Wednesday, July 2, 2008

PhD Studentships, Graduate School of Engineering and Electronics, University of Edinburgh

Metal-organic frameworks for hydrogen purification and catalytic applications – suitable for chemical engineers, chemists, and physicists

Funding is available for two PhD studentships in the School of Engineering and Electronics, University of Edinburgh on two separate metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) related projects. Metal organic frameworks (MOFs) constitute one of the most exciting developments in recent nanoporous-materials science, with potential applications in many areas, including catalysis, gas separation and storage. The major advantage of MOFs over more traditional porous materials, such as zeolites, is the greater scope for tailoring these materials for specific applications due to their modular synthesis from corner units (generally metal ions or clusters) and linker units (organic molecules able to bridge the metal corners).

Project 1: Metal-organic frameworks for hydrogen purification

Hydrogen is a potential future automotive fuel as well as an important industrial feedstock. For fuel-cell applications, as well as in many industrial processes, high purity is required. The hydrogen required can be produced either by generating it from steam reforming or methanol cracking processes or by recovering it from hydrogen-rich process streams by adsorbing the impurities using pressure swing adsorption. Such streams are readily available in refineries and petrochemical plants and are sometimes burnt as a waste stream. The scope of this project is to design new adsorbents for hydrogen purification using computational and experimental methods. This is a collaborative project with the Department of Chemistry at the University of St Andrews.

Project 2: Metal-organic frameworks for catalytic applications

To date a large percentage of chiral compounds are synthesised using homogeneous catalysis. Although they are often expensive and their separation/recycling tedious, inefficient and time consuming, homogeneous catalysts often show excellent selectivities and high activities. However there are many advantages to using heterogeneous catalysis, such as easy separation, efficient recycling, minimisation of metal contamination, improved handling that could all result in lower environmental impact and lower overall costs. The aim of this project is to develop chiral heterogeneous catalysts based on MOFs and to study in particular the adsorption and diffusion processes involved. This is a joint project with chemists at the University of East Anglia and the University of Bath.

The studentships
The studentships are available immediately for a period of 4 years (project 1) and 3.5 years (project 2). (They are of different length because the projects themselves have different durations.) The studentships provide a tax-free EPSRC stipend (currently £12,600 per annum), plus university fees at the Home / EU rate. Additional funding is available to cover the overseas fees for non-EU citizens for one of the projects.

For both studentships, collaboration between the chemical engineers at the University of Edinburgh and the partners in chemistry is a very important element and the successful candidates will spend significant periods of time at the partner institutions, learning among other things about material synthesis and characterisation. The ability to be a team player and to work in close collaboration with a team of chemical engineers and chemistry is therefore essential. The successful candidates will have a first class or 2.1 degree, or equivalent, in chemical engineering, chemistry, physics or a related subject.

For further information please contact Dr Tina Düren (+44 (0)131 6504856, tina.duren[ at ]