ETH Zurich is one of the world’s leading universities specializing in science and technology. It is renowned for its excellent education, its cutting-edge fundamental research and its efforts to put new knowledge and innovations directly into practice. The Laboratory of Energy Science and Engineering in the Department of Mechanical and Process Engineering invite applications for a
PhD position in tailored CO2 Hydrogenation Catalysts for Selective Methanol Synthesis via Structure-Activity Relationship Across Time and Length Scale
The goal of this project is to develop rationally catalysts for the selective synthesis of methanol via CO2 hydrogenation and to understand their catalytic performance across time and length scale in order to develop a detailed structure -activity relationships. The most promising catalyst formulations, including industrial catalysts, are based on Cu with their activity and selectivity dramatically affected by the presence of promoters or supporting oxides. Generally, the nature of the active sites in such catalytic systems under reaction conditions is currently not known, owing to their complexity (multiple components, complex support effects with the potential formation of alloys). In addition, only a small fraction of all sites is active, which complicates further their investigation since most of the collected spectroscopic information relates to inactive species, thereby preventing true molecular understanding.
The PhD student participating in this research project is expected to develop tailored Cu-based, supported catalysts with the defined composition and obtain a fundamental understanding of the structure -activity performance relationship across time and scale. To this end, advanced operando characterization techniques, including XAS, XRD, electron microscopy and IR spectroscopy will be applied to developed model catalytic systems. The ultimate goal is to uncover guidelines for rational catalyst design and to obtain a Cu-based catalyst with improved productivity compared to the industrial Cu/ZnO/Al2O3 catalysts.
Applicants for this position are expected to have an excellent MSc degree in Chemical Engineering or Chemistry. Experience in the field of material synthesis and/or material characterization tools are important. We are looking for highly motivated, committed, and creative individuals, able to work in a team and with excellent communication skills. Working in a top-level research environment with advanced laboratory infrastructure, the candidate will have a unique opportunity to develop their research abilities. The position is available from August 2019 onwards.