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Laser studies of free-radical recycling reactions in the atmosphere and biofuel oxidation


Project Description

This is a project to study gas-phase reactions of organic peroxyl radicals (RO2) in lab-based experiments at York & elsewhere. These reactions control radical propagation and termination rates in low to moderate temperature conditions; RO2 are therefore key intermediates in biofuel combustion and atmospheric oxidation. A detailed knowledge of RO2 reaction kinetics and products is crucial therefore to understand diverse subjects such as fuel efficiency and vehicle emissions to air quality and climate change.

Fig. 1 – the new pulsed laser photolysis / laser induced fluorescence experiment at UoY.
Fig. 2 – HIRAC is one chamber ideally equipped for RO2 studies, http://www.chem.leeds.ac.uk/hirac-group/

Recent work in York and elsewhere has demonstrated that a large and surprising number of RO2 reactions can recycle the hydroxyl radical (OH) – the principal oxidant in both the atmosphere and biofuel combustion engines.

Methods – the following kinetic tools will be used to determine rate coefficients, kinetic isotope effects and product yields for reactions of simple small (C3 - C5) RO2:
1. A new laser-based apparatus based in the York Department of Chemistry (Fig. 1).
2. Smog chambers (Fig. 2) - intensive campaigns at partner labs across the EU, http://www.eurochamp.org
3. Computational methods: GAUSSIAN & the Master Chemical Mechanism mcm.leeds.ac.uk/MCM/

Research environment – you will join a large & dynamic team at the Wolfson Atmospheric Chemistry Laboratory http://www.york.ac.uk/chemistry/research/wacl/ Supervision by experts in laser-based radical experiments & oxidation mechanisms will ensure appropriate support & guidance. Training provided by the Chemistry Dept. and UK research organisations will aid you to develop transferable skills in team-work, project management & data processing. You will present results to international conferences. This project complements efforts at York to develop explicit organic oxidation mechanisms, to constrain radical budgets in global atmospheric models, and develop sustainable alternatives to fossil fuel combustion.

All research students follow our innovative Doctoral Training in Chemistry (iDTC): cohort-based training to support the development of scientific, transferable and employability skills. All research students take the core training package which provides both a grounding in the skills required for their research, and transferable skills to enhance employability opportunities following graduation. Core training is progressive and takes place at appropriate points throughout a student’s higher degree programme, with the majority of training taking place in Year 1. In conjunction with the Core training, students, in consultation with their supervisor(s), select training related to the area of their research.

Training in laser safety, use of high-powered class-4 lasers and tuneable dye lasers will be provided. No prior experience with lasers necessary. Atmosphere-specific training will be provided by WACL staff and via the York-Leeds collaborative programme PANORAMA.

The Department of Chemistry holds an Athena SWAN Gold Award and is committed to supporting equality and diversity for all staff and students. The Department strives to provide a working environment which allows all staff and students to contribute fully, to flourish, and to excel. Chemistry at York was the first academic department in the UK to receive the Athena SWAN Gold award, first attained in 2007 and then renewed in October 2010 and in April 2015.

Funding Notes

This project is open to students who can fund their own studies or who have been awarded a scholarship separate from this project. The Chemistry Department at York is pleased to offer Wild Fund Scholarships to those from countries outside the UK. Wild Fund Scholarships offer up to full tuition fees for those from countries from outside the European Union. EU students may also be offered £6,000 per year towards living costs. For further information see: View Website

Related Subjects

How good is research at University of York in Chemistry?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 47.06

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

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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