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Understanding failure mechanisms in low temperature water gas shift catalysts

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Saturday, August 31, 2019
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

UCL Chemistry is offering a fully funded studentship to a highly motivated candidate to start as soon as possible. The studentship will cover tuition fees at UK/EU rate plus a maintenance stipend (tax free) for three years.
The project will be in collaboration with Yara international are a global supplier/manufacturer of ammonia and fertilizers. The student will carry out his/ her doctoral research at the Research Complex at Harwell, Oxfordshire but where required will also conduct some of the project at the industrial sponsor’s site in Porsgrunn, Norway.
This exciting project will make use of state-of-the-art advanced characterisation methods applied under in situ conditions to understand the process/processes by which copper zinc oxide catalysts fail under water gas shift reaction conditions. This it will do by using novel characterisation techniques such as X-ray diffraction computed tomography and X-ray chemical imaging applied under operando conditions (including high temperatures and pressures) to follow the evolution of an active state into an inactive one. Complementary studies will also be performed using in situ TEM and optical spectroscopic techniques such as IR, Raman and UV-Vis. A particular focus for the project will be to examine the impact of alkali metal promoters and their ability to promote water condensation at the catalyst surface that leads to copper sintering. Any insight into the failure mechanism will allow for re-formulation of the catalysts or else to control the composition of the inlet gas to mitigate the sintering process and to effect a longer term of operation. The impact of these findings could therefore be substantial and on a global scale.
Interested candidates should contact Prof. Andrew M. Beale () with a degree transcript and a motivation letter expressing interest in this project. Informal inquiries are encouraged.

Applications will be accepted until 31 August 2019 but the position will be filled as soon as a suitable candidate has been identified.

Funding Notes

The applicants should have, or be expecting to achieve, a first or upper second class Honours degree or equivalent in physics, chemistry or related subject ideally with some experience of heterogeneous catalysis, molecular or solid-state chemistry and/or X-ray/optical spectroscopy methods.

Due to funding restrictions, this studentship is only open to applicants from the UK and EU, who have been resident in the UK for at least 3 years preceding their start on the programme or have indefinite leave to remain in the UK.

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