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Hierarchical porous architectures for catalytic cascade reactions


   Department of Chemical Engineering

   Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

A catalyst is a substance that increases the rate of a chemical reaction without being consumed, offering greater energy efficiency relative to non-catalytic pathways. As a result, the chemical industry is highly reliant on catalysis, with catalytic processes underpinning 90% of all global chemical production, with the UK a key contributor to the development of catalytic materials and processes. In heterogeneous catalysis, the catalyst presents as a different phase to the reaction, most commonly a solid catalyst used in either a gas or liquid phase reaction. These often consist of supported platinum group metal particles with dimension in the nanometre regime (1 nm = 1 millionth of a millimetre) which are tuned for optimal performance towards a single chemical transformation, e.g. alcohol oxidation to an aldehyde.

One-pot cascade reactions are step-wise chemical transformations where the product from the first reaction becomes the substrate for the next step, and so on, with such sophisticated reaction mechanisms conferring significant benefits including enhanced process efficiency and reduced waste generation. We have recently shown that spatial compartmentalisation of two distinct catalytic active sites enables precise control over the reaction sequence within a two-step catalytic cascades (Nature Mater. 2016, 15, 178, Nature Catal. 2020, doi.org/10.1038/s41929-020-00526-5). This project will build on this exciting catalytic strategy, to produce novel hierarchical porous architectures and methodologies for selective functionalisation, delivering sustainable routes for chemical and fuel production.

The student will be based within the University of Manchester at Harwell Research Institute within the group of Dr Chris Parlett, located at Diamond Light Source and embedded within the UK Catalysis Hub. Both national facilities are located at the Harwell Research Complex in Oxfordshire, which is the UK’s leading science innovation and technology campus, situated 20 minutes from Oxford and one hour from London, and will provide access to world-leading facilities. The unique research environment, along with in-depth training, will enable you to develop expertise spanning heterogeneous catalysis, nanomaterials, and operando/in-situ spectroscopy.

Application Information

Information about the application process and a link to the online application form can be found at https://www.manchester.ac.uk/study/postgraduate-research/admissions/how-to-apply/.

You MUST make contact with the lead project supervisor before submitting an application.

When completing the application include the name of the lead project supervisor as the potential supervisor.

Enquiries about this project can be sent to Dr Parlett - as the lead project supervisor. The Admissions team in Chemical Engineering can be contacted at  with any queries you may have regarding the application process.

Equality, diversity and inclusion is fundamental to the success of The University of Manchester, and is at the heart of all of our activities. We know that diversity strengthens our research community, leading to enhanced research creativity, productivity and quality, and societal and economic impact. We actively encourage applicants from diverse career paths and backgrounds and from all sections of the community, regardless of age, disability, ethnicity, gender, gender expression, sexual orientation and transgender status.

We also support applications from those returning from a career break or other roles. We consider offering flexible study arrangements (including part-time: 50%, 60% or 80%, depending on the project/funder). 


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