PhD in CO2 Electroreduction to Sustainable Fuels

Imperial College London - Department of Materials, Faculty of Engineering

Campus: South Kensington Campus

Duration: 42 Months

Supervisor: Dr Ifan Stephens

Co-supervisor: Professor Anthony Kucernak Applications are invited for a three and half years PhD studentship on CO2 reduction to sustainable fuels, available from October 2018.

The cost of wind and solar power has decreased exponentially over the past few decades. Nonetheless, the increased uptake of renewable electricity is contingent on better means of storing the surplus power. The electrolytic reduction of CO2 to energy-dense fuels — such as ethanol or methanol — could constitute the ideal means of doing so. Judicious design and synthesis of the catalyst material is key to ensuring that the process can occur efficiently. Copper-based catalysts constitute the most promising catalysts for CO2 reduction in an aqueous environment. However, significant improvements are necessary to these materials before CO2 reduction can make a positive impact to our global energy landscape.

The aim of the project will be to develop a catalyst which can accelerate the reaction under conditions of accelerated mass transport. Such conditions are more relevant for real electrolytic devices than conventional model experiments.

The project is multidisciplinary, involving electrochemistry, materials science and analytical chemistry. In particular, it will involve (a) the synthesis of nanostructured Cu catalysts (b) the development of a novel method for testing the catalysts, combining electrochemical measurements with analytical techniques, such as gas chromatography, and (c) the characterisation of the catalysts, both before and after testing, using the wide arsenal of methods available in-house at Imperial College.

We encourage informal enquiries about the project, which can be made to Dr. Ifan Stephens at Further information on the area of research, including relevant publications, can be found at and

Applicants should have a Master’s degree or First degree or (equivalent) with First Class or Upper Second Class in Materials Science, Chemical Engineering, Physics or Chemistry.

This PhD studentship is funded by the UK's Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and is open to UK home students or European students who have spent the last three years in the UK. The studentship will cover tuition fees plus the standard maintenance stipend of £16,553 (this year’s rate) per annum.

Applicants should send a CV and a covering letter to Dr. Ifan Stephens at and will be required to complete an electronic application form. The prospectus, entry requirements and application form (under ‘how to apply’) are available at: Please contact Fiona Thomson ( for further information. Information about the Department can be found at

Committed to equality and valuing diversity, we are also an Athena SWAN Silver Award winner, a Stonewall Diversity Champion, a Disability Confident Employer and are working in partnership with GIRES to promote respect for trans people.

The College is a proud signatory to the San-Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA), which means that in hiring and promotion decisions, we evaluate applicants on the quality of their work, not the journal impact factor where it is published. For more information, see evaluation

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