Photocatalysis for Energy Applications

   Department of Chemical & Biological Engineering

  ,  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

The energy production has become a growing concern in recent times with over 80% of the global energy consumption relying on the use of fossil fuels. This leads to several problems: first, fossil energy sources are rapidly depleting; second, extensive use of fossil fuels results in serious environmental issues such as the global warming. Hydrogen represents a potential alternative energy carrier due to its high efficiency and zero-emission operations. For this reason, many research activities are currently directed toward the utilization of semiconductor photocatalysts, to harvest the renewable solar energy and produce hydrogen. However, conventional photocatalysts present several problems, such as high electron-hole recombination and poor absorption of visible light, which lead to low efficiencies. This project aims at developing a novel approach to rationally design photocatalytic systems based on the combination of the following computational and experimental activities: 

1. We will generate a library of photocatalysts by conducting DFT calculations to estimate the band gaps of the catalytic materials and the adsorption energies of co-catalyst species. 

2. Microkinetic models are powerful tools to unravel the intrinsic kinetics of complex reacting systems. We will build a detailed microkinetic model to describe the kinetics of hydrogen production over different photocatalysts. The kinetic parameters governing the process will be informed by the first-principle calculations conducted in Task 1. 

3. The most promising photocatalysts will be synthesized, characterized and experimentally tested in a lab scale reactor to evaluate the hydrogen production rate and the conversion of organics under a range of operating conditions.

The PGR student will work between the Departments of Chemical and Biological Engineering (CBE) and Chemistry of The University of Sheffield under the supervision of Dr. Sergio Vernuccio and Dr. Natalia Martsinovich. For informal enquiries about this role and recruiting contact Dr. Vernuccio on or Dr. Martsinovich on .

This is a multidisciplinary project involving catalysis, reaction engineering and kinetic analyses. The successful candidate will benefit from a top-level research environment, as well as acquire skills at the interface between chemistry and chemical engineering. The applicant will join a vibrant and well-established research group that is interested in the discovery and design of novel catalytic materials that address fundamental challenges in the chemical, environmental and energy landscape.

Please see this link for information on how to apply: Please include the name of your proposed supervisor and the title of the PhD project within your application.

The ideal candidate will have a 1st class or 2nd upper class degree in chemical engineering, chemistry, process engineering, industrial chemistry, material sciences or related disciplines, experience in cross-disciplinary work, excellent computational and laboratory skills and a hands-on approach to problem solving. The successful candidate will benefit from a top-level research environment, as well as acquire skills at the interface between catalysis and reaction engineering, that are in high demand in both industry and academia. We are looking for highly motivated, committed, and creative individuals, able to work in a team and with excellent communication skills. If English is not your first language then you must have an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) average of 6.5 or above with at least 6.0 in each component, or equivalent. Please see this link for further information:

Chemistry (6) Engineering (12) Materials Science (24)

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