Design of novel catalysts and investigation of reaction mechanisms for catalytic conversion of NH3 and NOx

Start date

1 October 2024


3.5 years

Application deadline

Funding source

UKRI and/or University of Surrey

Funding information

We are offering the UKRI standard stipend (currently £18,622 per year) with an additional bursary of £1,700 per year for full 3.5 years for exceptional candidates. In addition, a research, training and support grant of £3,000 over the project is also offered. Full home or overseas tuition fees (as applicable) will be covered.


A fully funded PhD studentship is available in the area of hydrogen and ammonia as future fuels for achieving net-zero. This PhD project is associated with a significant five-year UKRI EPSRC funded programme UK-HyRES – Driving the growth of low carbon hydrogen and alternative liquid fuels. UK-HyRES aims to define and tackle the research challenges blocking the wider use of low carbon fuels in the UK ( The PhD candidate will join a wide researcher network on the Hub and will have opportunities to collaborate with other UK academic partners and industry partners.  

 ​The PhD student will be based within the School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering (SCCE) at the University of Surrey, and will have opportunity to interact with a vibrant Sustainable Energy and Materials research team of 15 academics and more than 50 PhD and postdoc researchers who are working on computational design, synthesis, and application of advanced functional materials for energy conversion and storage applications including catalysis, batteries, fuel cells, and hydrogen electrolysers.  

​We are looking for a highly motivated candidate with strong interest in catalysis and hydrogen economy to take up this exciting PhD project. You will collaborate with one postdoctoral researcher and a few PhD students who focus on experimental synthesis and testing of catalysts for selective conversion of ammonia to hydrogen and nitrogen, and conversion of NOx to N2. In this PhD project, you will use computational modelling tools such as those based on density functional theory (DFT) to help design novel catalysts and reveal fundamental reaction mechanisms. You will be supported by two postdocs who have extensive experience in catalysis and computational materials modelling using DFT and MD throughout your PhD project.  

​The University of Surrey is ranked 13th in the UK in the recent Complete University Guide, and was awarded The University of the Year for Graduate Employment in 2021. You will be well supported for your PhD journey and your career development with comprehensive tailor-designed training programme, mentoring schemes, and one-to-one career advice and support offered to all researchers within the University of Surrey.  

Eligibility criteria

Open to both UK and international candidates.

Up to 30% of our UKRI-funded studentships can be awarded to candidates paying international rate fees. Find out more about eligibility.

You will need to meet the minimum entry requirements for our PhD programme.

Applicants must hold (or close to the completion of) a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree by September 2024, in any of the following disciplines: Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, Material Science, Physics or other relevant major degrees. Prior experience in research projects is desirable but not essential.  

How to apply

Applications should be submitted via the Chemical and Process Engineering Research PhD programme page. In place of a research proposal, you should upload a document stating the title of the project that you wish to apply for and the name of the relevant supervisor.

​Before you apply, please send your CV (with details of educational background, academic achievements, and any research experience) to Professor Qiong Cai () to discuss the suitability of your academic background for this PhD project.

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Application deadline

Contact details

Qiong Cai
12 BC 02
Telephone: +44 (0)1483 686561

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