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Durham University

Centre for Sustainable Chemical Processes


April 2013

Two Postdoctoral Research Associate positions and a PhD position available

Reference Number 2467

Location Durham City

Faculty/Division Science

Department Chemistry

Grade Grade 7

Position Type Full Time

Contract Type Fixed Term

Salary (£) 30424 - 32267

Closing Date 23 April 2013

Job Description

Two postdoctoral positions are available in the research groups of Drs Phil Dyer and Chris Greenwell, in the Departments of Chemistry and Earth Sciences, respectively, at Durham University. Both PDRAs will work as part of a larger project entitled ‘Establishing an Integrated Supply and Processing Pipeline for the Sustainable Manufacture of Liquid Hydrocarbon Fuels from Seaweed’, which is focused on establishing and exploiting innovative methodologies for the preservation of seaweed and subsequent conversion of the preserved biomass by gasification and Fischer-Tropsch catalysis to liquid fuels. In parallel, the consortium will develop an innovation Platform for multi-stakeholder engagement, probe supply chain economics, and assess public perception/techno-societal impact of large-scale seaweed cultivation in UK coastal regions.

One postdoctoral researcher, PDRA1, will be responsible for the development of methodologies for the gasification, gas clean-up, and subsequent Fischer-Tropsch up-grading of the preserved seaweed. The second postdoctoral researcher, PDRA2, will be focussed on laboratory optimisation of the seaweed preservation protocols and detailed study of the chemical composition of the resulting materials. All aspects of the project will involve working closely with other members of the project consortium. The successful candidates will be highly motivated and able to work independently.

These posts are fixed term and are available starting immediately for a period of 4 years, with the possibility of further extension.

Interested candidates should submit a CV and a cover letter detailing his/her interest in the research and qualifications for the position. Applicants should have a relevant PhD (or have submitted a PhD thesis before starting the position). Informal enquiries regarding the project can be directed to Dr Dyer (


Laboratory work will mainly be carried out at Durham University. However, travel off-site for project meetings, larger-scale gasification studies, seaweed harvesting, and preservation work, will be required.


Both posts
• Develop detailed programmes of work and assess progress against the work plan.
• Keep comprehensive, accessible, and secure records of experimental designs, data, and analyses.
• Liaise effectively with and assist other members of the research consortium.
• Prepare monthly and quarterly reports; participate in scheduled electronic and face-to-face meetings, including presentation of research results.
• Present research at national and international conferences.
• Write or assist with the writing of papers for publication in international journals and conference proceedings, and the preparation of grant applications.

PDRA1 only
• Conversion of preserved biomass to fuels through sequential gasification (including reactor design and gas purification) and heterogeneous Fischer-Tropsch catalysis.

PDRA2 only
• Preparation and characterisation of fresh or preserved seaweed biomass.

Applications should be made via the web at:

PhD studentship (Heterogeneous Catalysis)

An EPSRC-funded industrial CASE award with Johnson Matthey is available to work on a PhD position in the research group of Phil Dyer on a project entitled "Fundamentals of Selective Olefin Oligomerisation Using Heterogeneous Catalysis", which will probe the synthesis and mode of operation of a range of different heterogeneous initiators. The project work will be undertaken in the Department of Chemistry at Durham and will involve aspects of organometallic chemistry, catalyst testing, and the synthesis of novel heterogeneous catalyst packages. This area of research is of particular interest for upgrading alkenes (increasingly available from light hydrocarbon feeds and by dehydration of ethanol) and to maximise yields of fuel (petrol and/or middle distillates) grade components from residual crude oil- and biomass-derived fractions. This project will commence in October 2013 and is open to UK applicants only.

Please contact Phil Dyer ( for further details.

Applications may be made on-line at: