PhD Studentship - Chemistry Department

Durham University - Chemistry

PhD Studentship - Chemistry Department, Durham University -  October 2017

Project title: Cascade Conversion of Biomass Platform Chemicals with Multifunctional Zeolitic Materials

Supervisor: Dr Russell A Taylor

Period of studentship: 39 months

Funding: Due to the nature of the funding this studentship is only valid for UK applicants

Background: Zeolites, as solid Brönsted acid catalysts, have been an integral part of petrochemical conversion processes since the 1960s. Acidic zeolites will play an important role in the biorefineries of the future, however the high oxygen content of bio-derived feedstocks makes them amenable to both Brönsted acid, Lewis acid and base catalysed reactions, providing diverse but complementary conversion pathways. Single, multifunctional catalysts that can effect multi-step reactions are desirable as they could improve process efficiencies. However, controlling the distribution of disparate catalytic functions remains a fundamental challenge.

Project: The aim of the project is to develop well defined, multifunctional, zeolitic materials bearing of Brönsted acid, Lewis acid and basic sites that are able to effect cascade reactions of biomass platform molecules. Elucidating how the nature and location of the differing catalytic components affects the overall catalytic function will provide structure function models for future catalyst design. The location of the disparate catalytic functionalities will be controlled via rationalised synthetic approaches such as organometallic grafting. The multistep conversion of selected bio-derived platform molecules, such as ethanol and acetic acid, will be explored using both batch and flow reactors.

Applicants should contact Dr Taylor ( with a covering letter, cv and the names of two suitable referees. Potential applicants are also welcome to contact Dr Taylor with informal enquiries.

Early applications are strongly encouraged. The position will be filled when a suitable candidate is identified.

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Northern England