CSIRO Industry PhD Program

A postgraduate scholarship

A four-year scholarship package totalling $46,000 per annum for full-time domestic PhD students studying Science (Physics, Chemistry) or Engineering (Chemical, Biomolecular). 

The CSIRO Industry PhD Program (iPhD) is a research training program, focusing on applied research that benefits industry by solving real-world challenges. It aims to produce the next generation of innovation leaders with the skills to work at the interface of research and industry in Australia.


Value Eligibility Open date Close date
$46,000 p.a. (for 4 years)
  • Domestic student
  • Enrol as a full-time PhD student studying Science (Physics, Chemistry) or  Engineering (Chemical, Biomolecular)
Accepting applications until position is filled  


  • Admission to a university PhD program.
  • Supervision by the University of Sydney, CSIRO, and an industry partner.
  • A four-year scholarship package totalling $46,000 per annum (2024 rate).  
  • A four-year Project Expense and Development package of $13,000 per annum. 
  • A three-month industry engagement component with the industry partner. 
  • A structured professional development and training program to develop your applied research skills.


Who's eligible

You must:

  • Be an Australian citizen or Permanent Resident, or a New Zealand citizen.  
  • Meet PhD admission requirements.
  • Meet university English language requirements. 
  • Not have previously completed a PhD.
  • Be able to commence the program in the year of the offer. 
  • Enrol as a full-time PhD student.
  • Be prepared to be located at the project location(s) that the host university has approved and, if required, comply with the host university’s external enrolment procedures.

The opportunity

Project title

Kinetic modelling of plasma-enhanced CO2 methanation

Project description

The growth of a new multi-billion-dollar H2 export industry is a huge opportunity for Australia. H2 uptake is heavily reliant on transportation and storage. Blending H2 into existing gas pipelines is a potential pathway, but most existing pipeline infrastructure is not suited to carry more than 15% H2 without requiring adaptation of end-user appliances. If H2 is converted to methane, existing pipelines and LNG (liquefied natural gas) transport infrastructure can be used. CSIRO is developing a novel plasma-catalysis process that can convert H2 and CO2 into high-concentration green methane at ambient conditions. The approach promises to produce a disruptive technology for H2 storage and transport, significantly reducing the cost of H2 deployment.

The PhD project aims to develop a chemical kinetic model of the plasma-catalysis process for CO2 methanation. The model will incorporate detailed reaction data for gas-phase and surface chemistry, including reactions between plasma species such as excited molecules, radicals, and electrons. The model will identify the dominant reaction pathways and rate-limiting steps, guiding efforts to optimise the process. The research promises to have a significant scientific impact since plasma catalysis is currently a 'hot' research topic, and the visibility of its application to CO2 methanation is rapidly growing.

Primary location of student

CSIRO Lindfield (Sydney)

Other potential locations

University of Sydney and CSIRO Clayton (Melbourne)

Industry engagement component location

Partly remote, with opportunity to visit GrapheneX’s offices in different states and site visits to relevant commercial, pilot and R&D facilities.

Ideal student skillset


  • An Honours degree or equivalent in chemistry, physics, or engineering. 
  • A solid foundational knowledge of physical chemistry, and experience with mathematical modelling, computer programming and/or data analysis.
  • Ability to think critically and work independently.



  • An understanding of the basics of at least some of the relevant physics or chemistry (e.g., chemical kinetics, molecular and atomic energy levels, thermodynamics, surface chemistry and catalysis)

Application process

  1. Applicants are required to submit an expression of interest (EOI) to Patrick Cullen by emailing patrick.cullen@sydney.edu.au.
  2. The EOI is assessed by the supervisory team and shortlisted applicants are interviewed. 
  3. The supervisory team nominates a preferred applicant. 
  4. The nominated applicant will be instructed to apply. 
  5. The application is then assessed by the host university against PhD admission criteria. 
  6. The university will issue a letter of offer for the program if all conditions have been satisfied. 



Patrick Cullen
School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering