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Doctoral student (M/F) in electrocatalysis for conversion of biomass

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

Date Limite Candidature : mercredi 4 novembre 2020

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General information

Reference : UMR7515-ELESAV-001
Date of publication : Wednesday, October 14, 2020
Scientific Responsible name : Elena Savinova
Type of Contract : PhD Student contract / Thesis offer
Contract Period : 36 months
Start date of the thesis : 1 December 2020
Proportion of work : Full time
Remuneration : 2 135,00 € gross monthly

Description of the thesis topic

The topic « Electrocatalytic conversion of glucose into gluconic acid and sorbitol on Ni based electrodes ».
The context: Lignocellulosic biomass issued from non-edible agricultural (waste), forestry and marine feedstocks is a renewable and almost inexhaustible carbon resource for sustainable production of fine chemicals. Its major component is cellulose which can be depolymerized into glucose and soluble oligosaccharides. Gluconic acid and sorbitol belong to the top-30 list of value-added chemicals that can be obtained from biomass. They can be used as such in food and pharmaceutical industry, in cosmetics and as concrete admixture, or as building blocks in numerous industrial applications: syntheses of bio-sourced chemicals and polymers, chelating agents, etc
Growth of the renewable electricity production in the last decade has greatly increased the attractivity of electrochemical methods for biomass conversion. However the development of noble metal free electrode materials, which are tolerant to poisoning and allow selective production of value-added chemicals from glucose with low electric energy consumption is still a challenge.
Goals and workplan: In the PhD project, the kinetics and the mechanism of both glucose oxidation reaction (GOR) to gluconate and glucose reduction reaction (GRR) to sorbitol will be investigated on Ni-based electrodes in alkaline media. The electrocatalytic activity of Ni can be tuned by controlling its surface state or by alloying Ni with other elements such as Cu, Cr or Mo. The PhD work will comprise the preparation of Ni based electrodes, their characterization by physical and electrochemical methods, and the study of the reaction mechanism combining electrochemical measurements, operando FTIRS, analytical tools (HPLC, NMR, online Differential Electrochemical Mass Spectrometry), and modeling in order to propose knowledge-based means to improve activity, selectivity and stability to poisoning of Ni-based GOR and GRR catalysts.

Work Context

The thesis will be supervised by Prof. Elena Savinova and Dr. Gwenaëlle Kéranguéven at the Institute of Chemistry and Processes for Energy Environment and Health (UMR 7515, CNRS- University of Strasbourg) in the team « Electrochemistry and Energy Conversion » and by Dr. Antoine Bonnefont at the Institute of Chemistry of Strasbourg (UMR 7177, CNRS- University of Strasbourg). It will benefit from the numerous characterization, electrochemical and spectroscopic techniques available at ICPEES and Institute of Chemistry.
The PhD candidate should be higly motivated, experimentally rigourous and enthusiastic student in physical chemistry and electrochemistry, with excellent academic track record. It is desirable that the candidate has a genuine interest for interdisciplinary projects, spanning from fundamental research to applications. English proficiency is required.

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