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PhD student-Department of Chemical engineering and technical chemistry, Belgium


Process Analysis for Oxidative Coupling of Methane based on Microkinetic Modeling: Impact of Catalyst Properties and Reactor Configurations


A quantified understanding of the dominant factors in oxidative coupling of methane, ranging from catalyst properties as determined by the catalyst descriptors to alternative reactor configurations.


Oxidative Coupling of Methane (OCM) remains intriguing as an alternative reaction for natural gas valorisation. Despite decades of research into this reaction, today only a single commercial implementation has been claimed, i.e., the one by Siluria. Key features of that implementation are (i) adiabatic reactor technology, (ii) low light-off temperature and (iii) catalyst stability rather than elevated C2 yields or selectivities (per pass).

Total has interest in exploring and evaluating alternative technologies, such as OCM, for chemicals and fuels production. Ghent University has a proven track record in quantifying elementary phenomena in large-scale chemical reactions, among others for OCM. The corresponding microkinetic model for OCM developed at Ghent University has been embedded in a reactor model accounting for the most essential phenomena as they occur in an isothermal, laboratory scale reactor. Among others, these include the simultaneous occurrence of catalytic and gas phase reactions, transport phenomena in the catalyst pores as well as in the interstitial phase between the catalyst pellets, etc… Total and Ghent University are teaming up now to reach a better understanding of how OCM and economic viability go hand in hand by exploring industrially relevant reactor configurations and evaluating how optimal catalyst properties may depend on the selected reactor configuration.


The planned activities for the PhD program have been logically combined into 3 work packages (WP) focusing on the reactor model, the kinetics and the ‘process’ integrating the kinetics and the reactor. These 3 WPs will potentially be complemented by a 4th WP on measuring low temperature OCM activity


1. WP1: reactor model construction/enhancement

a. Adiabatic reactor model

b. Heat transport phenomena

c. Fluidized bed reactor model


2. WP2: (catalytic) kinetics model assessment

a. Principal component analysis for the model simulations with respect to the catalyst descriptors

b. Reaction network assessment in view of light-off temperature and interplay between exothermic (OCM) and endothermic reactions (reforming reactions, CO and/or CO2 as oxidant)

c. Determination of the C2 yield/selectivity at the relevant catalyst descriptor values


3. WP3: process configuration optimization

a. Comparison of the simulations results obtained within an isothermal, laboratory-scale reactor with an adiabatic reactor and a fluidized bed reactor

b. Feed composition effects/Alternative process configurations (recycle/added components)

c. Catalyst bed composition optimization


Advisors: Prof. Joris Thybaut, Prof. Guy B. Marin

Funding: Total

Profile of the candidate

Applicants must possess a MSc in Chemical Engineering or related subject and a TOEFL certificate with a minimum score of 95(iBT) or equivalent. Relevant experience in the area of reactor engineering, kinetics, and/or computational chemistry is strongly recommended. Candidates must have a strong mathematical background and be willing to focus on obtaining quantitative rather than qualitative results.

How to apply

Any additional information can be obtained by contacting . Any application should enclose a C.V., a one page justification of your interest and the e-mail addresses of at least two references.

Further Information

Application Deadline : 24 May 2016

PhD student-Department of Chemical engineering and technical chemistry : PDF

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Posted on 2016-05-06 02:22:27

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