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CO2 Fuels - Direct conversion of Carbon Dioxide to Renewable Fuels

   Department of Chemistry

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  Dr RA Taylor  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Project: CO2 Fuels - Direct conversion of Carbon Dioxide to Renewable Fuels

Department: Chemistry

The EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Renewable Energy Northeast Universities (ReNU) is a collaborative doctoral training programme run by the Universities of Northumbria, Newcastle and Durham. In addition to undertaking an individual scientific research project at one of the three partner Universities, doctoral candidates will engage with added value training opportunities, for example in business and innovation through a 4-year training programme that has been designed to maximise the benefits of a cohort approach to doctoral training. The start date is 1st October 2023.

Background: The motor transportation industry is undergoing a revolution as Li-ion battery technology is replacing fossil-derived liquid fuels as the energy source. However, due to the low power to weight ratio, Li-ion batteries are unlikely to replace liquid aviation fuels. Sustainable aviation fuel derived from hydrogenation of captured carbon dioxide could result in a 70% reduction in life-cycle carbon compared to fossil-based sources (https://ktn-uk.org/transport/sustainable-aviation/).

Project: The aim of the project is to develop well defined, composite catalysts bearing zinc-based hydrogenation functionality and zeolitic Brønsted acidic sites that are able to effect the hydrogenation of CO2 to jet fuel. Using our knowledge and control of zinc speciation in modified zeolites (Sustainable Energy Fuels, 2021, 5, 2136 and ChemPhysChem, 2020, 21, 673) the project will elucidate how the nature and location of the differing catalytic components affects the overall catalytic function, which will provide structure function models for future catalyst design. The location of the disparate catalytic functionalities will be controlled via rationalised synthetic approaches such as organometallic grafting. The conversion of CO2 to jet fuel will be explored using flow reactors coupled with online analysis (GCMS) and mechanistic pathways will be probed by in-situ DRIFTS analysis.

For informal enquiries, please contact Dr Russell Taylor [Email Address Removed]

The application closing date is 17th February 2023 and it is anticipated interviews will take place later in the month. Please note that interviews will be online.

Eligibility and How to Apply

Our eligibility requirements are:

•       Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.

•       If required, an IELTS score of 6.5 with no component under 6.0.

·       Two satisfactory academic references.

•       Applicants cannot apply for this funding if currently engaged in Doctoral study at Durham or elsewhere.

You must apply through the University’s online postgraduate application system.

  • Create an account and click ‘Postgraduate Apply’ on the top ribbon.
  • Search for ‘EPSRC CDT’ in Course and select Renewable Energy Northeast Universities (EPSRC CDT) starting in 2023/24. 
  • Complete the application form, ensuring the following:
  • On the funding tab select ‘yes’ you are applying for a scholarship, select ‘Other’, write RENU/Taylor in the name of the scholarship, and select 1st October 2023 as the start date. No scholarship documents are required.
  • On the project course details tab write RENU/Taylor in Field of Study.
  • Please include an application letter summarising your motivation and suitability for the project.
  • Please ensure you follow all of these steps to ensure your application is considered.


Funding notes

Home and International students (inc. EU) are welcome to apply. The studentship is available to Home and International students, and includes a full stipend at UKRI rates (for 2020/21 full time study, this was £15,609 pa) and full tuition fees. Also, significant additional funding is included to cover research costs and local, national and international travel such as conferences and exchanges. Note that these studentships will be awarded on a competitive basis between projects. We anticipate that up to 5 awards will be made for projects hosted at Durham. 

Please note there are a limited number of full international scholarships available. Further information about how EPSRC classifies international fee status please see TGC 5.2.5 UKRI-021122-TrainingGrantTermsAndConditions.pdf

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