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Novel magneto-thermal catalysts for CO2 hydrogenation

   Robinson Research Institute

   Tuesday, January 30, 2024  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

The project

A circular CO2 economy requires the capture and conversion of carbon dioxide into useful products and materials. But this is complicated by the high chemical stability of carbon dioxide. One promising approach is catalytic hydrogenation of CO2 to small organic molecules such as methane or methanol, which can then be used as precursors for more complex large molecules and polymers. However, CO2 hydrogenation typically requires high temperatures in order to provide sufficient energy to initiate the reaction. The very high energy costs associated with heating input and output flows mean that this approach is not presently economically feasible.

This PhD project will investigate a new approach to catalytic CO2 hydrogenation, using novel magneto-thermal core-shell catalyst micro/nanoparticles. These ferromagnetic particles undergo localised rapid heating in an oscillating magnetic field, delivering energy solely to the reaction site and at a fixed temperature determined by the Curie Temperature of the core material. This approach could substantially decrease the energy demand of the hydrogenation process, as heat does not dissipate throughout the wider reactor. It also provides the potential for improved selectivity and a decrease in parasitic side-reactions.

For this project, you will synthesise a range of novel catalyst particles, and characterise their magneto-thermal behaviour. A benchtop reactor system will then established to test the CO2-hydrogenation performance of these catalysts under continuous flow operation. This project is funded through the MacDiarmid Institute [1], New Zealand’s Centre of Research Excellence for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology. The student will be based and enrolled at Victoria University of Wellington [2] under the primary supervision of Dr. Chris Bumby. The student will also collaborate with key partner investigators at the University of Auckland [3] and GNS science [4], as well as the wider MacDiarmid Institute.


You should hold a degree equivalent to an MSc/MEng or a 1st class Honours (4-year) degree in New Zealand, in Chemical Engineering/Chemistry, Physics, Materials Science or a similar discipline. Previous laboratory experience in materials synthesis or gas phase catalysis could be advantageous. You should satisfy the requirements for admission as a PhD candidate at Victoria University of Wellington [5].

How to apply

To apply, please send your CV, academic record, and the names and contact details of two referees to: Dr Chris Bumby ().

Funding Notes

This scholarship will include all tuition fees and a stipend of $35,000NZD p.a. (tax-free) for 3 years.



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