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  PhD in Chemistry: Design, Synthesis and Characterisation of Heterogeneous Catalysts for Selective Hydrogenation Reactions

   Cardiff School of Chemistry

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  Prof G J Hutchings, Prof S Taylor, Dr Nicholas Dummer  Applications accepted all year round  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project


An opportunity has emerged to conduct an industrially led PhD project in a world leading research team at a state-of-the-art research facility (TRH - Cardiff University). The project will be part of the Max Planck-Cardiff Centre on the Fundamentals of Heterogeneous Catalysis based in Cardiff.


Catalysis is of critical importance to modern society: over 90% of all manufactured chemicals benefit from the use of a catalyst and the associated economic impact is estimated to be more than 30% global GDP. Catalysts function by offering alternative pathways for reactions to proceed. In doing so, they can significantly reduce the energy required for chemical transformations to occur. For this reason, the design and synthesis of novel catalysts for chemical processes is of critical importance, as the world transitions towards net zero.

The Project

The project is principally concerned with designing and optimising catalysts for the selective hydrogenation of acetylene. Acetylene is a highly reactive molecule and can be used as a feedstock for future sustainable chemistry, through its production from biogas. A vast array of products can be formed from acetylene and many of these are operated at commercial scale due to their high demand. Selective hydrogenation of acetylene to produce ethylene whilst avoiding further hydrogenation to ethane is a key interest of BASF. Here the project will address novel catalyst formulations to carry out this important reaction in collaboration with our industrial partner BASF. The project will involve opportunities to visit and work with our academic collaborators in other Max Planck centres, particularly in the MPI Kohlenforschung in Mulheim, Germany. Central to the project will be the development, characterisation and testing of colloidal silver-palladium catalysts that are active for this selective hydrogenation reaction.

Research Environment and Training

The project will be based at the Translation Research Hub: a new, custom built research facility for cutting edge research and home of the Cardiff Catalysis Institute. The successful candidate will benefit from being part of a diverse and inclusive student cohort working on catalysis, where you will receive training in research methods through a journal club, webinars, industrial site visits and training in intellectual property. You will be encouraged to present your research at international meetings and participate at outreach events with the general public.

Furthermore, the candidate will receive comprehensive training across all aspects of catalyst synthesis, characterization, and testing. Furthermore, the student will be part of the Max Planck Centre and thus, be able to use the facilities of our project partners in Germany at the MPI Kohlenforschung in Mulheim in addition to accessing the facilities of the UK Catalysis Hub at Harwell.


Professor Graham Hutchings - People - Cardiff University

Professor Stuart Taylor - People - Cardiff University

Dr Nicholas Dummer - People - Cardiff University

Start date: 1st October 2023

Academic criteria

Candidates should hold or expect to gain a first class degree or a good 2.1 and/or an appropriate Master’s level qualification (or their equivalent). 

Applicants whose first language is not English will be required to demonstrate proficiency in the English language (IELTS 6.5 or equivalent). For more details on our English Language requirements - English language requirements for postgraduate students - Study - Cardiff University

How to Apply

Please contact Dr Dummer for informal enquiries.

Please complete an online application, stating your supervisor’s name and project title, to apply for this post Chemistry - Study - Cardiff University

We reserve the right to close to this advert if sufficient applications are received. Early application is advised

Cardiff University is committed to supporting and promoting equality and diversity and to creating an inclusive environment for all. We welcome applications from all members of the global community irrespective of age, disability, sex, gender identity, gender reassignment, marital or civil partnership status, pregnancy or maternity, race, religion or belief and sexual orientation.

Chemistry (6)

Funding Notes

This is 3.5 year funded PhD with UK level tuition fees and UKRI level stipend funded by BASF.
This studentship is open to Home, EU or Overseas Candidates. However, Overseas and EU candidates should note that they will be required to cover the difference between Home and Overseas/EU fees each year.

How good is research at Cardiff University in Chemistry?

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

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