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Studies of deactivation of industrial catalysts


Department of Chemical Engineering & Analytical Science

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Prof P A Martin , Prof S Holmes No more applications being accepted Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

The Department of Chemical Engineering and Analytical Science is seeking a highly motivated graduate to undertake an exciting four-year EPSRC industrial CASE PhD project entitled “Operando Studies of Zeolite Active Sites and Their Interactions with Deactivating Coke Species Using Pioneering Vibrational Spectroscopic Techniques”.

This industrial CASE project is a collaboration between the University of Manchester and BP Chemicals, a world leader in petrochemicals manufacturing and technology. The PhD student will be provided with a first-rate, challenging research training experience, within the context of a mutually beneficial research collaboration between academic and industrial partners. Industrial CASE provides outstanding students access to training, facilities and expertise not available in an academic setting alone. Students benefit from a diversity of experimental approaches with an applied / translational dimension. Students have an opportunity to develop a range of valuable skills and significantly enhance their future employability; many will become research leaders of the future.

Applicants should have or expect to achieve at least a 2.1 honours degree in chemistry, chemical engineering or related discipline.
Project Summary

The aim of this research is to further the fundamental understanding of BP’s pioneering SaaBre™ technology, a new route for production of acetic acid from syngas. The formation and deposition of undesirable carbonaceous species, or “coke”, on the surface of zeolites is one of the most significant causes of catalyst deactivation. An improved understanding of the fundamental mechanisms of coking is key to mitigating its deleterious effects.

Therefore, this project aims to perform an operando study on the fundamental nature of active sites in zeolite-based catalysts. Designing and building a bespoke test cell and coupling with advanced FTIR and Raman microscopy instrumentation will unlock new information on how these active sites interact with key probe molecules, such as reactants, promoters and coke precursors.


Industrial Placement

This project also includes the opportunity of a three -moth industrial placement at BP Chemicals Hull, the European centre for petrochemicals manufacturing and the largest producer of acetic acid and acetic anhydride in Europe. Hull also hosts one of BP’s principal global research centres for petrochemicals technology and research, as well as part of BP’s Centre of Expertise in Applied Chemistry and Physics. Here you will gain experience working with a diverse team of experts in the field of analytical sciences working in a pioneering multi-disciplinary industrial environment. You will also learn how your research may be used in a real world setting to generate value for BP.

Funding Notes

Funding for this PhD is offered through an EPSRC Industrial CASE Studentship.

Due to funding restrictions, the full studentship is only available to students from the UK or EU who have been normally resident in the UK for at least 3 years. For further information about eligibility, please see: https://epsrc.ukri.org/skills/students/guidance-on-epsrc-studentships/eligibility/.




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