PhD studentship by the University of Glasgow and the ISIS Neutron and Muon Source available investigating the single-step partial oxidation of methane.

Flaring of natural gas is not only a waste of potential fuel and chemicals but also emits CO2 and adds to climate change. One proposal is to convert natural gas to methanol by catalytic partial oxidation with a zeolite catalyst. Currently, the industrial process is on a large scale, involving three-steps: catalyst oxidation, methane reaction and finally methanol extraction with a solvent. Promising work has shown that water can be used as both the solvent for methanol extraction and as the oxidant for catalyst regeneration. However, any remaining water in the catalyst will act as a poison preventing further activity, an issue which must be overcome if a viable small-scale single-step process is to be developed. This project will investigate the potential catalyst characteristics necessary to achieve a viable single-step process. To investigate the transport of reactants to the active site and the removal of the products from the catalyst pores Quasielastic Neutron Scattering (QENS) will be employed. To truly understand the reaction processes, these measurements must be performed under real life conditions, a vital aspect of the project will be the development of the apparatus capable of running QENS measurements of the catalyst under working conditions. With the information gained, it is hoped that improvements to the process could provide a viable alternative to methane flaring.

The project will be based in the UK Catalysis Hub labs in Harwell, Oxfordshire, on the Central Facilities site where the ISIS Neutron and Muon Source is located.

If you wish to discuss the position in more detail please contact Dr Emma Gibson ( or Dr Ian Silverwood (

Funding is available to cover tuition fees for UK/EU applicants for 3.5 years, as well as paying a stipend at the Research Council rate (estimated £15,009 for Session 2018-19).

Please apply through the following link:

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