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Magnetic Resonance Imaging of Heterogeneous Catalytic Conversions

Project Description

Due to funding regulations, this studentship is only available to UK and EU nationals. Students must meet the eligibility criteria at: Overseas nationals are not eligible and should not apply.

(3-year fully-funded PhD studentship with Professor Lynn Gladden, Dr. Andy York and Dr. Mick Mantle; industrial partner Johnson Matthey plc ( Project to start 1 October 2020.)

Catalysis lies at the heart of the chemical industry with 80% of industrial chemical production requiring catalytic technology within their manufacturing process. It is estimated that catalysis contributes around $10 trillion to the global economy, including £50 billion p.a. to the UK alone. As a result there is strong motivation to make catalytic processes more energy efficient and more selective to the required product thereby reducing production of by-products or waste streams. Our research group has developed new magnetic resonance imaging and spectroscopy methods to image gas and liquid flows, molecular diffusion inside catalyst pellets, and to map chemical conversion inside heterogeneous catalytic reactors. This project focusses on hydrogenation reactions of particular relevance to the pharmaceutical industry. Many of these reactions are currently performed as batch processes; the interest in this work is to operate them as continuous processes in a fixed-bed catalytic reactor. The benefits of continuous processing include improvements in sustainability as well as cost. The aim of the project is to use state-of-the-art magnetic resonance imaging techniques to optimise the design of the catalytic and reactor operation to maximise catalytic conversion and improve catalyst selectivity. The project will include the opportunity to develop new imaging techniques as well as to make a contribution to the development of catalytic processes.

The industrial collaborator on the project is Johnson Matthey (, one of the largest catalyst manufacturers in the world. This partnership gives us access to catalytic materials and insight to the relevant process technologies so that whilst doing fundamental research, the outputs of the project can be applied to relevant industrial systems.

Applicants for the studentship should have a First Class (or a high 2:1) degree in a relevant discipline such as chemical or biochemical engineering, engineering, chemistry or physics. Standard admissions criteria apply; please see:

To apply for the studentship:

1. Please ensure that you are eligible by visiting:

2. Submit a formal application for admission to study Chemical Engineering via the University’s Graduate Admissions Office (, noting Prof Lynn Gladden, Dr. Andy York and Dr. Mick Mantle as the prospective supervisors and quoting reference NQ22473 in the research proposal, by 22 March 2020.

Related Subjects

How good is research at University of Cambridge in General Engineering?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 177.20

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

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