Carbon laydown, known as coking, is a well-known challenge in heterogeneous catalysis typically leading to catalyst deactivation. Recent research has however also demonstrated that coke deposits may play a positive role in catalytic reactions over solid catalysts. This project will seek to understand those effects so that they can be exploited to improve the efficiency of petrochemical processing.
One class of reactions where coke deposits can play a beneficial role is in the dehydrogenation of alkanes – both under non-oxidative and oxidative conditions. These reactions will be studied over heterogeneous metal oxide catalysts in order to understand the characteristics that distinguish undesireable and desireable coke deposits. Additionally, model carbonaceous materials, e.g. graphene oxide will be studied in order to develop structure-performance relationships for these systems.
Additionally, coke deposits have been postulated to play positive role in Fisher-Tropsch type reactions. These will also be the subject of investigation, in particular over iron-silicates. The department is currently developing a large-scale (1 l) Fischer-Tropsch reactor and this work will align closely with the development of that facility.
The results from the above studies will feed into the design of new catalysts and catalytic processes. Carbin laydown is ubiquitous in any catalytic process involving a carbon-containing feed. The results will therefore be transferable to a wide range of systems including catalytic biomass conversion in future biorefineries.
Students will fully engage in the Faculty Doctoral Development Programme. In addition, subject-specific training in industrial-standard analytic techniques will be provided.
Graduates in his field are highly employable. Catalysis underpins the UK and global manufacturing sectors with over 90% of products employing a catalyst at some stage in their manufacture. Opportunities therefore exist to progress into companies at all levels, from large multi-nationals to SMEs; or into academia.
The student will be an integrated part of large research group benefitting from many shared resources.
This project is suitable for a graduate in chemical engineering, chemistry, materials science or a closely related subject holding a 2.1 (or equivalent) degree. Applicants should meet the universities requirements for English language proficiency.