We are looking for a PhD student on an exciting carbon dioxide project!

11 November 2022

Association of polar molecules in a quadrupolar liquid - carbon dioxide
Association of polar molecules in a quadrupolar liquid - carbon dioxide

PhD Studentship: Prevention Of Phase-separation Of Corrosive Aqueous Acidic Solution Out Of Liquid CO2

Funding: Available to Home & Overseas Applicants. This studentship is fully funded and includes a 3 year stipend (set at £18,062 for 2022/23) and tuition fees.

Background: physical chemistry, chemical thermodynamics, electrostatics (or broadly chemistry, physics, mathematics, chemical engineering)

Application deadline: 30-11-2022.

An exciting PhD project funded by Shell, the University of Cambridge and QMUL.

The motivation of this project is carbon capture and storage (CCS). To mitigate the worst consequences of global warming, it is now clear that humanity will need to bury underground titanic amounts of CO2 – several Gtonnes/year. We need to reach this order of magnitude as early as 2030, so CCS is expected to soon become one of the most important processes in the entire chemical industry. A major problem hindering the realization of this plan is that we do not currently have the means to model accurately the behaviour of a mixture of CO2 with the typical impurities we see in captured streams (H2S, H2O, O2, SOx, and NOx) and predict when the formation of corrosive phases will occur. As a result, impurity levels for the separation stage of carbon capture are currently over specified. A good equation of state for this mixture has the potential to relax these specifications, providing a golden opportunity to reduce dramatically the price of carbon capture and make it an actual solution for decarbonizing some of the main chemical production processes worldwide (of metals, ammonia, hydrogen and – in the short term – of fossil fuel energy).

The science behind the project is also exciting. Liquid CO2 is unique in that it is a quadrupolar dielectric. This results in unique association behaviour of the polar impurities dissolved in it, due to the unusual electrostatic effects from the medium – to begin with, the standard macroscopic Maxwell equations do not work as they neglect all quadrupoles. This is also the reason that a novel approach is required for the prediction of the properties of this mixture – namely, one that combines conjugated pVT and dielectric equations of state, predicting simultaneously the dielectric permittivity and the quadrupolar permittivity of the solvent.

This is a rare case where a PhD project offers you a cutting-edge research topic that has immediate and important application. It is the best PhD project ever – you can do great science and save the world simultaneously! You will work as part of a team that involves an experimental group from the University of Cambridge and industrial partners from Shell. This project is particularly suited to anyone interested in the application of chemical thermodynamics (equations of state and phase behaviour of fluids) and electrostatics (dielectric permittivity, electrolyte solutions). Please feel encouraged to apply if the project interests you, even if you are unsure whether you have the appropriate background knowledge – most of all, you need to be motivated; we will teach you everything that is required to complete the project.

Eligibility: The minimum requirement for this studentship opportunity is a good Honours degree (minimum 2(i) honours or equivalent) or MSc/MRes in a relevant discipline.
If English is not your first language, you will require a valid English certificate equivalent to IELTS 6.5+ overall with a minimum score of 6.0 in Writing and 5.5 in all sections (Reading, Listening, Speaking).
Candidates are expected to start from January 2023.

Do not hesitate to contact us for questions!

For more information - click here.

Contact:Radomir Slavchov
Tel:07787 468441
Research Centre:

Updated by: Radomir Slavchov