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PhD Studentship in Geoscience: Mineral defects – the key to unlocking sustainable nitrogen and carbon fixation?

   School of Natural and Environmental Sciences

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  Dr J Telling  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project


Interested in exploring novel methods to generate sustainable chemicals for industry and agriculture? This PhD will use insight and inspiration from the chemistry of natural environments where mineral abrasion and crushing takes place (e.g. along geological faults, beneath glaciers, and the surface of wind-blown deserts) to develop new methods for the energy efficient production of ammonia and organic molecules.

There is a growing need within the UK and globally to move away from fossil fuels and develop more sustainable methods for generating ammonia and organic molecules for agriculture and industry. One promising pathway for both is to use hydrogen, derived from the splitting of water, to react either with nitrogen gas (to generate ammonia; the Haber Bosch process), or carbon dioxide (to generate organic molecules such as carboxylic acids). Both processes require metal-containing catalysts, and currently require high temperatures (and hence high energy costs) to generate sufficient yields.

The studentship will target the largely unexplored potential of low energy mechanically induced defects on metal and mineral catalysts for increasing yields of industrially relevant CO2 and N2 fixation reactions at low temperatures.

You will receive training and gain skills in experimental design (including pressurised flow through reactors), chemical analysis, and modelling.

Number Of Awards


Start Date

18th September 2023

Award Duration

3.5 years


Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)


Dr Jon Telling (School of Natural and Environmental SciencesNewcastle University)

Eligibility Criteria

You must have, or expect to gain, a minimum 2:1 Honours degree or international equivalent, or a Master’s degree, in a relevant science subject (e.g. Earth Sciences, Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, Environmental Sciences, or similar). Enthusiasm for research, the ability to think and work independently, excellent analytical skills and strong verbal and written communication skills are also essential requirements.

Home and international applicants (inc. EU) are welcome to apply and if successful will receive a full studentship. Applicants whose first language is not English require an IELTS score of 6.5 overall with a minimum of 5.5 in all sub-skills.

For international students, ATAS clearance may be required.

How To Apply

You must apply through the University’s Apply to Newcastle Portal 

Once registered select ‘Create a Postgraduate Application’.  

Use ‘Course Search’ to identify your programme of study:  

  • search for the ‘Course Title’ using the programme code: 8314F
  • select ‘PhD Geoscience (FT)’ as the programme of study 

You will then need to provide the following information in the ‘Further Questions’ section:  

  • a ‘Personal Statement’ (this is a mandatory field) - upload a document or write a statement directly in to the application form  
  • the studentship code SNES247 in the ‘Studentship/Partnership Reference’ field  
  • when prompted for how you are providing your research proposal - select ‘Write Proposal’. You should then type in the title of the research project from this advert. You do not need to upload a research proposal. 

Contact Details

Dr Jon Telling: [Email Address Removed]

Funding Notes

100% of fees covered, and a minimum tax-free annual living allowance of £17,668 (2022-23 UKRI rate).
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