Conversion of Sulfur Rich Compounds into Sulfate as a Synthetic Strategy to Sulfuric Acid (PhD Scholarship)

Conversion of Sulfur Rich Compounds into Sulfate as a Synthetic Strategy to Sulfuric Acid

Project ID: 21077
Annual Stipend: circa £14k p.a.
Application Deadline:
3rd June 2018

(Please note that this project was initially advertised as an MRes project. Additional funding has become available to convert it to a full 3-year PhD project)

Here is an exciting opportunity to study the abstraction and transformation of sulfur from sulfur-rich materials using homogenous catalysis which could lead to an entirely new approach for industrial scale desulfurisation. This is a funded PhD, including a generous stipend and tuition fees, with well resourced circumstances for a successful scholarship.

The selected candidate will apply chemical knowledge and synthetic skills to the role and will demonstrate ambition to develop new catalytic routes for sulfur atom abstraction from sulfur rich materials. The project will entail a significant amount of synthesis and catalytic work in the laboratory as well as the characterisation of various compounds. The application of the newly developed methodologies will subsequently be explored in collaboration with the industrial partner. This close partnership, will allow the student to develop transferable knowledge and skills in this most exciting and active field of inorganic chemistry.

This Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarship (KESS) project will be held in the Computing, Engineering and Science at the University of South Wales. KESS is a programme funded by the European Social Fund (ESF) awarded by the Welsh European Funding Office (WEFO) in the Welsh Government. The project will focus on synthetic chemistry. Sulfuric acid is a valuable industrial commodity. The project will focus on providing new strategies for the synthesis of sulfuric acid derivatives initially on a small scale. It will also look at the possibilities of scaling the process to an industrial scale. The project is cosponsored by one of the world’s most innovative steel making companies, Tata Steel Strip Products, UK. The successful candidate will work closely within a chemistry research group at University of South Wales and with advisors from Tata Steel’s Port Talbot works.

Programme of research:

Sulfur containing compounds are major contaminants typically found in many raw materials. As such, their removal at various stages of production is a major issue throughout the manufacturing industry. Sulfur contamination is highly problematic and economically detrimental for several reasons. The project will aim to reduce the financial impact of sulfur contamination in two ways. The first will provide a methodology for extracting sulfur from various raw materials. This will be achieved by using transition metal catalysts which can activate carbon–sulfur bonds. The second will be to transform the eliminated sulfur into sulfuric acid or metal sulfates. As such, these strategies will reduce or eliminate sulfur contamination from a given process and additionally convert the waste by-product into a valuable commodity.


The studentship will cover the fees for a 3-year full-time PhD programme and pay a stipend of circa £14k p.a. There is also around £9k project support costs available for consumables, travel, minor equipment, training (including the KESS Grad School) and conference attendance.

The position is available from 1st October 2018.

Eligibility of Student:

To be eligible to hold a KESS studentship, you must:

  • have a home address in the Convergence area (details below)* at the time of registration.
  • have the right to take up paid work in the Convergence area* on completion of the scholarship.
  • be classified by the University as ‘home’ or ‘EU’ for tuition fees purposes according to the University’s guidelines.
  • satisfy University of South Wales’s admissions criteria: see below, qualifications and experience and application process

*The Convergence area covers West Wales and the Valleys, and is made up of the following 15 local authorities: Isle of Anglesey, Gwynedd, Conwy, Denbighshire, Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire, Swansea, Neath Port Talbot, Bridgend, Rhondda Cynon Taf, Merthyr Tydfil, Caerphilly, Blaenau Gwent and Torfaen.

Qualifications and experience:

Eligible applicants will:

  • Have a degree (2i or higher) in Chemistry
  • Possess a reasonable understanding of synthetic chemistry, catalysis and characterisation
  • Be highly self-motivated, with capacity to learn and develop new synthetic and analytical  techniques
  • Have well-developed and positively collaborative interpersonal skills
  • Have an ability to deliver technical reports and communicate findings
  • Be willing to travel and work in industrial setting

Application Process:

To download an application package, please visit:  Participant Application Package

For any queries on eligibility, please contact:  KESS Team at Research and Innovation Services, University of South Wales:  Tel: 01443 482578

For informal enquiries or further programme information, please contact: Dr. Gareth Owen (

Further information at: and

Closing date for applications: midnight Sunday 3rd June 2018

(Interview date TBC)

USW reserves the right to close the vacancy if sufficient applications are received before the deadline