Vacancy

PhD Scholarship: Plasma-Catalysis Species and Characterisation (OES) for N-Fixation

Project Description:

Our previous studies have shown that non-thermal plasma can be applied to N fixation at the examples of NOx synthesis from air and ammonia synthesis from hydrogen and nitrogen. An efficient reactor design is essential to improve key performance parameters of the process, which are, first of all, energy efficiency and yield. Simulation of target reactions, based on reaction network analysis and reaction kinetics predict energy efficiencies up to 50-60% and better yields.

Yet, literature studies with the existing types of plasma reactors (gliding arc, DBD), including our own ones, show that those reactors have intrinsic shortcomings, which probably set a severe limit for further optimisation.

Thus, a new reactor concept is needed, which actually enables a new process, as we suppose that transport processes and selectivity in creating active species as well as their concentration make major points. Thus, our SCOPE project (ERC Synergy Grant, EU) proposes a new kind of microplasma, with much reduced electrode-to-electrode dimensions, microstructured reaction environment, and temperature modulations at the catalyst. This shall enable specific catalysts able to work in symbiosis with the radicals and photo- or vibrationally excited species generated by plasma are necessary.

Each plasma reactor creates its own, origin excited species which finally are decisive for its performance. The knowledge of those is crucial for optimising reactor performance from a rational point of view. It is pivotal to allow proper and sound reaction modelling which is a major part in our overall project, done by other PhD/post-docs at another research site (U Antwerp/Belgium). A strong collaboration is envisaged here, and thus a basic understanding of the modelling and its key deliverables and bottlenecks would form a valuable assets of skills of the PhD candidate. Both, modelling and experimental species characterisation contribute to developing a reaction mechanism and plasma reaction kinetics.

A preferred technique will be Optical Emission Spectroscopy (OES). We have done that previously in the past and this is a common approach applied by plasma (physicist) researchers. Thus, skills in optical spectroscopy are wanted. Besides that, we might aim for developing a flow-cell to measure IR, which is set in a kind of by-pass (at-line) of the reactor stream. This, again, is a common approach to decipher insight into reaction mechanism of plasma reactions. Thus, the goal is to get detailed information on the radicals and their states for plasma-enabled NH3 or NOx fixation. A combination of the experimental OES results with related relevant software like Specair or Bolsig+ can help to estimate the gas temperature, radical densities and more valuable information.

For more information, please contact:

  1. Prof. Volker Hessel: volker.hessel@adelaide.edu.au
  2. Dr Nam Nghiep Tran: namnghiep.tran@adelaide.edu.au

Postdoc Research Fellow

Vacancy Type/Job category
Research Only
Department
School of Engineering
Salary
£30,395 – £39,609 per annum
Location
Univeristy of Warwick, Coventry

Vacancy Overview
Fixed term contract for 3 years, 36.5 hours per week.

This full-time post is available initially for three years to undertake research on process development and optimisation for chemical conversion using non-thermal plasma energy.

Whilst employed by the University of Warwick, the successful candidate will be based at the University of Adelaide for the duration of the contract. Some travel to the UK may be required.

You will work with the Principal Investigators to develop a new, technically sound reactor design for symbiotic plasma-catalysis N-fixation. You will assist the Principal Investigators of the SCOPE project and, where appropriate, project collaborators in the successful execution of the project.

You will undertake independent and collaborative research and will be expected to write up your research for publication. You will be expected to deal with any management/administration problems that may arise from the project and produce and present regular project reports ensuring that the project objectives and deadlines are met.

You will have (or be about to be awarded) a PhD in Chemical Engineering, Physical Chemistry or a related discipline, and will have proven ability to undertake high quality research. You will have a working knowledge of process development and optimisation analytical instruments such as FTIR, and will have excellent communication skills, time management and IT skills.

Experience in the areas of non-thermal plasma and/or microfabrication/catalysis will be a distinct advantage.

This is a unique opportunity for a dynamic and ambitious chemical engineer or physical chemist or to perform cutting edge research within the framework of an ERC Synergy project SCOPE.

The University aims to promote work life balance for all employees and the School of Engineering will consider a range of possible flexible working arrangements in order to recruit the best candidate.

The School of Engineering is committed to the principles of the Athena SWAN Charter which recognises work undertaken to address gender equality, representation and progression for all staff working in an academic environment. The School currently holds the Athena SWAN Bronze award and the University holds an Institutional Silver award. Further information about the work of the School in relation to Athena SWAN can be found at the following link; https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/sci/eng/about/athenaswan/

If you have not yet been awarded your PhD but are near submission or have recently submitted your PhD, any offers of employment will be made as Research Assistant on level 5 of the University grade structure. Upon successful award of your PhD and evidence of this fact, you will be promoted to Research Fellow on the first point of the level 6 of the University grade structure.

Job Description

JOB PURPOSE:

To undertake research to support the work of the School and assist the Principal Investigators and, where appropriate, project collaborators in the successful execution of the project.

DUTIES & RESPONSIBILITIES:

1. Help establish a sound research base within the department in order to assist the development of research objectives and proposals for own or joint research.

2. Conduct individual and collaborative research projects. Plan own day-to-day activity within framework of the agreed research program.

3. Write up research work for publication.

4. Translate knowledge of advances in the subject area into research activity.

5. Coordinate and liaise with other members of the research group over work progress

6. May contribute to preparing proposals and applications to external bodies.

7. May present information on research progress and outcomes to bodies supervising research, e.g. steering groups.

8. May contribute to the preparation of papers for steering groups and other bodies.

9. Communicate complex information (orally and in writing) and material of a specialist or highly technical nature.

10. Continually update own knowledge and understanding in field or specialism.

11. Assist in the supervision of student projects and the development of student research skills.

12. May be involved in the assessment of student knowledge and supervision of projects.

13. May be required to attend departmental meetings and to participate (where necessary) in other committees and working groups within the department, the faculty and the University.

14. Ensure compliance with health and safety. And other University regulations and good working practices in all aspects of work.

15. Work within budget constraints. Ensure research resources are used in an effective and efficient manner.

16. Any other duties as directed by the Principal Investigator of the project.

Duties and responsibilities outlined above are not intended to be an exhaustive list, but provide guidance on the main aspects of the post. The post holder will be required to be flexible in their duties and to carry out any other duties as directed by the line manager.

Person Specification

The Person Specification focuses on the knowledge, skills, experience and qualifications required to undertake the role effectively. This is measured by (a) Application Form, (b) Test/Exercise, (c) Interview, (d) Presentation.

Essential Criteria 1
Good honours degree (2.1 minimum) or master degree in a relevant subject (a)
Essential Criteria 2
A PhD in Chemical Engineering, Physical Chemistry, or related subject (a)
Essential Criteria 3
Proven ability in research and evidence of quality research output in relevant field (a,c,d)
Essential Criteria 4
A developing research profile with the ability to publish and/or produce high quality research output (a,c)
Essential Criteria 5
Working knowledge of process development and optimisation (a,c,d)
Essential Criteria 6
Working knowledge of analytical instruments such as FTIR, for example (a,c,d)
Essential Criteria 7
Strong communication and interpersonal skills with experience of working independently and as part of a team (a,c,d)
Essential Criteria 8
Able to evidence strong time management and organisational skills (a,c)
Essential Criteria 9
Excellent standard of spoken and written English with the ability to communicate clearly and concisely (a,c,d)
Desirable Criteria 1
Relevant experience in non-thermal plasma (a,c,d)
Desirable Criteria 2
Relevant experience in microfabrication/catalysis (a,c,d)
Desirable Criteria 3
Relevant experience in (co)supervising of PhD and undergraduate students (a,c,d)
Further Particulars
For further information about the University of Warwick, please read our University Further Particulars.

For further information about the department, please visit the departmental website.

The Project
The project will introduce a ground-breaking approach to use renewable energy for N2 fixation. We will use non-thermal plasma, which has large potential to convert these low reactive molecules under near ambient temperature and pressure, particularly for distributed processes based on renewable energy.

By inducing excited states in solid catalysts to work in synergy with the excited short-lived plasma species, the project will introduce a brand new idea for catalyst-plasma symbiosis. In addition, we introduce a fully new concept of micro-plasma array through a novel electrode design, to generate the plasma at the catalyst surface, thereby overcoming long distance transport.

Our previous studies have shown that non-thermal plasma can be applied to N fixation. An efficient reactor design is essential to improve key performance parameters of the process, which are, first of all, energy efficiency and yield. Yet, literature studies with the existing types of plasma reactors (gliding arc, DBD), including our own ones, show that those reactors have intrinsic shortcomings, which probably set a severe limit for further optimisation. Thus, a new reactor concept is needed, which actually enables a new process, as we suppose that transport processes and selectivity in creating active species as well as their concentration make major points. Thus, our SCOPE project (ERC Synergy Grant, EU) proposes a new kind of microplasma, with much reduced electrode-to-electrode dimensions, microstructured reaction environment, and temperature modulations at the catalyst. This shall enable specific catalysts able to work in symbiosis with the radicals and photo- or vibrationally excited species generated by plasma are necessary. The candidate will have to develop a technically sound reactor design for symbiotic plasma-catalysis N-fixation.

Right to work in the UK
If you do not yet have the right to work in the UK and/ or are seeking sponsorship under Tier 2 of the UK points-based immigration system
please click on this link which contains further information about obtaining right to work in the UK and details about eligibility for sponsorship under Tier 2.

The University of Warwick provides an inclusive working and learning environment, recognising and respecting every individual’s differences. We welcome applications from individuals who identify with any of the protected characteristics defined by the Equality Act 2010.

Recruitment of Ex-Offenders Policy

As an organisation using the (DBS) Disclosure and Barring Service to assess applicants’ suitability for positions of trust, the University of Warwick complies with the DBS Code of Practice and undertakes not to discriminate unfairly against any subject of a Disclosure on the basis of a conviction or other information revealed. More information is available on the University’s Vacancy pages and applicants may request a copy of the DBS Code of Practice.

Closing Date
8 Aug 2019

PhD in Plasma Nitrogen Fixation

The University of Adelaide is in cooperation with The University of Warwick (main affiliation, UK) to conduct research in the field of Plasma Nitrogen Fixation. There’s currently 14 open PhD positions (Prof. Hessel will supervise 7 and co-supervise 7). This is an exceptional opportunity for excellent students to pursue their PhD degree at The University of Warwick (UK) and The University of Adelaide (Australia).

Please contact: 

Prof. Volker Hessel: volker.hessel@adelaide.edu.au

Dr Nam Tran: namnghiep.tran@adelaide.edu.au