Fully funded 48-months PhD studentships available at the EPSRC and SFI CDT in Sustainable Chemistry

The EPSRC and SFI Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Sustainable Chemistry: Atoms-2-Products would like to invite suitably qualified and highly motivated applicants interested in working in one of four thematic areas: Spectroscopy for Process Intensification and Optimisation; Batteries for a Sustainable Future; Chemical and Biological Recycling of Plastics; and Dial-A-Catalyst.

CDT Training Programme

Students will undertake a 4-year PhD programme, where the first year allows them to build strong background knowledge in their chosen Research Theme as well as to benefit from multi-disciplinary Core training activities including Introduction to Sustainability, Entrepreneurial Skills and Responsible Research and Innovation. The programme is delivered through a combination of lectures, workshops, group activities and lab sessions.

Over the remaining three years, students will continue to be exposed to cross-disciplinary training and research, and can access a range of professional skills and career development opportunities. 

CDT Research Themes for academic year 2020/21 

Applications are invited to one of the following Research Themes:

Spectroscopy for Process Intensification and Optimisation 

We are seeking to recruit highly motivated students who are eager to work in a multi-disciplinary team involving mathematicians, chemists, physicists, and engineers to develop fully automated multi-step flow photochemical and electrochemical manufacturing processes.  This goal is important because chemical manufacturing is moving towards smaller scale production of a larger number of compounds, leaving less time for process development while still being under pressure to reduce costs and increase production flexibility and efficiency. With the growing interest in sustainability, effective reaction monitoring and rapid process optimisation are crucial for future manufacturing.

This Theme focusses on combining Process Analytical Technology and self-optimisation AI to accelerate efficient chemical manufacturing on the kilogram scale in continuous photo-, electro-, and thermal chemistry processes.  It will blend fundamental science with real world applications to deliver things that are genuinely new. 

The students whom we recruit will gain broad experience in many different areas including:

  • Flow chemistry
  • Process modelling
  • Photo-/electro-chemistry
  • A large variety of spectroscopy including UV/visible, Infrared, Raman and ultrafast time-resolved techniques
  • Interaction with both academia and industry

For further information please contact Spectroscopy for Process Intensification and Optimisation Theme Lead Prof Mike George on or 0115 951 3512.

Batteries for a Sustainable Future

Lithium-ion batteries have revolutionized modern life but they are reaching their performance limits. This Research Theme will work towards the development of the next-generation of sustainable battery technologies. The new batteries will have higher energy densities than those of lithium-ion and are necessary for the widespread electrification of transportation.

  • Outline of Theme-specific training activities:
  • Formal training in state-of-the-art battery science
  • Sustainable chemistry
  • Electrochemistry
  • 3D printing
  • Gas separation science

Projects are available in the development of sustainable electrolytes and additives, catalysis, gas scrubbers and cell architecture. Our multidisciplinary team includes experts in chemistry, chemical engineering, manufacturing and physics, and we will collaborate with a range of industrial and academic collaborators. Nottingham is a leading partner in the Faraday Institution, the UK’s national battery research initiative. Projects will align with Faraday Institution goals and students will have the opportunity to collaborate within the network.
 For further information please contact Batteries for a Sustainable Future Research Theme Lead Dr Lee Johnson on or 0115 748 7069.


 “Dial-A-Catalyst” is focussed on the development of the new generation of nanocatalysts that combine the best features of homogenous (high activity and selectivity) and heterogeneous catalyst (high stability and recyclability) and their application in some of the most important reactions for the chemical industry (e.g. CO2 utilisation and ammonia synthesis). The unique catalytic properties of the novel nanocatalysis will be evaluated by: (i)- in situ and in operando methods, to understand the interaction between metals and small molecules (e.g. CO2, N2, H2), ii- in catalytic reactions using batch and flow reactors at the laboratory level and at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory and Siemens semi-industrial nanocatalyst test facility. In this project, we (PhD students and academic mentors) will make a step change in the design and fabrication of nanocatalysts solving a number of challenges of the chemical industry.

Outline of Theme-specific training activities:

  • A large range of synthetic and characterisation methods using cutting edge instrumentation at UoN and Diamond Light Source.
  • Undertake quantum chemical and molecular dynamics computations
  • Industrial training at Siemens/Rutherford Appleton Laboratory Green Ammonia Pilot Plant facility

Available research areas

  • Nanocatalysts: design and synthesis
  • Spectroscopy: studying interactions of metal clusters with small molecules
  • Modelling/computation of materials and catalytic reactions
  • Catalytic processes: e.g. CO2 utilization, ammonia synthesis

For further information please contact Dial a Catalyst Research Theme Lead Dr Jesum Alves Fernandes on or Prof Tim Wright on or 0115 846 7076.

Chemical and Biological Recycling of Plastics

Many plastic waste streams are not suitable for mechanical recycling, and chemical and biological recycling technologies need significant development to become part of the mainstream solution to the plastics crisis.  This theme will work to provide understanding of how different plastics waste streams can be processed, and what sort of new products can be formed (e.g. monomers, platform chemicals, functional porous materials).  This is a complex and multidisciplinary challenge with the potential to generate cutting-edge fundamental research while working with industrial partners to find solutions to the global challenge of plastic waste. 

Candidates from a wide range of backgrounds including chemistry, chemical engineering, computational modelling and biochemistry are invited to apply.

Outline of Theme-specific training activities:

  • Polymer chemistry
  • Processing technologies including microwave, enzymatic and supercritical fluids
  • Valorising products via recovery of oligomers, monomers and functionalised materials
  • Enzyme discovery, production and characterisation
  • Advanced spectroscopic techniques
  • Plastics in the circular economy and life cycle analysis

Available research areas include:

  • Enzymatic polymer degradation and enzymatic valorisation of the resulting stream
  • Novel recycling routes enabled by the unique properties of supercritical fluids
  • Developing microwave technologies for polymer recycling
  • Characterisation and exploitation of landfill plastics

For further information please contact Chemical and Biological Recycling of Plastics Theme Lead Dr Eleanor Binner on or 0115 74 84960.

Benefits of studying with us:

  • An extensive training and development programme
  • Collaboration in smaller multidisciplinary Theme-specific groups
  • Being part of a Cohort of students and peer support
  • Opportunity of an external internship as an integral part of the programme
  • A consumables and conference attendance budget
  • A stipend of £15,285pa 

Application criteria

Candidates should hold one of the following:

- A minimum of an upper second-class honours degree from a 4-year undergraduate course, or equivalent in Chemistry, Biochemistry, Chemical Engineering, Physics, Mathematics, Biosciences, Natural Sciences, Biotechnology, Pharmacy or a closely related subject.

- A 3-year undergraduate course in one of the above disciplines plus a Masters degree and/or at least one year’s experience in industry.

How to apply

The application process involves two steps:

1) Completion of the CDT application form

Please ensure that we receive your CDT application form, CV and two references through the following email address: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Please email the reference form to your referees (at least one of which should be from an academic in your current/most recent academic institution) ensuring that they complete and return them directly to the email address above.

2) University of Nottingham online application

Please ensure that you select ‘references to be submitted separately’ option in the reference information section when completing the online form.

We have filled all CDT places for academic year 2020/21.  Our recruitment for academic year 2021/22 will commence in October 2020. 

Completion of CDT Form

CDT form

Reference form

Completion of University of Nottingham Online Application Form

Apply now


New CDT Publication

New CDT Publication

23 Jun 2020

Congratulations to Cohort 3 CDT student Rhydian Beddoe on his recent publication featured on the front page of the Chemical Communications


Wonder 2019 - celebrating the Year of the Periodic Table

Wonder 2019 - celebrating the Year of the Periodic Table

26 Jun 2019

Our students enjoy discussing sustainable chemistry and engineering with members of the general public in Nottingham.