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Development of cutting-edge microporous adsorbents for gas separation processes

Project Description

Developing cost-effective adsorbents aiming at separating impurities from different gas mixtures is a real and necessary challenge for the industry, especially the energy sector.

Reducing the costs and the associated energy penalties of gas separation processes are the driving forces that justify the development of new materials with the specific characteristics required for these applications. Adsorption of gaseous species on the surface and their regeneration at moderate temperatures in more efficient materials would be a cost-effective separation technology.
Several gas separation examples such as the removal of acidic gases (CO2 and H2S) from raw natural gas, post-combustion flue gas, impurities in biogas and bio-hydrogen (generated from the dark fermentation) are demanding more efficient adsorbents for the separation and purification of these industrially-produced gaseous mixtures. By removing the impurities in these mixtures, there will be a potential use of the gaseous components with high calorific values, such as methane and hydrogen, which can then be used as renewable sources of energy with zero or even negative emissions.

Nevertheless, forces of interaction adsorbate-adsorbent, as well as the key parameters that determine the success of these separations, such as the comparative effects of porous texture and surface chemistry, especially under the presence of water and other impurities, are yet to be further explored, impeding the optimization of the materials characteristics and processes conditions to be used in a cost-competitive industrial approach.

This project will face the global challenge of reducing emissions and the production of energy from renewable resources. The research candidate will develop advanced adsorbents aiming at the separation of undesired species and/or impurities from industrial gas mixtures. The latter will involve the synthesis of polymers, surface modification, characterisation, evaluation of gas uptakes at equilibrium and separation at dynamic conditions, adsorption selectivity, study of kinetics of adsorption-desorption, among other characterisation techniques.

Candidates should have (or expect to achieve) a UK honours degree at 2.1 or above (or equivalent) in Chemical Engineering, Chemistry, Physics, Materials Science along with knowledge of:

Materials science, materials characterisation: textural characterisation: BET, micropore volume, total pore volume, average pore diameter, …; understanding the experimental characterisation techniques, such as gas chromatograph, FTIR, TGA, porosimeter…), organic chemistry, physical chemistry, reactor dynamics, thermodynamics and heat transfer, gas separation processes, adsorption principles, kinetics of adsorption and desorption, etc.
Microsoft Office package (specially Excel). The knowledge of any other software such as Matlab, Aspen Hysys (Adsorption) will be valuable.
Alternative energy technologies.


• Apply for Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Engineering
• State name of the lead supervisor as the Name of Proposed Supervisor
• State ‘Self-funded’ as Intended Source of Funding
• State the exact project title on the application form

When applying please ensure all required documents are attached:

• All degree certificates and transcripts (Undergraduate AND Postgraduate MSc-officially translated into English where necessary)
• Detailed CV

Informal inquiries can be made to Dr C Fernandez-Martin () with a copy of your curriculum vitae and cover letter. All general enquiries should be directed to the Postgraduate Research School ()

Additional research costs (ARC) of £1,000 - £1,300 per annum will be required for consumables.

Funding Notes

This project is advertised in relation to the research areas of the discipline of Chemical Engineering. The successful applicant will be expected to provide the funding for Tuition fees, living expenses and maintenance. Details of the cost of study can be found by visiting View Website. THERE IS NO FUNDING ATTACHED TO THIS PROJECT.


[1] Martin, CF., Sweatman, MB., Brandani, S. & Fan, X. (2016). 'Wet impregnation of a commercial low cost silica using DETA for a fast post-combustion CO2 capture process'. Applied Energy, vol 183, pp. 1705-1721.
[2] Martin, CF., Plaza, MG., Garcia, S., Pis, JJ., Rubiera, F. & Pevida, C. (2011). 'Microporous phenol-formaldehyde resin-based adsorbents for pre-combustion CO2 capture'. Fuel, vol 90, no. 5, pp. 2064-2072.
[3] Martin, CF., Stockel, E., Clowes, R., Adams, DJ., Cooper, AI., Pis, JJ., Rubiera, F. & Pevida, C. (2011). 'Hypercrosslinked organic polymer networks as potential adsorbents for pre-combustion CO2 capture'. Journal of Materials Chemistry, vol 21, no. 14, pp. 5475-5483.
[4] Martin, CF., Garcia, S., Pis, JJ., Rubiera, F. & Pevida, C. (2011). 'Doped phenol-formaldehyde resins as precursors for precombustion CO2 capture adsorbents'. Energy Procedia, vol 4, pp. 1222-1227.
[5] Martin, CF., Plaza, MG., Pis, JJ., Rubiera, F., Pevida, C. & Centeno, TA. (2010). 'On the limits of CO2 capture capacity of carbons'. Separation and Purification Technology, vol 74, no. 2, pp. 225-229.
[6] Martin, CF., Garcia, S., Beneroso, D., Pis, JJ., Rubiera, F. & Pevida, C. (2012). 'Precombustion CO2 capture by means of phenol–formaldehyde resin-derived carbons: from equilibrium to dynamic conditions'. Separation and Purification Technology, vol 98, pp. 531-538.

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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