Research Scholar - Development of Plasma Based Chemical Process

Brisbane, Australia
24 Aug 2017
End of advertisement period
23 Nov 2017
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Full Time

The School of Chemical Engineering 

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. Information about the Faculty and the School may be accessed on the Faculty’s web site at

Project Description

A full scholarship is available for a PhD student to conduct research on Plasma flame and plasma based reaction.

Thermal Plasma based chemical processing technology provides a unique opportunity to carry out reaction with exceptionally fast kinetics and of residence time usually in order of few millisecond. This feature has been exploited to intensify the conventional process into a low footprint skid based distributed processing plant. Such distributed plants are quickly catching the interest of small to medium mining/manufacturing industries for producing their desired chemical in-house instead of purchasing from a centralised chemical plant and transporting up to their site.

Plasma assisted acetylene production is a primary example of such compact process which could be miniaturised to fit on a skid and transported to site for on-site and on-demand production. The commonly utilised feedstock for acetylene production is CNG. However since the availability of natural gas is site-specific there is an industry need to replace it with other common hydrocarbon feedstock such as LPG, Butane or even gasoline. Unlike CNG, these long chain hydrocarbon tends to generate large amounts of soot as by-product which not only reduces the process efficiency but also increases process downtime.

This project aims to investigate the plasma reaction chemistry related to acetylene production and find practical solutions to supress the soot generation, which can be achieved by one or more methods such as rapid quenching of the product gas to shift the reaction equilibrium, optimising the average plasma gas temperature or conducting the reaction over specially designed catalysts.

In addition to the laboratory investigations, the project will be carried out in close collaboration with industry partners which will involve building pilot plants and applying the laboratory outcome on the large scale system. The overall focus of this project will be to understand the reaction chemistry and finding practical solutions that will allow the efficient design and optimization of such a system.

The Person

This project is suited for someone who have some industrial experience in process plant operation and/or design. Applicant must be hands-on and physically fit to work on pilot plant.

Applicants with demonstrated evidence of design creativity will be highly rated.

Some travel and working on mine-sites will be required as the pilot plant may be located on the mine-site.

Applicants should have a degree in either Chemical engineering, Mechanical engineering (or similar) with some background in mechanical design or process design.

Graduates with a Master’s degree and/or graduates with industry experience in the above fields are invited to apply for this scholarship.


On offer is an annual (tax-exempted) stipend of $27,000 AUD per annum for 3 years with possible extension up to 6 months at the end of 3 years. Additional, Top-Up scholarship (tax-exempted) of $3,000 to $10,000 AUD per annum may also be provided for exceptional applicants with significant industrial experience in the desired field.

Strong post-graduate employment opportunities through industry contacts.

Full fee exemption.

Travel grants for international conference.

Selected prospective students will receive assistance to apply for a Research Training Program (RTP), UQ scholarship and other PhD scholarship schemes and if successful, they would be provided a top-up scholarship over and above the standard RTP scholarship (RTP scholarship currently set at $26,682 per annum).

Submit an Expression of Interest

EOIs shall comprise:

  • A cover letter that includes a brief statement of the applicant's suitability and
  • a curriculum vitae, including a list of published works
  • a full statement of academic record, (Scanned copies of relevant certified documentation will be requested after interview)
  • contact details of two academic referees

Shortlisted candidates will be interviewed, over Skype if necessary


To discuss this role please contact Dr Pradeep Shukla on or Prof Victor Rudolph on +61 7 3365 4171 or

To submit an application for this role, use the Apply button below. All applicants must supply the following documents: Cover letter, Resume and Selection Criteria responses.

For information on completing the application process click here.