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PhD Vacancies for 2019 Entry

Applications are invited for the PhD studentships detailed below, with study starting in September/October 2019.  

These are full-time, fully-funded positions, covering tuition fees at the home rate, plus a stipend (currently £14,777 per annum). Unless otherwise stated, the duration of these studentships is three years. 

Whilst the projects which are currently available are listed below, additional projects may become available, so please check this page regularly for further details. 


Unless otherwise stated, academic requirements include a minimum of 2.1 honours in a relevant subject, however, candidates who possess a 2.2 honours degree AND a suitable MSc degree may also be considered.   

As a result of contraints set out by the funding body, and unless otherwise stated, the studentships detailed below are open to UK and EU residents ONLY, as defined by the University’s Postgraduate Office.

How to Apply

Applications must be submitted online at: Only applications submitted via the online portal will be accepted.    


  • For general enquiries, including queries about the application process, please contact the School Research Office ( in the first instance.
  • For more detailed information about the projects, please contact the named supervisor detailed within the information provided below.
  • For queries about eligibility, please contact the University’s Postgraduate Office (

Available Projects

Chemisorbent materials for olefin/paraffin separation (Supervisor: Dr Leila Moura)

This project aims to develop new equipment and chemisorbent materials for the separation of ethylene and propene from their saturated counterparts.

Developing an alternative method for the isolation of ethylene and propylene, chemical starting materials for the high-demand materials such as polymers (PET, PP, PVC, medical grade polymers), chemicals, drugs and lubricants, from natural gas, would mean overcoming the enormous environmental, energy and engineering costs associated with these separations.  These light olefins are the largest-volume organic chemical feedstock with global demands of over 236 million tons per year and demand rates increase of 3-5% per year.

They are mostly obtained through cryogenic distillation, a high capital and energy demanding process demanding up to 6% of the industry’s total energy usage and associated to 75% of the product production cost. This energy consuption represents around 30 months of the UK electric energy demand.

Most research olefin gas separation studies are performed with single or binary gas absorption with pure gases. Instead, this project will make use of new dedicated equipment capable of faster, responsive measurements with mixed gas absorption using the real conditions (temperature, pressure, complex composition of gas mixture) shared by the industrial partners SHELL and Solvay and use the data to determine the real potential for industrial application.

New chemisorbent materials will be developed based on ionic liquids, deep eutectic solvents and others will be designed, characterised and studied to optimise olefin/paraffin separation compared to cryogenic distillation.

For further information relating to this project, please contact Dr Leila Moura via email. The closing date for applications for this project is the 30th September 2019.