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Understanding Catalyst Evolution through In Situ XPS

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  • Full or part time
    Dr Alex Walton
    Prof Christopher Hardacre
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Catalysts provide a vital route to enabling new chemical reactions and reducing the energy requirements of a huge range of industrial processes. The Fischer-Tropsch (FT) process is a catalytic reaction which produces hydrocarbon fuel from a variety of feedstocks including obtained environmentally sustainable sources such as biomass and municipal solid waste.[1] Mixed metal nanoparticle catalysts have been proposed as a route to reduce energy consumption but little is known about how these work to change the products due to the difficulty of characterising the reaction under realistic conditions.
In this project you will be one of only a few phD students able to use a new cutting-edge instrument for probing the chemistry of surfaces. This near ambient pressure (NAP) X-Ray Photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) instrument is one of the most powerful probes of surface chemistry available, and has been modified to allow analysis to be performed in presence of gases, so heterogeneous catalysts can be studied during operation [2]. Until recently such testing could only be performed before and after reactions in high vacuum.
In this PhD you will work with BP mentors to study a new generation of FT catalysts in order to optimise their performance. Working as part of a multidisciplinary team you will benefit from integration with BP International Centre for Advanced Materials (ICAM) based in Manchester and the world leading instrumentation in the Royce Institute. This will provide access to complementary characterisation depending on the interests of the student. You will also have the opportunity to spend time working at BP’s R&D facilities if required. There will be extensive opportunities for international travel, both to attend international conferences and to perform experiments at synchrotron facilities.

Applicants are expected to hold, or about to obtain, a minimum upper second class undergraduate degree (or equivalent) in Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, Physics or a related discipline. A Masters degree is desirable.

Contact for further Information:
Alex Walton
[Email Address Removed]

Funding Notes

This is a 4 year funded PhD studentship which will cover fees and stipend (£15,009 in 2019-20).

Eligibility is restricted to UK/EU applicants with 3 years residency in the UK.

The expected start date will be September 2019.


1. ChemCatChem 2018, 10, (19), 4238


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