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PhD in Chemistry - The development of kinetic models for phosgene synthesis over heterogeneous catalysts

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Thursday, April 30, 2020
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Phosgene is an important intermediate used in the industrial manufacture of polyurethanes, polycarbonates, pharmaceuticals and agrochemicals. It is typically manufactured industrially via the gas phase reaction between carbon monoxide and chlorine over an activated carbon catalyst.

The reaction is strongly exothermic (∆H=-107.6 kJ mol-1). Despite wide industrial application, there are surprisingly few laboratory studies of phosgene synthesis catalysis reported in the literature.

The project, commencing in October 2020, will utilise a unique experimental facility that is housed in the School of Chemistry’s Chemical Process Fundamentals Laboratory, which is designed to handle the hazardous reagents associated with the production of phosgene [1-3]. A major thrust of the workplan involves determining kinetic models for the synthesis of phosgene over a series of high surface area carbon-based catalysts. Product and reagent analysis will be undertaken using a combination of infrared spectroscopy, UV-visible spectroscopy and mass spectrometry. Product selectivity will be monitored under a variety of reaction conditions in order to determine optimum operating arrangements for particular catalyst formulations.

A secondary goal of the project will be to develop a series of characterisation parameters that can be used to define the surface structure and surface chemistry of the carbon catalysts. This will include the use of inelastic neutron scattering measurements [4], which will be undertaken at the ISIS Facility that is located at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory [5]. The student will be expected to occasionally spend time at the ISIS Facility (ca. 10 days per year). Collectively, the project will provide the student with a sound grounding in the development of industrially relevant heterogeneously catalysed reaction systems, as well as experience in modern catalyst characterisation techniques.

It is the University of Glasgow’s mission to foster an inclusive climate, which ensures equality in our working, learning, research and teaching environment.

We strongly endorse the principles of Athena SWAN, including a supportive and flexible working environment, with commitment from all levels of the organisation in promoting gender equality.

As an Athena SWAN Bronze Award holder, the School of Chemistry has equality, diversity and inclusion at its heart, and actively supports applications from all sections of society.

More details of the School’s Athena SWAN activities can be found here:

How to Apply: Please refer to the following website for details on how to apply:

Funding Notes

Funding is available to cover tuition fees for UK/EU applicants for 3.5 years, as well as paying a stipend at the Research Council rate (currently £15,245 for Session 2020-21).


[1] S Guan et al., Faraday Discussions (Designing Nano-particulate Systems for Catalysis), 208 (2018) 67; [2] S. Guan et al., Faraday Discussions (Reaction Mechanisms in Catalysis), DOI: 10.1039/D0FD00014K; [3] G.E. Rossi et al., Applied Catalysis A: General, DOI: 10.1016/j.apcata.2020.117467; [4] S.F. Parker et al., Applied Spectroscopy, 65 (2011) 1325; [5]

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