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Sustainable Hydrogen Production Through Photoreforming of Organics Under Visible Light Radiation


   Department of Chemical & Biological Engineering


Sheffield United Kingdom Chemical Engineering Industrial Chemistry Chemistry Materials Science

About the Project

As of 2020, the majority of hydrogen (∼95%) is produced from fossil fuels. This leads to several problems: first, the fossil energies are decreasing strongly; second, the use of the fossil fuels results in several environmental problems such as greenhouse effect and global warming.

To overcome these drawbacks, novel processes need to be designed to produce hydrogen – as a clean source of energy – from renewable sources. In particular, solar energy, as a clean and inexhaustible source, has received growing attention in the past decades. Photoreforming of organics represents an elegant and fascinating way to convert solar energy into chemical energy - in the form of renewable hydrogen - using materials called photocatalysts. However, conventional photocatalysts such as titanium dioxide (TiO2), are usually not efficient, especially for their nonvisible light driven ability.   

This project aims at identifying novel photocatalysts for hydrogen production that can efficiently work under visible light radiations. We will achieve this challenging goal through a combination of experimental and computational techniques directed towards discovery and characterization of a novel class of photocatalytic materials.

Success of this project will provide the scientific community with optimized catalytic systems for production of hydrogen from organics and with a promising technology to address environmental crises and energy shortage. Our focus on sustainable hydrogen production will have a wider societal impact on the understanding and perceptions of the public. Immediate societal benefits will be targeted by using our methodology to illuminate alternative approaches to produce energy and address environmental issues.

This is a multidisciplinary project involving reaction engineering and first-principle kinetic analyses. The successful candidate will benefit from a top-level research environment, as well as acquire skills at the interface between catalysis and microkinetic modelling. We will offer advanced trainings on heterogeneous reaction engineering, microkinetic modelling and DFT software (e.g. VASP, CASTEP, Gaussian09).

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. 

Sustainable applications of catalysis are currently in high demand in both industry and academia. The area of photocatalysis has been growing during the past years to become one of the most prospective technology in the fields of sustainable hydrogen production.

The successful student will have access to the University of Sheffield laboratories and to the High Performance Computing (HPC) clusters (ShARC and Bessemer). Our group has access to VASP, CASTEP and Gaussian09 for quantum calculations, NetGen and RMG for kinetic network generation. The necessary infrastructure (office space, laboratory, computational resources, etc.) will be available for the duration of the proposed fellowship. 

Please see this link for information on how to apply: https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/cbe/postgraduate/phd/how-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, process engineering, chemistry, industrial chemistry, material sciences or related disciplines, experience in cross-disciplinary work, excellent laboratory and computational 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: https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/postgraduate/phd/apply/english-language.


Funding Notes

Please see this link for further information on the scholarships available: View Website.

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