PhD Studentship: Graphene Coats for Preventing Palladium Membrane Contamination

University of Bath - Department of Chemical Engineering

Supervisors: 

Bernardo Castro-Dominguez

Carmelo Herdes Moreno

Many important metal-based catalysts are subject to contamination, since they have non-discriminative adsorptive properties to reactants and contaminants. It is desirable to prevent/reduce the adsorption of undesired molecules, while maintaining high activity. We hypothesized that a monoatomic layer of graphene placed over the surface of metals can act as a barrier to prevent poisoning, while maintaining their catalytic performance. As a proof-of-concept, palladium (Pd) films/membranes will employed to study their H2S contamination.

Pd membranes separate H2 selectively and rely in the exclusive catalytic dissociation of H2 at their surface. Adsorbed H2 dissociates into protons, permeating through the Pd lattice and recombining at the opposite Pd surface, yielding pure H2. The implementation of Pd membranes often involves the presence of other gas molecules with affinity towards the surface of Pd, reducing the H2 flux of the membranes. Particularly, H2S reduces the activity of pure Pd membranes by ~70% and their lifetime by contaminating not only the surface, but also the bulk of the membrane. H2S poisoning is the major barrier towards the implementation of Pd membranes at the industrial scale

This project focuses on studying the influence of graphene on the catalytic properties of palladium membranes. At first, the analysis will be performed through a combined quantum mechanics/molecular mechanics (QM/MM) methodology. Simultaneously, palladium membranes will be synthesized and used for characterization. A graphene coating technique will be developed and implemented on the surface of the membranes. The final graphene-coated palladium membranes will be tested for H2S resistance.

The experimental and modelling aspects of the project requires a student with a strong background in chemical engineering and material science. The ability to think outside the box and enthusiasm for combining experimental and theoretical methods are essential.

Interested applicants, please contact Dr. Bernardo Castro directly before applying at B.Castro.Dominguez@bath.ac.uk.

A Home/EU award will provide full tuition fees, an annual Training Support Fee of £1,000, and a tax-free maintenance payment of £14,553 (2017-8 rate) for up to 3.5 years.

An Overseas award (3 years): Provides tuition fee, an annual Training Support Fee of £1,000, but no stipend.

The successful applicant will ideally have graduated (or be due to graduate) with an undergraduate Masters first class degree and/or MSc distinction (or overseas equivalent).

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Type / Role:

PhD

Location(s):

South West England