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Ph.D. thesis project "Mechanism of nanostructure formation and surface engineering for activated materials in catalysis"


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Current status: The growing concerns related to petroleum-based fuels, together with environmental & health regulations, indicate the necessity of the clean technologies development for pollution abatement and energy. In the last decade most of those technologies relayed on catalysis & active catalytic material applications. Until now, several studies showed correlation of catalyst morphology with its activity & selectivity in given process, i.e. underlying the effects of the catalyst preparation method, operating conditions, and reagents composition. New nanocomposites of high activity, durability and reasonable costs are sought. Therefore, design of catalysts which can selectively operate in different activation ways (thermal-, photo-activation) without activity drop would be beneficial, enhancing potential application perspectives in new & retrofit industrial installation. Understanding the catalyst surface composition, chemical, electronic & morphological transformations of an active phase, as well as active sites arrangement and distribution under reaction condition are of the major importance to optimize the catalytic material and thus better control the whole catalytic process. Inspiration for these studies comes from the publications of Colmenares group: Green Chemistry, 18 (2016) 5736-5750; ChemSusChem, 8 (2015) 1676–1685.

The goal: The design of multicomponent intelligent nano-catalytic systems showing enhanced activity in processes such as alternative fuel transformation, selective catalysis or emission control. The project aims at investigating how the performance of nanostructured catalytic materials (nanofibers, nanotubes or nanowires) correlates with their surface composition and active sites distribution.

Our approach: Catalytic materials will be prepared using different techniques, including co-precipitation, impregnation, and sonication methods. Several techniques will be applied for physico-chemical characterization, e.g. X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, X-ray diffraction, high resolution transmission electron microscopy. Additionally, infrared or ultraviolet–visible spectroscopy can be applied to describe precisely the nature of surface species. In order to investigate materials activity and selectivity in given processes the student will conduct research over a range of temperatures and UV-Vis activation using standard and homemade catalysts, and applying conventional flow/batch (photo)-reactors under atmospheric pressure using well defined gas mixtures and mass spectrometer and/or gas chromatograph as online gas analyser. The Ranido (catalyst manufacturer; Czech Republic) is willing to collaborate on this project.


Marie Skłodowska-Curie Co-funding of regional, national, and international programmes (COFUND-DP); MSCA-COFUND-2015-DP

Doctoral programmes addressing development and broadening of the research competencies of early-stage researchers

Supervisor in Poland: Juan Carlos Colmenares Q., Ph.D. D.Sc. (Institute of Physical Chemistry of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw)

Co-Supervisor in Germany: Prof. Dr. Roger Gläser (Institute of Chemical Technology, Universität Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany) 

Ph.D. Fellow: Ayesha Khan

Acknowledgment: This Ph.D. project has received funding from:

  • The European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie, grant agreement No. 711859
  • The Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education, from the funds for science – an international co-funded project, grant agreement No. 3549/H2020/COFUND/2016/2, COFUN07

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