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Hydrogen Free Selective Hydrogenation over Supported Gold Catalysts

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

This PhD project forms part of a larger research project in collaboration with Professor Mark Keane (Chemical Engineering, Heriot Watt University). Gold can be used as a highly selective catalyst for hydrogenation reactions, but typically the rate of hydrogenation is slow due to the difficulty in dissociating the H-H bond over Au. This project aims to supply atomic hydrogen to supported Au nanoparticles via the dehydrogenation of an alcohol feedstock (e.g. butanol) in order to selectively hydrogenate aldehydes (e.g. furfural). Initial findings are that the supply of atomic hydrogen via coupled reactions leads to a large increase in the rate of aldehyde hydrogenation. In addition, this methodology removes the requirement to use high pressures of H2 to carry out the hydrogenation reaction. The role of the PhD student will be to fabricate and characterise Cu/Au bimetallic surfaces; to investigate the reaction mechanism over Cu/Au bimetallic model catalysts and to examine the effect of changing the oxide support on catalyst performance. The student will be trained in a number of characterisation techniques including scanning tunnelling microscopy (STM), reflection absorption infrared spectroscopy (RAIRS), temperature programmed desorption (TPD) and medium energy ion scattering (MEIS).

Funding Notes

UK/EU students with upper second class degree in Chemistry or Chemical Physics or equivalent qualification.

Students interested in undertaking a PhD in this research area should register their interest as soon as possible. Informal enquiries can be made to Dr Chris Baddeley ()

Potential applicants are welcome to arrange to visit St Andrews at any time.
Please note our Postgraduate Open Day which will be held on Friday February 12th 2016.
Please see:View Website for the application procedure or e-mail
for more information


[1] F. Cardenas-Lizana, S. Gomez-Quero, C.J. Baddeley, M.A. Keane, Applied Catalysis a-General 387 (2010) 155-165.
[2] F. Cardenas-Lizana, M.A. Keane, Journal of Materials Science 48 (2013) 543-564.
[3] J. Gustafson, A.R. Haire, C.J. Baddeley, Surface Science 605 (2011) 220-224.
[4] A. Murdoch, A.G. Trant, J. Gustafson, T.E. Jones, T.C.Q. Noakes, P. Bailey, C.J. Baddeley, Surface Science 608 (2013) 212-219.

How good is research at University of St Andrews in Chemistry?
(joint submission with University of Edinburgh)

FTE Category A staff submitted: 37.30

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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