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Metal–organic frameworks with open-metal sites for energy-efficient separation of hydrocarbons

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

Hydrocarbons (e.g. C1 to C3 light hydrocarbons from natural gas) are very important sources of fuels (e.g. methane as fuel for domestic, industrial heating and vehicle transportation) and raw chemicals (e.g. ethylene and propylene as chemical feedstocsk for the production of polymers such as polyester, polystyrene and etc). High purity of light hydrocarbons is usually essential for industrial processes, for example, the polymerisation reactions need feedstocks of ethylene and propylene with the 99.5%+ purity levels. The traditional separation processes depend mainly on vapor pressures and thus boiling points of these gases, such as the cryogenic distillation, which is always associated with is very high energy costs. Therefore, highly efficient, cost-effective and non-energy intensive separation processes are demanded to meeting requirements of production of various light hydrocarbons.

Metal-organic frameworks (MOFs), as versatile and promising adsorbents, have attracted much attention for gas adsorption/separation (e.g. CO2 capture) due to the high adsorption capacity, tremendous specific surface area and tuneable structure. Coordinatively unsaturated divalent metal cations (or open metal sites, OMSs) in certain MOFs, e.g. unsaturated copper centers Cu2+ in CuBTC MOF, have been recognised as the attractive features for attracting small gas molecules. These OMSs render an exceptionally high surface density (e.g. ∼3 OMSs per 100 Å) leading to particularly high separation capacities. Therefore, the adsorptive separation based on MOFs with OMSs may be a promising alternative approach to address the challenge.

In this project, we will focus on investigating the separation of light hydrocarbons using MOFs with OMSs (e.g. alkane/alkene separation) to understand the behavior of hydrocarbon molecules within these porous materials using a combined experimental and molecular simulation approach.

If you wish to apply for this project, please choose ’PhD Chemical Engineering and Analytical Science’ from the list of available programmes.

Funding Notes

This research project is one of a number of projects in the School. It is in competition for funding with other projects or available for self/externally funded students. Additional funding is potentially available for candidates with a strong research background (eg. track record of high-quality publications in international academic journals).

UK/EU applicants should have or expect to achieve at least a 2.1 honours degree in Chemical Engineering or Chemistry.

Overseas applicants are expected to be graduates (Chemical Engineering or Chemistry) from top national ranked universities (prefer top 100 world ranked universities) with excellent GPA and strong publications at masters level.


How good is research at University of Manchester in Aeronautical, Mechanical, Chemical and Manufacturing Engineering?
Chemical Engineering

FTE Category A staff submitted: 33.90

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

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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