Area of the proposed research :
The new PhD Thesis here proposed will be focused on the CO2 utilization step in the CCUS chain, and especially on the CO2 catalytic conversion into methanol.
Indeed, as highlighted in previous researches carried out in the framework of the ECRA Academic Chair, using renewable hydrogen, methanol is the CO2-based product with the highest potential in view of valorizing the CO2 coming from a large CO2-emitting industry such as the cement one. Even if this conversion process is already well known, it is still needed to improve it and to optimize it by working with different catalysts and operating conditions.
Therefore, the purpose of the newly proposed PhD thesis will be to experimentally study the CO2 catalytic conversion into methanol thanks to experiments performed with different catalysts in a micro-pilot installation developed in the Thermodynamics Unit.
More precisely, the PhD thesis will include the following tasks:
- Detailed and updated bibliographic review on the CO2 conversion into methanol, including techno-economic studies and catalysts comparisons;
- experimental tests of CO2 conversion into methanol using the ECRA Chair micro-pilot unit in order to compare the performances of different selected catalysts. Initial tests will be performed with conventional commercial catalyst (CuO/ZnO/Al2O3) before testing other more innovative catalysts;
- modeling and simulations (using Aspen Plus software) of the CO2-to-methanol catalytic process will be also envisaged in order to obtain relevant equilibrium and kinetic constants;
- techno-economical analysis (TEA) and life cycle assessment (LCA) will finally be achieved to optimize the process.
During the PhD thesis, several exchanges will be necessary with internal collaborators (other PhD students, post-docs, etc.) and also with external collaborators such as ECRA members, other universities or research organisms, etc.
Candidate’s profile :
Education: Candidates must hold a Master degree (5-years duration) in Chemical engineering/Chemistry or fields (such as industrial chemistry, mechanical/ environmental engineering, …) with a strong interest in chemistry, energy, process engineering and optimization.
Languages: A good knowledge of English is required, both oral and written; a knowledge of French would be an asset.
Other skills: Writing skills, good interpersonal and communication skills, rigor, conciseness and motivation with knowledge on catalytic processes and simulation/modeling tools (such as Aspen Plus/Hysys) and/or life cycle assessment (such as SimaPro LCA) will be highly appreciated.
The candidate will be hosted in a nice working environment under a challenging job at a dynamic and ambitious University. Salaries are in accordance with the internal University agreement.
The PhD Thesis (4 years) is expected to start as soon as possible in 2019.
The PhD Thesis will be carried out in the context of the ECRA (European Cement Research Academy) Academic Chair « From CO2 to Energy: Carbon Capture in Cement Production and its Re-use » at the Faculty of Engineering (FPMs) of UMONS. This Chair is focusing on the study, for the application in the cement industry, of CO2 capture (post-combustion and total/partial oxy-fuel combustion), purification (de-SOx and de-NOx) and conversion (into valuable compounds such as methane or methanol). This process chain is conventionally called CCUS (Carbon Capture Utilization and/or Storage).
Since the creation of the Chair in 2013, two PhD theses have been successfully completed (ECRA Chair Phase I, 2013-2016), two other PhD Theses will be finalized by the end of 2019 (ECRA Chair Phase II, 2016-2019) and the present proposed PhD thesis is one of the two new PhD Theses that will be carried out under the ECRA Chair Phase III (2019-2022). Post-doc works are also regularly performed in parallel of PhDs.
Recruitment procedure :
Applications (CV + motivation letter showing the adequacy with the requested profile + eventual letters of recommendation) should be sent by email to both before 30 June 2019:
- Prof. Guy DE WEIRELD: email@example.com ; +32(0)65/37.42.03
- Prof. Diane THOMAS: firstname.lastname@example.org ; +32(0)65/37.44.04
- Dr Lionel DUBOIS: email@example.com ; +32(0)65/37.50.54
ECRA Academic Chair
Chemical & Biochemical Process Engineering and Thermodynamics Units
Faculty of Engineering (FPMs) – University of Mons (UMONS)
56, rue de l’Epargne
7000 Mons – BELGIUM
After a first selection based on the CV, the recruitment procedure will include minimum two interviews comprising a first remote interview by Skype or phone, and a second interview at UMONS including a short presentation.