) 202-211.

[3] M.C. Bacariza, I. Graça, J.M. Lopes, C. Henriques, Tuning Zeolite Properties towards CO2 Methanation: An Overview, ChemCatChem 11 (2019) 2388-2400.

[4] S.J. McGurk, C.F. Martín, S., Brandani, M.B. Sweatman, X. Fan, Microwave swing regeneration of aqueous monoethanolamine for post-combustion CO2 capture, Appl. Energy 192 (2017) 126-133.

[5] N. Westhuesand, J. Klankermayer, Transfer Hydrogenation of Carbon Dioxide to Methanol Using a Molecular Ruthenium-Phosphine Catalyst, ChemCatChem 11 (2019) 3371-3375.

[6] A. Stankiewicz, Energy Matters: Alternative Sources and Forms of Energy for
Intensification of Chemical and Biochemical Processes, Chemical Engineering Research and Design 84 (2006) 511-521.

How good is research at Aberdeen University in General Engineering?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 38.60

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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