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The University of Southampton

PhD Studentship: Developing Novel Heterogeneous Catalysts for Sustainable & Renewable Chemistry

Published: 22 March 2011

Dr. Robert Raja & Prof. Phil Gale (School of Chemistry, University of Southampton, UK) and Prof. Martha Isabel Cobo Angel (Universidad de la Sabana, Campus Universitario del Puente del Común, Chia, Colombia).

48 Month PhD Studentship

This collaborative research project between the University of Southampton and University of La Sabana is aimed at designing novel nanocluster catalysts for the generation of second and third generation hybrid biofuels from renewable sources. In particular, developing innovative catalyst design strategies for producing hybrid biofuels from renewable sources presents promising opportunities for addressing energy challenges in a sustainable fashion.

Colombia produces significant amounts of biomass-derived ethanol and there is a growing demand for building research strategies that will lead to the development of hybrid processes for the production of second- and third- generation hybrid biofuels from bioethanol and related feedstocks. By designing multifunctional active sites in heterogeneous catalysts, this project will be aimed at developing strategies that seek to minimize undesired chemical reactions and generate hybrid biofuels that are hydrophobic and have a high-energy density. This route also presents the opportunity for the development of smaller scale Fischer–Tropsch synthesis plants to produce liquid fuels from biomass, which is an advantage for distributed biomass resources. Furthermore, the coupling between these processes will lead to the development of chemical synergies for better efficiency. Alternate technologies that entail the direct conversion of carbohydrates to biofuels, by exploiting the synergistic effects of nanoparticle catalysts, or reassembling of ‘syn-gas’ to hybrid biofuels can also be envisaged with this approach. These studies are anticipated to have significant fundamental impact on many technology areas; including catalytic reforming, selective hydrogenation, and renewable fuel generation.

The project will be supervised by Dr. Robert Raja and Prof. Phil Gale at the University of Southampton and by Prof. Martha Isabel Cobo Angel at the University of la Sabana. The successful applicant will join a well-established Research Group in both institutions working in the areas of heterogeneous catalysis with a keen focus on Sustainable Energy production.

Applicants should have, or expect to receive shortly, a good (preferably first or 2:1) degree in Chemistry or a relevant discipline with a keen interest in materials chemistry and catalysis.

Please contact Dr. Robert Raja ( ; +44-2380-592144) for informal enquiries and further information related to this project.

To obtain further information or to apply for this position, please contact Mrs Chun Borodzicz, Postgraduate Admissions Administrator at


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