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PhD Scholarship: Future Fuels - CRC

Apply now Job No:508368
Area:Faculty Of Engineering, Architecture & Info Tech
Salary (FTE):RTP Scholarship NON-BANDED ($27,596.00 - $27,596.00)
Work type:Full Time - Scholarship
Location: St Lucia, Brisbane

The University of Queensland

The University of Queensland (UQ) contributes positively to society by engaging in the creation, preservation, transfer and application of knowledge. UQ helps shape the future by bringing together and developing leaders in their fields to inspire the next generation and to advance ideas that benefit the world. UQ strives for the personal and professional success of its students, staff and alumni. For more than a century, we have educated and worked with outstanding people to deliver knowledge leadership for a better world.

UQ ranks in the world’s top universities, as measured by several key independent ranking, including the Performance Ranking of Scientific Papers for World Universities (45), the US News Best Global Universities Rankings (52), QS World University Rankings (51), Academic Ranking of World Universities (55), and the Times Higher Education World University Rankings (60). UQ again topped the nation in the prestigious Nature Index; and secured a greater share of Australian Research Council grants in 2016 ($24.5 million) than any other university nationally.

UQ has an outstanding reputation for the quality of its teachers, its educational programs and employment outcomes for its students. Our students remain at the heart of what we do. The UQ experience –the UQ Advantage – is distinguished by a research enriched curriculum, international collaborations, industry engagement and opportunities that nurture and develop future leaders. UQ has a strong focus on teaching excellence, winning more national teaching excellence awards than any other in the country and attracting the majority of Queensland's highest academic achievers, as well as top interstate and overseas students.

UQ is one of Australia’s Group of Eight, a charter member of edX and a founding member of Universitas 21, an international consortium of leading research-intensive universities.

Our 50,000-plus strong student community includes more than 13,000 postgraduate scholars and more than 12,000 international students from 144 countries, adding to its proud 230,000-plus alumni. The University has about 7,000 academic and professional staff and a $1.7 billion annual operating budget. Its major campuses are at St Lucia, Gatton and Herston, in addition to teaching and research sites around Queensland and Brisbane city. The University has six Faculties and four University-level Institutes. The Institutes, funded by government and industry grants, philanthropy and commercialisation activities, have built scale and focus in research areas in neuroscience, biomolecular and biomedical sciences, sustainable minerals, bioengineering and nanotechnology, as well as social science research.

UQ has an outstanding track-record in commercialisation of our innovation with major technologies employed across the globe and integral to gross product sales of $11billion+ (see

Organisational Environment

The School of Chemical Engineering is an international leader in the chemical engineering field and has an excellent international reputation which has been built over four decades at the University. With 35 academic staff, including 17 professors, the School provides quality programs and leadership in chemical engineering education, research and development, and expert consulting to support the process industries.

The School conducts undergraduate teaching in the disciplines of chemical, biological, environmental and metallurgical engineering and teaches into postgraduate programs in growing fields including integrated water management and energy studies. The School’s project centered curriculum was recently chosen in a RAE & MIT study as one of six global exemplars in leading engineering education.

UQ Chemical Engineering was ranked in the top 16 worldwide in the 2012 QS subject rankings for chemical engineering and was the top ranking school in Australia. It was also given the highest score awarded for chemical engineering in Australia in the recent ERA study

Information about the School may be accessed at Infomration about the Faculty of Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology (EAIT) at

Dow Centre for Sustainable Engineering Innovation

The successful applicant will work alongside world-class researchers as a member of the Dow Centre for Sustainable Engineering Innovation (The Dow Centre).

The mission of the UQ Dow Centre is to provide thought leadership, and to facilitate innovation, in the sustainable production and use of energy and materials.

The UQ Dow Centre is committed to delivering solutions to globally significant challenges by generating and communicating new knowledge and analysis. We bring together cutting-edge science, multidisciplinary research and systems analysis, along with world-class education to deliver innovations which have a significant impact on both sustainability and the economy.

The Low-CO2 Hydrogen and Fuels program seeks to develop new processes which produce hydrogen, syngas and other future fuels. Methane pyrolysis using molten metals and molten salts is a promising alternative pathway for hydrogen production without CO2 emissions. Likewise dry reforming of methane in molten metals and salts is a promising pathway for CO2 utilisation to make higher value hydrocarbons. The intended impact of this research program is a suite of future fuels, chemicals and solid carbons without making CO2 during the process and perhaps even consuming it as a feedstock.

Information about the Dow Centre may be accessed at

Future Fuels CRC

The Future Fuels Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) reflects the vision of Australia’s gas and pipelines sector, focusing on the pivotal role that new fuels and the existing gas infrastructure will have to play in a low carbon economy. The Future Fuels CRC will enable the Australian gas and pipeline industry to provide a competitive, low carbon energy alternative for residential, commercial, industrial and transport sectors to complement and support intermittent renewable electricity generation.

Significant opportunity exists to adapt existing gas infrastructure for the production, transport, storage and use of more sustainable “future fuels” such as hydrogen, biogas and liquid derivatives like ammonia and methanol that can meet a significant part of local demand and generate export opportunities. Gas infrastructure can also increase the utilisation of renewable generation by storing clean gas manufactured during periods of surplus generation for later use.

The Future Fuels CRC will develop solutions for current infrastructure and equipment to use low carbon fuels today and well into the future. Collaborating with over 60 companies, 6 universities, the energy market operator and 2 regulators, low carbon fuels offer increasing potential to store and deliver reliable, clean, secure, and affordable energy to Australian consumers.

As a participant in the Future Fuels CRC, The UQ Dow Centre will contribute to the Future Fuels CRC through Program 1: Future fuel technologies, systems and markets, which focuses on the understanding of the technical, commercial and market barriers to, and opportunities for, the use of future fuels.

Further information about the Future Fuels CRC may be accessed at

Research Area

Hydrogen is widely seen as the energy carrier of the future, either by itself or in the form of ammonia and exotic fluids like hydrazine. It is also the critical component in syngas, the feedstock for synthetic fuels like methanol, diesel or jet fuel.

Hydrogen production without CO2 emissions and its large-scale storage is a critical challenge for the production of future fuels future fuels in the industrial, power and transport sectors. Conventional approaches to hydrogen production utilise fossil fuel (mainly natural gas) reforming and produce significant CO2 emissions.

The most prospective current option to decarbonise hydrogen production from natural gas involves methane reforming coupled with CO2 capture and sequestration (CCS). This can be costly or unavailable due to the lack of suitable geology. Alternatively, hydrogen can be produced using electrolysis but such processes are prohibitively expensive. New ways of producing low cost hydrogen without CO2 are therefore vital.

CO2 capture and sequestration (CCS) could reduce this CO2 by up to 90% but sequestration opportunities are likely to be limited by geology or public acceptance. Methane pyrolysis to produce molecular hydrogen offers a direct and cost-effective means of producing hydrogen without CO2.

This project will investigate and demonstrate at laboratory scale, novel processes for the production of near-zero CO2 hydrogen and fuels from natural gas through methane pyrolysis.

The role

The successful candidate(s) will undertake work and receive training across:

1) Methane Pyrolysis (H2) – This project looks at using molten metal and molten salt mixtures to pyrolyse methane into H2 and solid carbon. The project will focus on the characterisation and optimisation of metal/salt systems for enhanced conversion and improved separation of hydrogen. The student will learn techniques related to in-situ measurement of reaction mechanisms and kinetics, gas bubble characteristics, and the solubility of gases in the molten metal and salt mixtures.

2) Methane Pyrolysis (Carbon) – This project looks at using molten metal and molten salt mixtures to pyrolyse methane into H2 and solid carbon. The project will focus on the characterisation and optimisation of metal/salt systems for tailored production of various carbon morphologies. The student will learn techniques related to carbon characterisation, electron microscopy, in-situ measurement of reaction mechanisms and kinetics, gas bubble characteristics, and the solubility of carbon in the molten salt mixtures.

All students who work in the FFCRC program will be be obligated to 

  • contribute their knowledge to the FFCRC Annual Research Conference through posters, presentations, demonstrations and participating in discussions and workshops; and
  • participate in a Professional Skills Development Program that will enhance their ability to enter workplaces, or advance further in a research organisation.  Regular workshops are held to develop skills around communication, project management, people management, research impact, and innovation and creativity, leadership and collaboration.  The workshops are also an excellent opportunity to share experiences and learn about other student’s research and will often involve PhD students from another CRC or similar organisations, and participants from Industry.

These professional skills can then be put into practice through placements or internships, where PhD students work closely with industry and government agencies on relevant projects.  As well as contributing to a specific project, PhD students bring significant expertise and fresh perspectives to host organisations, while in return gaining hands on experience, mentorship and networking.

Other opportunities to develop expertise and networks may also provided here students are sponsored to attend conferences, work with internationally recognised research groups and seek out innovative new ideas in their area of research. 

FFCRC students will benefit from being part of an organisation that links research and industry, and engages with the broader community, so they can experience different working environments and be part of research that has a meaningful impact. The CRC encourages students where possible to have both academic and industry-based supervisors to enhance their research experience.

The person

The candidate(s) will have a master’s degree or 1st Class Honours degree or equivalent in chemical engineering.

Domestic applicants should be eligible for an Australian Postgraduate Award (APA) or equivalent (for more information, please visit:

International applicants must meet the University of Queensland's English Language Proficiency (ELP) requirements detailed at


The base stipend will be at the rate of AUD $27,082 per annum (2019 rate) tax-free for three years plus $6,000 per annum with the possibility of a six month extension in approved circumstances.

Mandatory requirements for international applicants

1. Peer-reviewed high quality journal publications or demonstrated practical experience in the relevant field; and

2. Excellent academic performance evidenced by a high Grade Point Average (GPA).

Desirable requirements for international applicants

1. At least 1 high quality research publication where the applicant is the main author.


To discuss this role please contact Dr Simon Smart (, Associate Professor within the UQ School of Chemical Engineering and Research Program Leader for the Low-CO2 Hydrogen and Fuels program within the Dow Centre for Sustainable Engineering Innovation.

Applications Close:  16 September 2019


To be eligible, you must meet the entry requirements for a higher degree by research.

Want to Apply?

To apply for this admission and scholarship please visit –

Applications close: E. Australia Standard Time

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