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New materials for Sustainable Biomass Oxidation Catalysis

   Department of Chemistry

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  Prof M J Rosseinsky, Dr J Claridge  Applications accepted all year round  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project



Please ensure you quote the following reference on your application: New materials for Sustainable Biomass Oxidation Catalysis (Reference CCPR027).

This PhD studentship: is an exciting opportunity to develop new catalysts for transformation of biomass-derived chemical feedstocks into monomers for carbon-neutral plastic manufacture. Using a range of experimental approaches, including robotic high-throughput methods, you will explore the synthesis of mixed metal oxides based on vanadates, molybdates and zeolites and you will evaluate their catalytic properties for the selective oxidation of furan-based feedstocks into precursors for plastics. The project will combine synthetic chemistry, advanced structural analysis (crystallography), characterisation with sorption and spectroscopic methods and testing of catalytic properties, with the opportunity to focus on one or more of these aspects during the project e.g., if your interest develops toward crystallography, that could become a central point. As well as obtaining knowledge and experience in materials synthesis and catalyst evaluation the student will develop skills in teamwork and scientific communication as the researchers within the team work closely together. The position will appeal to candidates with a strong interest in the synthesis of new materials and catalysis.

This is a multi-disciplinary PhD that sits at the interface between Chemistry, Materials Science and Manufacturing. The student will be based in the state-of-the-art laboratories of the Materials Innovation Factory ( at the University of Liverpool, as part of a larger project involving teams at University of Oxford and in industry. The MIF is not only home to outstanding University research facilities but is also the permanent base for many industrial scientists.            

Wider context: This PhD studentship is part of a large project that aims to provide the scientific foundation that will allow the UK consumer chemical sector to become sustainable and carbon neutral. The consumer chemical industry makes products that go into cosmetics, vitamins and health supplements, soaps, detergents, household chemicals, perfumes and foods. While some steps have already been taken to make this sector more sustainable, the use of virgin petrochemicals and other non-sustainable and/or polluting feedstocks remains prevalent. The project will develop routes to synthesise (and recycle) feedstock chemicals that do not depend on virgin petrochemicals. These new materials will not only need to be sustainable and carbon neutral, they also need to offer high performance, be cost effective to produce in bulk quantities and must not have long-term persistence in the environment after use. This will require new catalysts and catalytic processes. 

Funding Notes

The Studentship is funded by the EPSRC as part of a business-led research collaboration between leading UK businesses and their long-term strategic University partners. The eligibility details of both are below.
EPSRC eligibility
Applications from candidates meeting the eligibility requirements of the EPSRC are welcome – please refer to the EPSRC website..
The award will pay full tuition fees and a maintenance grant for 3.5 years. The maintenance grant is £15,609 pa for 2021/22, with the possibility of an increase for 2022/23.
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