PhD Studentship: Industrially funded PhD studentship at the interface of Chemistry and Power Engineering (TOPICS2 project)

University of Southampton - Electronics and Computer Science Department

Supervisor: Prof Richard Brown

Co-supervisor: Prof Paul Lewin

Project description

Applications are invited for a PhD studentship to be filled by October 2017. This scholarship will fund students for their tuition fees (UK/EU rate only), a bursary to cover living expenses (£14,553 per year) and a Research Training Support Grant for research consumables and conference attendance. The successful candidate will divide their time between the Organic Chemistry: Synthesis, Catalysis and Flow research group and the Tony Davies High Voltage Laboratory (TDHVL) within the Electronics and Computer Science Department. TDHVL is one of the premiere high voltage research facilities in Europe, with a long track record of delivering research/innovation projects to industrial clients.  TDHVL and the SCF research group have a history of successful collaboration, on which this project will build.

The PhD position is associated with a wider programme of work, funded by a major UK electricity business.  The project will target the removal of S8 from transformer oil, seeking to find practicable and economic means to achieve this objective, including the potential to apply selective catalysis to oxidise S8 to more easily separable species. The effect of different media, and scavengers can also be explored to remove problematic components such as sulfonic acids. Additionally this work package will pursue means of identifying copper sulphide in situ which were identified in TOPICS1, as well as, other possibilities such as using acoustic microscopy to detect changes on the Cu surface through the oil and paper.

The ideal candidates should have an MChem/MSc (or equivalent) with first class honours or distinction in Organic Chemistry, or a closely related subject.  The candidate will be required to work across disciplines, bringing together knowledge relating to high voltage/power engineering with their expertise in Organic Chemistry.  As the project is industrially funded, candidates will also be expected to demonstrate excellent communication skills, including the ability to clearly and concisely present detailed technical information to the client on a routine basis.

TDHVL and SCF will provide research experience in one of its programs, training, laboratory facilities and access to its seminar and lectures. The students be primarily supervised by Prof Richard Brown of the SCF group, but will be assigned a co-supervisor from TDHVL to provide further support in the electrical power aspects of the project.  Students would also be strongly encouraged to attend three major conferences during their period of study and would have access to all university facilities for wider study, including the libraries, and recreation.

Prospective candidates are encouraged to contact Prof Richard Brown ( or Prof Paul Lewin ( directly for further details.  All candidates will need to apply via the University on-line system, further details of which may be found at

Key facts

Entry requirements: MChem/MSc (or equivalent) with first class honours or distinction in Organic Chemistry, or a closely related subject

Duration: four years (full-time)

Funding: full tuition fees, for UK/EU students, and a tax-free stipend of £14,553 per year

Assessment: Nine month and 18 month reports, viva voce and thesis examination

Start date: typically October 2017

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South East England