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PhD in Chemistry: Sustainable Catalysis for Clean Growth: PhD in Single Atom Catalysts for Sustainable Catalysis

   Cardiff School of Chemistry

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  Dr Sankar Meenakshisundaram  Applications accepted all year round  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Catalysis is a key technology for multiple industries and will play a critical role to achieve net zero ambitions. In 2020 bp set a goal of being a net zero company by 2050 or sooner and helping the world get to net zero. Similarly, JM has a sustainability framework that includes reducing their greenhouse gas emissions by 25% by 2025.

This PhD position will be part of a large collaborative project between Cardiff University, The University of Manchester, bp and Johnson Matthey, co-funded by EPSRC and industry. The aim of the project is to develop a platform of new sustainable catalyst technologies that will enable clean growth and a low carbon future. This wide collaborative project will study several catalytic systems (including homogeneous, heterogeneous, biocatalysis, electrocatalysis and plasma catalysis) employing a range of computational and characterisation techniques to develop a fundamental understanding of catalytic mechanisms for the conversion of small bio-based molecules and CO2 into value added chemicals and fuels.

The aim of this PhD research project is to design supported metal (single atoms to sub-nm clusters) catalysts for the conversion of CO2 to useful products. Specifically, the project will focus on understanding the role of particle size on the activity, selectivity and stability of these catalysts for the reaction between CO2 and alkenes in liquid phase. This candidate with work under the supervision of Dr Sankar Meenakshisundaram (Cardiff University) and Prof Chris Hardacre (University of Manchester).

The PhD student will have a co-supervisor from the University of Manchester and two industrial mentors and will have the opportunity to visit the partners’ industrial sites. PhDs will participate in quarterly meetings with the industrial partners and biannual meetings with all the project researchers. The project aims are fundamental and we expect to publish high impact outputs in world leading journals after industrial review. There will be opportunities to undertake experiments at national and international facilities and to present your work at international conferences. The project will be part of bp International Centre for Advanced Materials (bp-ICAM) community and students will receive training through the Integrated Catalysis (iCAT) CDT at Manchester.

Experience in catalyst synthesis, catalyst testing and handling of high pressure reactors are desirable, though not essential as full training will be provided for suitable candidates. Candidates should have a demonstrable interest in heterogeneous catalysis, spectroscopy or closely-related topics.

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)


Dr Sankar Meenakshisundaram 

How to apply

Applications accepted all year.

To apply please complete an online application, stating your supervisor’s name(s).

Start date - October 2022

Funding Notes

3.5 year funded PhD with full stipend and UK tuition fees only
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

Open days

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