This PhD studentship is part of a large project that aims to provide the scientific foundation that will allow the UK consumer chemical sector to become sustainable and carbon neutral. The consumer chemical industry makes products that go into cosmetics, vitamins and health supplements, soaps, detergents, household chemicals, perfumes and foods. While some steps have already been taken to make this sector more sustainable, the use of virgin petrochemicals and other non-sustainable and/or polluting feedstocks remains prevalent. The project will develop routes to synthesis (and recycle) feedstock chemicals that do not depend on virgin petrochemicals. These new materials will not only need to be sustainable and carbon neutral, they also need to offer high performance, be cost effective to produce in bulk quantities and must not have long-term persistence in the environment after use. This will require new catalysts and catalytic processes.
This PhD studentship is an exciting opportunity to design and synthesise supported metal catalysts from the pyrolysis of metal organic frameworks (MOFs) and evaluate their catalytic properties. MOFs are highly porous, hybrid materials consisting of metal or metal cluster nodes joined together with organic linker molecules to form crystalline structures. Pyrolysis of these MOFs results in metal or metal oxide nanoparticles on a high surface area carbon support. Using a range of synthetic approaches and characterisation techniques, including high-throughput approaches using robotic platforms, you will explore routes to multi-metallic MOF derived catalysts and test their catalytic activity towards conversion of waste CO2 to long-chain (C8-C18) alcohols. The project will combine synthetic chemistry, advanced structural analysis (crystallography), characterisation with sorption and
spectroscopic methods and testing of catalytic properties, with the opportunity to focus on one or more of these aspects during the project e.g., if your interest develops toward automated synthesis, that could become a central point. As well as obtaining knowledge and experience in materials synthesis and characterisation the student will develop skills in teamwork and scientific communication as the researchers within the team work closely together. The position will appeal to candidates with a strong interest in the synthesis of new materials and catalysis.
This is a multi-disciplinary PhD that sits at the interface between Chemistry, Materials Science and Manufacturing. The student will be based in state-of-the-art laboratories in the newly-opened Materials Innovation Factory at the University of Liverpool, as part of a larger project involving teams at University of Oxford and in industry. The MIF is not only home to outstanding University research facilities but is also the permanent base for many industrial scientists.
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