PhD Studentship: Tailorable Heterogenous Catalysts for Renewable Hydrogen Production from Aqueous Waste

Loughborough University

Start date of studentship: 1st October 2018

Closing date for applications: 16th February 2018


Primary supervisor: Simon Kondrat

Loughborough University is a top-ten rated university in England for research intensity (REF2014). In choosing Loughborough for your research, you’ll work alongside academics who are leaders in their field. You will benefit from comprehensive support and guidance from our Doctoral College, including tailored careers advice, to help you succeed in your research and future career.

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Full Project Detail:

In an attempt to improve sustainability there is a strong social drive for a transition from fossil-based fuels to alternatives, such as bio-based ones. Bio-refineries can utilise lignocellulosic biomass to produce fuels and chemical commodities in such a green and sustainable manner.  Yet this process has several issues, including a high demand for hydrogen and the formation of aqueous oxygenated hydrocarbon waste. Aqueous phase reforming (AQR) represents a viable process to produce hydrogen and light alkanes from the aqueous waste streams, resolving these issues. Key to enabling AQR is the preparation of active, stable and affordable heterogenous catalysts.

The project will take a novel approach to designing affordable nickel catalysts, supported on functional mixed metal oxides, for the AQR process. In addition to catalyst testing, the candidate will employ a range of advanced characterisation techniques to understand the fundamental processes behind the observed catalytic trends. Initially, single or controlled mixtures of model compounds (such as glycerol or sorbitol) will be used in the AQR process to gain fundamental understanding of the process.

As the project evolves, the candidate will have the opportunity to increase the complexity of the AQR process and the impact of the work by studying realistic aqueous waste streams, containing multiple hydrocarbons and potential catalyst poisons. To mitigate the deactivation of catalysts the candidate will investigate catalyst regeneration strategies uniquely accessible to mixed metal oxide supports.

Applicants will be required to be highly motivated and willing to spend time at national facilities. In addition, the applicant will have the opportunity to interact with the UK Catalysis Hub, and so willingness to travel is required.

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Entry requirements:

Applicants should have, or expect to achieve, at least a 2:1 Honours degree (or equivalent) in chemistry or a related subject. A relevant Master’s degree and/or experience in one or more of the following will be an advantage: physical chemistry, inorganic chemistry, heterogenous catalysis

Funding information:

This studentship will be awarded on a competitive basis to applicants who have applied to this project and/or any of the advertised projects prioritised for funding by the School of Science.

The 3-year studentship provides a tax-free stipend of £14,553 (2017 rate) per annum (in line with the standard research council rates) for the duration of the studentship plus tuition fees at the UK/EU rate.  International (non-EU) students may apply however the total value of the studentship will be used towards the cost of the International tuition fee in the first instance.

Contact details:

Name: Dr Simon Kondrat


Tel: 01509223388

How to apply:

All applications should be made online at Under programme name, select Chemistry

Please quote reference number: CM/SK-2/2018

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Midlands of England