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Sustainable development of cutting-edge porous sorbents for gas separation

   School of Engineering

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  Dr C Fernandez-Martin, Dr Ines Graca, Dr Alan McCue  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Developing cost-effective and sustainable porous adsorbents aiming at separating impurities and main constituents from different gas mixtures is a real and necessary challenge for the industry, especially the energy sector.

Reducing the financial and environmental costs of the adsorbents and the associated application in gas separation processes are the driving forces that justify the development of new materials with the specific characteristics required for these applications, as well as further research aimed at improving the process effectiveness. The adsorption of gaseous species on the surface of more efficient, enhanced-capacity materials and their regeneration at moderate temperatures, would be a cost-effective gas separation technology.
Nevertheless, forces of interaction adsorbate-adsorbent, as well as the key parameters that determine the success of these separations, such as the comparative effects of porous texture and surface chemistry, especially under the presence of water and other impurities, are yet to be further explored, impeding the optimization of the materials characteristics and processes conditions to be used in a cost-competitive industrial approach.

This project will face the global challenge of reducing GHG emissions (e.g. CO2, CH4) and the impacts of energy and materials production. The research candidate will synthetize/modify/develop advanced sorbents of different nature (i.e. zeolites, porous silicas, MOFs), aiming to separate undesired species and/or impurities from industrial gas mixtures (i.e. CH4, CO2). The latter will involve the green synthesis of materials, surface and structural modification, characterisation, evaluation of gas uptakes at equilibrium and dynamic conditions, adsorption selectivity determination, study adsorption-desorption kinetics, among other characterisation techniques.

Applicants who would like to suggest a specific innovative idea within the scope of this project are welcome and encouraged. For the later, a brief and concise description of the idea (maximum 1-2 page) should be submitted as part of the application.

Candidates should have (or expect to achieve) a UK honours degree at 2.1 or above (or equivalent) in Chemical Engineering or any related discipline, such as BSc in Chemistry, Materials Science.

Essential background:
Chemical Engineering, Materials Science, Chemical Sciences, Physical Sciences, Chemistry, Physical Chemistry, Environmental Engineering, Renewable Energy Engineering, Gas Separation Processes, Adsorption, Mass and Energy Balances

Knowledge of:
Materials synthesis, materials surface modification, materials characterisation: namely N2 sorption to determine textural characterisation (BET, micropore volume, total pore volume, average pore diameter…), gas chromatography (product analysis and quantification), FTIR, XRD, TGA, porosimeter, etc, organic chemistry, physical chemistry, reactor design and kinetics/reactor dynamics, thermodynamics and heat transfer, gas separation processes, adsorption principles, kinetics of adsorption and desorption, etc.
Microsoft Office package (specially Excel, Word, Power Point).
The knowledge of any other software such as Matlab, Aspen Hysys (Adsorption) will be valuable.


• Apply for Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Engineering
• State name of the lead supervisor as the Name of Proposed Supervisor
• State ‘Self-funded’ as Intended Source of Funding
• State the exact project title on the application form

When applying please ensure all required documents are attached:

• All degree certificates and transcripts (Undergraduate AND Postgraduate MSc-officially translated into English where necessary)
• Detailed CV

Informal inquiries can be made to Dr C Fernandez-Martin ([Email Address Removed]), with a copy of your curriculum vitae and cover letter. All general enquiries should be directed to the Postgraduate Research School ([Email Address Removed])

Funding Notes

This project is advertised in relation to the research areas of the discipline of Chemical Engineering. The successful applicant will be expected to provide the funding for Tuition fees, living expenses and maintenance along with Additional Research costs of £1,300-£1,500 per annum. Details of the cost of study can be found by visiting THERE IS NO FUNDING ATTACHED TO THIS PROJECT.


1] Martin, CF, Stockel, E, Clowes, R, Adams, DJ, Cooper, AI, Pis, JJ, Rubiera, F & Pevida, C 2011, 'Hypercrosslinked organic polymer networks as potential adsorbents for pre-combustion CO2 capture', Journal of Materials Chemistry, vol. 21, no. 14, pp. 5475-5483.
[2] Martin, CF, Plaza, MG, Garcia, S, Pis, JJ, Rubiera, F & Pevida, C 2011, 'Microporous phenol-formaldehyde resin-based adsorbents for pre-combustion CO2 capture', Fuel, vol. 90, no. 5, pp. 2064-2072.
[3] Martin, CF, Sweatman, MB, Brandani, S & Fan, X 2016, 'Wet impregnation of a commercial low cost silica using DETA for a fast post-combustion CO2 capture process', Applied Energy, vol. 183, pp. 1705-1721.
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