Open Positions

Funded PhD Studentships (2x)

Developing sustainable electrocatalytic chemical synthesis from captured CO2

Humanity’s demand for fuels and chemicals is rapidly increasing, driven by a growing population and global demands for an improved quality of life. This demand must be rationalised against our need to drastically reduce our carbon emissions, reaching net zero by 2050 to mitigate the effects on climate change. The chemicals industry is a “hard to decarbonise” sector as its high embedded carbon comes from its intensive energy use and fossil fuels feedstocks. While carbon capture and utilisation separately are developing at pace, their integration still poses challenges with a significant gap to bridge between the state-of-the-art in each field to achieve the economically viable production of value-added chemicals from captured CO2

This project aims to improve the performance of CO2 reduction from captured CO2 through a holistic approach, combining multiple experimental and computational techniques to expand the scope of chemical synthesis, in particular C-N bond formation from captured CO2.

Major activities will include:

1)   Design and rapid prototyping of new electrolyser architectures and electrodes

2)   Integration of catalysts for the co-reduction of CO2 and nitrates to form amide products.

3)   Waste upcycling (such as biomass oxidation) at the anode.

The successful candidate will participate in both fundamental and applied catalysis research. This will include experimental electrochemistry, catalyst and electrode materials development, and rapid prototyping (3D printing). There will also be the opportunity to learn and use multiphysics modelling techniques alongside the core experimental focus of this project.


Applicants should have, or expect to achieve, at least a 2.1 honours degree or a Master’s in Chemistry, Chemical Engineering or other related discipline.


We strongly recommend that you contact the Dr Cobb before you apply at This will then be followed by a formal application through the University of Manchester online application portal.


Departmental funding will cover fees and provide a tax free stipend of at least £18,622 per year. If you are not eligible for this, at Manchester we offer a range of scholarships, studentships and awards at university, faculty and department level, to support both UK and overseas postgraduate researchers, please see the project description for further details. The duration of the PhD project is 3.5 years and the start date is 1st October 2024. 

External Advert (FindaPhD) (please note- this is currently listed as Prof. R Dryfe as supervisor due to Dr Cobb joining Manchester in February 2024)