Development of a retrofittable catalytic solution to decrease the CO2 intensity of existing propane dehydrogenation through coupled CO2 to CO conversion
Propylene is one of the key building blocks for the chemical industry, but divergent evolutions in the industry have given rise to the so-called “propylene gap”. To bridge this gap, on-purpose propylene production has been coming online. However the on-purpose production is energy intensive and comes with large CO2 emissions. To reduce their CO2 intensity, a modification to existing plants is proposed that introduces oxidative dehydrogenation of propene coupled to CO2 conversion to CO through innovative catalysis.
The PhD is funded through an approved Flemish research project that will prioritize the further investigation and development of zeolite supported vanadium oxide catalysts which emerged from preliminary research (see also https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/acscatal.2c01374). The research will primarily be conducted in the research group of prof. Mark Saeys at the laboratory of Chemical Technology (LCT) at the university of Gent. You will focus on figuring out the catalytic reaction mechanisms using, among others, steady-state isotopic-transient kinetic analysis (SSITKA) experiments and various characterization techniques (XRD, XPS, XAS, ss-NMR, operando DRIFTS, Raman, …). Material synthesis and physical characterization will be delivered by the collaborating group of prof. M. Dusselier of KU Leuven, and microkinetic studies and modelling will be delivered by the collaborating group of prof. J. Thybaut at the LCT. You will work closely with a colleague supporting your research with molecular modelling. The end goal is the collaborative development of a commercially attractive catalyst.
This Ph.D. offers a unique opportunity to dedicate yourself to fundamental research in catalysis in an applied, industrially relevant, and collaborative framework. Your workplace (LCT) is an international environment with intense contacts with industry, and with professionally engineered and operated experimental facilities. the LCT is embedded in the University of Ghent, a world-renowned research university. The M. Saeys research group is focused on catalysis and technologies for CO2 conversion with expertise in modelling-guided catalyst design coupled to experimental kinetic validation and state-of-the-art characterization.
• Under the supervision of a professor and a postdoc researcher in the team, you will prepare a PhD dissertation over a duration of about 4 years. In these 4 years you publish and present results both at international conferences and in scientific journals.
• You will do practical bench chemistry for the preparation and testing of the catalyst systems. For characterisation, high pressure and high temperature reactors and spectroscopy techniques are available.
• You will investigate structure-reactivity relationships, and rationally tune the catalyst toward desired products
• You will assist the research group with limited educational tasks in topics related to your research.