PhD studentship, Multi-scale, multi-modal imaging of nanoporous catalysts

University of Nottingham - Mechanical Materials & Manuf Eng

Location: University Park
University of Nottingham - Faculty of Engineering
PhD studentship, Multi-scale, multi-modal imaging of nanoporous catalysts

Applications are invited for a PhD studentship in the area of improving the design of new industrial catalysts using a combination of state-of-the-art imaging techniques and pore structure characterisation methods. The project will combine computerised x-ray tomography (CXT), dual-beam electron microscopy, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to study the structure of nanoporous heterogeneous catalysts, over length-scales from millimetres to nanometres, and transport processes within the nanostructure. The project will employ novel MRI methods using hyperpolarised gases to study diffusion. The project thus offers the potential to gain expertise in a range of modern imaging and pore structure characterisation methods, and also an insight into catalyst design.

Heterogeneous catalysis is a key sector of British high-end manufacturing. Maintaining competitiveness of the British catalyst industry requires the continued development of ever higher-performance products, delivering improved catalytic activity and chemical selectivity. For products catalysing diffusion-limited reaction systems, increasing the pellet effectiveness factor is key to delivering improved performance. This requires a detailed understanding of the factors in pellet pore structure that limit mass transport, and the parameters in the manufacturing process that produce these particular pore structure features. This project will consider the relationship between pellet forming processes, and pellet transport properties, as mediated by the pellet structural characteristics that a particular set of forming conditions produce. It will consider how changing particular parameters of the manufacturing process leads to specific changes in the pellet structure, and determine the impact of those features on the rate of mass transport. The project will thus be run in collaboration with the catalyst company Johnson Matthey, and will potentially include opportunities to work closely with them.

Applicants would be expected to possess at least an upper-second class degree (or equivalent) in chemical engineering, other engineering disciplines, or physical sciences. The studentship will cover PhD tuition fees and a tax free stipend for three years (£14,057 for the 2014-15 academic year). Due to funding restrictions this studentship is only available to UK/EU students.

Informal enquiries may be addressed to Dr Sean P Rigby (Tel: 0115 951 4078 or email: Formal applications must be made on-line through the University website. Please note that applications sent directly to this email address will not be accepted.

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Midlands of England