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PhD researcher on the Direct (photo)electrocatalytic conversion of N2 into decarbonized ammonia

This offer is available in the following languages:
Français - Anglais

Date Limite Candidature : lundi 22 août 2022

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General information

Reference : UMR5635-YAOHOL-002
Date of publication : Monday, August 1, 2022
Scientific Responsible name : Yaovi HOLADE
Type of Contract : PhD Student contract / Thesis offer
Contract Period : 36 months
Start date of the thesis : 1 November 2022
Proportion of work : Full time
Remuneration : 2 135,00 € gross monthly

Description of the thesis topic

This PhD project will be conducted jointly within the framework of the Hydrogen Recovery Plan (PEPR-Decarbonized Hydrogen, GREENH3 project) and the "Key Challenge Green Hydrogen" of the Occitanie Region. The general objective of the thesis project is the (photo)electrosynthesis of green ammonia having strategic, societal and economic significance, by: (i) developing new electrode materials without noble metals, (ii) identifying the most promising phases by advanced (photo)electrocatalytic studies, (iii) validating (photo)electrolysis cells, (iv) interacting with the theoretical partners of the GREENH3 consortium.
The conversion of atmospheric nitrogen into green ammonia is a decarbonized alternative to the current Haber-Bosch process that consumes about 1% of the world's energy and contributes almost 1.5% to global CO2 emissions. Actually, ammonia, which can be decomposed to produce decarbonized H2, is a chemical product of strategic, societal and economic relevance for various industrial applications such as fertilizers, power plants and fuel cells. This decarbonized pathway remains, for the moment, beyond reach due to the lack of fundamental knowledge regarding the parameters that dictate the activity, selectivity and durability of (photo)electrocatalysts. Indeed, the reduction of nitrogen (NRR, N2 + 6H+ + 6e- → 2NH3) is an electrochemical process involving a cascade of elementary steps that are currently poorly mastered to achieve a better compromise between selectivity, productivity and stability. The thesis project will be conducted in synergy with a partner of the GREENH3 consortium who will provide ionic liquid electrolytes to manage the competitive H2 evolution reaction (HER, 2H+ + 2e- → H2).

Work Context

- The PhD student will be enrolled in the Doctoral School 459 Balard Chemical Sciences of the University of Montpellier. The thesis project will be conducted jointly at the European Membrane Institute (IEM, Joint Research Unit, UMR 5635, Univ Montpellier, ENSCM, CNRS) and the Molecular Electrochemistry Laboratory (LEM, Joint Research Unit, Université Paris Cité, CNRS, UMR 7591). So, research mobility will be necessary between the two laboratories.

- Co-direction of the thesis between Montpellier and Paris. The thesis supervisors will be Marc ROBERT (Professor, Université Paris Cité and Institut Universitaire de France) and Yaovi HOLADE (Associate Professor, École Nationale Supérieure de Chimie de Montpellier (ENSCM)). Thus, the PhD Research will benefit from a complementary work environment for the research training in addition to 100 hours of complementary training in his/her curriculum among the courses offered by the Doctoral School.

Constraints and risks

- Handling of chemical products in compliance with health and safety regulations
- Travel between the two laboratories for research and internationally for conferences or research stays

Additional Information

Sought Profile: The candidate has a Master's degree in chemistry, physical chemistry or materials science. A first experience with electrochemical characterization methods or in synthesis and characterization of nanomaterials would be highly appreciated. Outstanding in experimental laboratory work, curiosity, rigor, initiative and autonomy. Excellent commands in written and oral communication are expected. The PhD candidate should enjoy teamwork.

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