Postgraduate students Martin Chan and Jacob Brown have been awarded Andrew Fellowships to enable them to continue their research into the science of the formulation of heterogeneous catalysis.
The Andrew Fellowship was set up by the IChemE in commemoration of Professor Syd Andrew, a distinguished expert in the field of catalysis. The fellowship provides funding for up to two candidates every other year and this year, both those candidates come from this department!
Martin Chan is a third-year PhD student, and he says, "I was awarded this fellowship for my work on the formulation of oxygen carriers for chemical looping selective oxidations, supervised by Prof. Dennis. Chemical looping is a technology that simultaneously achieves reaction and separation between fluid streams by circulating particulate solids between them. The solids cycle between different chemical states as they react with both streams at different points in time. Typically, metal oxides are used to supply lattice oxygen to the reaction in one stream, leaving a reduced solid which is then circulated to an air stream to be regenerated. Much research has been done on the chemical looping combustion of carbonaceous fuels, where it has the advantage of generating undiluted CO2, ready for capture and storage in the Earth, thereby avoiding much of the energy penalty associated with other CCS technologies.My research attempts to apply chemical looping to selective oxidations for the production of chemicals. This has the advantages of improving safety, decreasing separation costs and potentially improving selectivities. Part of my work has specifically been on the development of oxygen carriers (sometimes referred to as 'redox catalysts'), where I have shown how the oxygen-carrying capacity of materials may be enhanced without affecting the surface chemistry."
Jacob Brown is also a third-year PhD student, supervised by Prof Lynn Gladden. He says, "My work is slightly unusual for catalyst science, and I particularly focus on the nature of fluid phases inside porous catalyst materials. Gases and liquids cease to behave as such when confined in nanometre-sized pore spaces (such as will be found in many catalyst supports) and this can affect the thermodynamics of catalytic reactions.
The work I was awarded for, was showing that we can start to understand these unusual fluid phases by looking at these systems via NMR using high temperature and pressure flow loops. Discovery of very slowly diffusing molecules and unusual concentrations of molecules within the pores were just two of the findings of my work. This could have significant implications for reaction engineering, where reactant concentrations and transport are highly important in determining overall reaction rates. If we can start to master the effects of the pore structure on fluid phase behaviour, potentially we will have a whole new avenue for molecule-specific, phase-specific, or reaction-type specific catalysis.
My work is part of a larger project at the Magnetic Resonance Research Centre hoping to understand catalytic processes at operando conditions in detail."
The students will be granted an award of £10,000/y for up to four years in addition to whatever stipend or salary they might receive in their current or proposed appointment. In addition to this there is up to £5,000/y available for travel and accommodation expenses in the same period.