Many chemical processes rely on catalysts to enhance reaction rates and their development from a Material Science and Chemistry standpoint is constantly improving, this PhD (or MSc by Research – MRes) will investigate developing porous catalytic foams using novel methods, with cheap precursors, via sustainable and resource efficient routes. These foams have the advantage of addressing the heat and mass transfer limitations of conventional reactors and materials. The application of these foams is envisioned to be focused around hydrogen production but avoiding the use of rare earth elements.

Catalysts are an utterly vital tool in chemical processes and are used extensively in industry, however many commercial catalysts are made cheaply and as such have poor heat and mass transfer properties. The student working on this project will develop new porous catalytic foams, which thus far have been too expensive to use in industry because of their manufacturing process.


These new porous catalytic foams will be produced via a new method under trail at Cranfield University, which has been shown to be more environmentally friendly and cost effective compared to traditional manufacturing methods. These porous catalytic foams will be characterised and tested to produce hydrogen in the sorption enhanced steam methane reforming process.


The successful candidate will work within Cranfield’s state-of-the-art energy research facilities, where we own and conduct research on the UK’s largest chemical and calcium looping facilities. This research supports existing work going on within the Energy and Power department at Cranfield University and is a unique take the problem at hand. Cranfield University has an outstanding academic reputation, which is bolstered by our close relations with industry. The research our students carry out for industry, government and businesses provides them with a real-world learning environment, allowing them to develop as professionals and then transfer their knowledge into the global economy.


This research and development project into catalytic foams will lead to enhanced process productivity and selectivity, increased process efficiency, and reduced operating costs. The student involved in this research will be expected contribute to several high-impact publications, conference presentations, and will influence the direction of future grant proposals.

Funding is available for the student to attend international conferences and network meetings (both are highly encouraged). In addition, specific software and reactor operation training will be provided.

It is expected that the student will publish academic journal papers, attend international and national conferences, and will gain a multitude of transferable technical and managerial skills throughout their PhD applicable in both industry and academia. PhD’s are widely recognised as being key qualifications for future employment in areas including academia, industry, consultancy, and research and development. It is hoped that the outcomes of this research will lead to patents or spin-out businesses.

At a glance

  • Application deadlineOngoing
  • Award type(s)PhD, MSc by Research
  • Start dateAs soon as possible
  • Duration of award3 years
  • EligibilityUK, EU, Rest of World
  • Reference numberSWEE0092


Dr Peter Clough and Dr Joy Sumner

Entry requirements

Applicants should have a first- or second-class UK honours degree or equivalent in a related discipline. This project would suit motivated individuals with a background in Chemistry, Material Science, Chemical Engineering or similar. Industrial or research experience is highly valued.



Any person from any nationality is eligible to apply.


Cranfield Doctoral Network

Research students at Cranfield benefit from being part of a dynamic, focused and professional study environment and all become valued members of the Cranfield Doctoral Network. This network brings together both research students and staff, providing a platform for our researchers to share ideas and collaborate in a multi-disciplinary environment. It aims to encourage an effective and vibrant research culture, founded upon the diversity of activities and knowledge. A tailored programme of seminars and events, alongside our Doctoral Researchers Core Development programme (transferable skills training), provide those studying a research degree with a wealth of social and networking opportunities.

How to apply

For further information please contact: Dr Peter Clough
Name: Dr Peter Clough
T: (0) 1234 750111 Ext: 4873

If you are eligible to apply, please complete the online application form stating the reference No. SWEE0092

For further information contact us today:
T: +44 (0)1234 758082