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PhD Scholarships in Ammonia Electrosynthesis

An exciting opportunity exists for two gifted candidates interested in undertaking a PhD in the field of physical chemistry at Monash University while working towards a project “Ammonia Production from Renewables at Ambient Temperature and Pressure: Developing a process for reduction of nitrogen to ammonia” funded by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA). This project will develop efficient electrode/catalyst combinations for the technology of electrolytic reduction of dinitrogen to ammonia invented and patented by Monash University. The work will involve two PhD projects, which will be undertaken under the supervision of Prof. Douglas R. MacFarlane and Dr. Alexandr N. Simonov.

PhD project #1: Catalyst design

The work will involve development, synthesis, and thorough testing of new metal-based catalysts for N2 electroreduction. The aim is to substantially increase the rate and the selectivity of the process currently available with the state of the art iron and ruthenium monometallic electrocatalysts via doping and/or mixing with other elements and/or compounds. Strategies for the immobilisation of new catalysts on high surface area substrates will be also investigated. A critical feature of the project will be comprehensive characterisation of the catalysts using a wide range of ex situ physical methods, as well as in situ specotroscopic techniques.

PhD project #2: Ammonia electrosynthesis at elevated pressure and temperature

The project will focus on the electrochemical nitrogen reduction reaction kinetics and selectivity as a function of pressure and temperature. To work will include both extensive experimental tests and theoretical simulation and modelling studies. In particular, DFT calculations of molecular level interactions between reactant, product(s), electrolyte, solvent and catalysts will be undertaken to lend insights into the reaction mechanism and predict the effects of system parameters (pressure, temperature, concentrations) on the efficiency of the process. This will facilitate guided electrolyte and catalyst design which will be important for other aspects of the project.


Clayton campus, Monash University


$27 353 AUD per annum full-time rate (tax-free stipend for 3 years)

For international applicants, scholarships can also include the Monash University international student fees (40 300 AUD per annum)

Candidate requirements

  1. Successful applicants will have an excellent academic track record in chemistry or physics, with an Honours or Masters degree with H1 or equivalent
  2. A strong interest in physical chemistry at university level is critical
  3. For PhD project #1 – interest/experience in physical characterisation of materials is highly desirable       
    For PhD project #2 – interest/experience in simulation and modelling is highly desirable
  4. Excellent written and verbal communication skills
  5. Ability to work independently as well as in a team
  6. Ability to plan, organise and manage multiple tasks and meet deadlines
  7. Evidence of data analysis and interpretation skills and experience with statistical analysis is desirable
  8. Experience or understanding of qualitative research would be an advantage
  9. Candidates will be required to meet Monash entry requirements which include English-language skills
  10. Scholarship holders must be enrolled full-time and on-campus

Applications and further information

To submit an expression of interest application, please email the following documents to Dr. Alexandr N. Simonov <> as PDF attachments:

  • Cover letter (one A4 page maximum)
  • Curriculum Vitae (one A4 page maximum + publication list, if applicable)
  • Copy of academic transcripts (university level qualifications)
  • IELTS test results if applicable (>6.0 score)


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