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Coats for Preventing Palladium Membrane Contamination

Project Description

Many important metal-based catalysts are subject to contamination, since they have non-discriminative adsorptive properties to reactants and contaminants. It is desirable to prevent/reduce the adsorption of undesired molecules, while maintaining high activity. We hypothesized that a monoatomic layer of any material placed over the surface of metals can act as a barrier to prevent poisoning, while maintaining their catalytic performance. As a proof-of-concept, palladium (Pd) films/membranes will employed to study their H2S contamination.

Pd membranes separate H2 selectively and rely in the exclusive catalytic dissociation of H2 at their surface. Adsorbed H2 dissociates into protons, permeating through the Pd lattice and recombining at the opposite Pd surface, yielding pure H2. The implementation of Pd membranes often involves the presence of other gas molecules with affinity towards the surface of Pd, reducing the H2 flux of the membranes. Particularly, H2S reduces the activity of pure Pd membranes by ~70% and their lifetime by contaminating not only the surface, but also the bulk of the membrane. H2S poisoning is the major barrier towards the implementation of Pd membranes at the industrial scale

This project focuses on studying the influence of carbon materials on the catalytic properties of palladium membranes. At first, the analysis will be performed through a combined quantum mechanics/molecular mechanics (QM/MM) methodology. Simultaneously, palladium membranes will be synthesized and used for characterization. A carbon coating technique will be developed and implemented on the surface of the membranes. The final carbon-coated palladium membranes will be tested for H2S resistance.

The experimental and modelling aspects of the project requires a student with a strong background in chemical engineering and material science. The ability to think outside the box and enthusiasm for combining experimental and theoretical methods are essential. Any English language requirements must be met at the deadline for applications.

Informal enquiries should be directed to Dr Bernardo Castro ()

Formal applications should be made via the University of Bath’s online application form for a PhD in Chemical Engineering. Please ensure that you state the full project title and lead supervisor name on the application form.

More information about applying for a PhD at Bath may be found here:

Anticipated start date: 30 September 2019

Funding Notes

This project is eligible for inclusion in funding rounds scheduled for end of November 2018, January 2019, February 2019, March 2019 and April 2019. A full application must have been submitted before inclusion in a funding round.

Funding will cover Home/EU tuition fees, a maintenance stipend (£14,777 pa (2018/19 rate)) and a training support fee of £1,000 per annum for 3.5 years.

How good is research at University of Bath in Aeronautical, Mechanical, Chemical and Manufacturing Engineering?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 61.00

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

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