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PhD Studentship - Life Cycle Assessment for Sustainable Catalysis

The University of Manchester

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Manchester
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students
Funding amount: Not Specified
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 16th September 2021
Closes: 16th December 2021

Lead Supervisor: Dr. Rosa Cuellar-Franca


Catalysis is a key technology for multiple industries and will play a critical role to achieve net zero ambitions. In 2020 bp international ltd (bp) set a goal of being a net zero company by 2050 or sooner and helping the world get to net zero. Similarly, Johnson Matthey (JM) has a sustainability framework that includes reducing their greenhouse gas emissions by 25% by 2025.

This PhD position will be part of a large collaborative project between Cardiff University, The University of Manchester, bp and Johnson Matthey, co-funded by EPSRC and industry. The aim of the project is to develop a platform of new sustainable catalyst technologies that will enable clean growth and a low carbon future. This wide collaborative project will study several catalytic systems (including homogeneous, heterogeneous, biocatalysis, electrocatalysis and plasma catalysis) employing a range of computational and characterisation techniques to develop a fundamental understanding of catalytic mechanisms for the conversion of small bio-based molecules and CO2 into value added chemicals and fuels.

The PhD research project will aim to evaluate the overall environmental sustainability of the new catalytic processes developed in the programme, using Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), and to consider the associated environmental impacts for their optimal reaction pathways compared to conventional routes.  Specifically, considerations will include the use of critical raw materials, environmental issues (e.g. depletion of metals, soil acidification) and the use of targeted feedstocks (e.g. waste, CO2, biomass).

The PhD student will have a co-supervisor from Cardiff University and two industrial mentors and will have the opportunity to visit the partners’ industrial sites. PhDs will participate in quarterly meetings with the industrial partners and biannual meetings with all the project researchers. The project aims are fundamental and we expect to publish high impact outputs in world leading journals after industrial review. This is a computational modelling project and there will be opportunities to present your work at international conferences. The project will be part of bp International Centre for Advanced Materials (bp-ICAM) community and students will receive training through the Integrated Catalysis (iCAT) CDT at Manchester.

Skills required

Applicants should have a good degree in Chemistry, Chemical Engineering or equivalent experience. Applicants with knowledge or experience in Life Cycle Assessment are strongly encouraged to apply. Applicants should submit a CV, a brief statement of research interests, and the names of two referees by e-mail to


Applications are invited for a fully funded 4-year studentship offered with bp international ltd and Johnson Matthey. This award provides a tax-free stipend and covers all fees across the PhD programme. International applicants will be considered. The PhD student can start from July 2022 and applications will be considered until the position is filled.

Closing date for applications

Applications considered on a rolling basis

Contact for project specific enquiries

Dr. Rosa Cuellar-Franca (

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