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PhD in Chemistry: Tracking the source and history of methane using novel isotope systems

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Tuesday, October 01, 2019
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Despite the obvious importance of methane (CH4, natural gas), and decades of study, we still have little understanding of how and when it forms in sedimentary source rocks, what drives it into reservoir rocks, and what happens along the way to make the deposits economic or not. The analysis of conventional stable isotopes (d13C and dD) provides first order constraints on the origin of natural gas, but we are still far from having a complete knowledge of methane geochemistry in order to be able to provide insight into, for example, resource identification and exploitation.
The clumped isotope composition of natural methane holds great potential to refine the temperature of formation, and to distinguish biogenic and thermogenic production mechanisms. This PhD project has two broad aims:
+ to develop techniques for the routine high precision measurement of methane isotopologues in samples of natural gas using the Ultra 253 mass spectrometer (6-12 months).
+ to apply the technique to determining the origin and history of coal-bed methane from UK and China that have previously been characterised by conventional stable isotopes and noble gas isotopes (12-18 months).
The student will join the new Clumped Isotope research group led by Dr. Clog, and will integrate into Prof. Stuart’s gas geochemistry group. Dr. Clogg will lead the project, concentrating on technique development and measurements. Prof. Stuart will supervise fieldwork and data interpretation. The student will work closely with co-supervisor Mr. Doug Hamilton (ThermoFisher Scientific; 10% allocation) in the initial year of technique development and refining the existing analytical protocols. The student will benefit from the research group’s strong links to other industrial partners (Total, Petrobras) and academic collaborators in GES at UGlasgow and School of GeoScience at UEdinburgh.
We are seeking dynamic candidates with strong background in Physics, Chemistry or Earth Science. The student must be mathematically competent and preferably have experience of working with analytical equipment.
The project is funded by ThermoFisher Scientific, University of Glasgow and SUERC. It will be based at the Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre (SUERC) in East Kilbride, Scotland ( The student will be a member of the College Science & Engineering, University of Glasgow Graduate School Details on how to apply for this project are available here:

Funding Notes

Funding is available to cover tuition fees for all applicants for 3.5 years, as well as paying a stipend at the Research Council rate (estimated £15,009 for 2019-20).

We are seeking highly motivated candidates with a minimum of a 2.1 in Physics, Chemistry or Earth Sciences.

How good is research at University of Glasgow in Chemistry?
(joint submission with University of Strathclyde)

FTE Category A staff submitted: 30.80

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

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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