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Reference : UMR5635-MIKBEC-003
Workplace : MONTPELLIER
Date of publication : Thursday, July 15, 2021
Scientific Responsible name : Mikhael BECHELANY
Type of Contract : PhD Student contract / Thesis offer
Contract Period : 36 months
Start date of the thesis : 1 October 2021
Proportion of work : Full time
Remuneration : 2 135,00 € gross monthly
Description of the thesis topic
Hydrogen has attracted a lot of attention in the recent years as it represents a serious alternative clean energy carrier in future. Although many technological and economical challenges still need to be solved, it has been predicted that hydrogen will be used as one of the main energy carriers in coming decades. Hydrogen is produced from sources like water, biomass or fossil fuels. Chemical reactions are therefore necessary to break apart the hydrogen bonds and release the molecular hydrogen (H2), generally obtained as a constituent within a multicomponent gas mixture. In order to provide high purity H2 to end-users, the gas mixture has to be purified with several separation techniques, i.e. usually pressure swing adsorption or filtration with porous or dense membranes. New membrane design and/or new strategies for developing affordable/robust H2-selective membranes are urgently required, preferably with an extended temperature range for gas separation operation (relevant for the focused applications) and ideally with a good resistance to carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, steam and other poisoning compounds (such as sulfur based species).
The present project embraces the “hydrogen society” concept by proposing a novel strategy for H2 separation allowing the coating of industrially relevant tubular porous ceramic substrates with highly conformal thin films of different materials aiming to their future industrial use at different temperatures. When compared to planar ceramic membranes, the tubular configuration offers a good compromise for obtaining a high active membrane area, a good packing density (surface area per m3), a good mechanical stability and also easy handling and sealing, highly relevant conditions for industrial scalability. Thus, the deposition of continuous and conformal thin films on tubular substrates will represent a real breakthrough, matching an industrial and pressing need.
In order to achieve the preparation of the above mentioned membranes, atomic layer deposition (ALD) technique will be used. ALD is a vapor phase deposition technique enabling the synthesis of ultrathin films with a subnanometer thickness control and high conformability. It is a unique technique allowing the coating of challenging 3D substrates with a conformal and uniform layer of high quality materials, which is not achievable with other deposition methods like PVD or conventional CVD. These unique characteristics make ALD appealing for applications like H2 separation membranes.
The ultimate objective of this project is to develop novel ALD routes for the fabrication of H2 separation membranes, aiming to their applicability in low, medium and high temperature ranges.
The PhD will be carried at the European Institute of Membranes (Institut Européen des Membranes, IEM, UMR5635, ENSCM, UM, CNRS) under the supervision of Dr. Mihael Bechelany. IEM is a world-leading institute in the field of membrane science with excellent technical support and in-house facilities for the fabrication and characterization of membranes. The institute is affiliated to the University of Montpellier, the National School of Chemistry of Montpellier, the CNRS and is member of the Pôle Chimie Balard.
The PhD is funded by the “Défi-clé « Hydrogène vert »” of the “Occitanie / Pyrénées-Méditerranée” region as well an ANR project in collaboration with the Laboratoire des Matériaux et du Génie Physique (LMGP), Annealsys and the Air Liquide group.
Constraints and risks
The candidate must have a Master in materials science, chemistry, nanomaterials or related fields. We are looking for a highly-motivated candidate with a strong interest in chemistry and materials science, having an experience in research laboratory or R&D and interested in transversal academic research with industrial goals. Interpersonal skills, dynamism, rigor and teamwork abilities will be appreciated. Candidates should be fluent in English. In addition, well-written English skills is highly recommended.
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