PhD Studentship: Composite Thermal Storage Materials Fabrication Using Cold Sintering Approach

University of Birmingham - School of Chemical Engineering

Applications are invited for a postgraduate research position leading to a PhD degree in School of Chemical Engineering at the University of Birmingham.

Thermal energy storage [TES] provides a unique approach for efficient and effective peak-shaving of electricity and heat demand, efficient use of low grade waste heat and renewable energy, low-cost high efficiency carbon capture, and distributed energy and backup energy systems. However, competitive TES materials require a number of scientific and technological challenges to be addressed to meet the conflicting requirements of high energy density, small exergy loss, and high charging/discharging rate.  This project aims to fundamentally explore the techniques of composite TES material fabrication using a highly innovative approach named ‘cold sintering’ to achieve high energy density, great durability and long lifespan, improved thermal property, and low costs. Cold sintering is a novel technique using a transient acidic or aqueous media as the solvent to intensify the densification of inorganic materials and ceramic-based composites, via a mediated dissolution-precipitation process at low temperatures. Such an approach offers the potential for step-change of composite TES materials fabrication as the phase change materials stay solid state during the fabrication process at low temperature. In this project the PhD student need to carry out mainly experimental investigation using our proven routes to investigate the cold sintering mechanism of multi-component and also the key process parameters on the cold sintering which will affect the microstructures and eventually the mechanical/thermal properties of the composite TES materials. The focus of the work will be on:[1] particle adhesion and moistening, [2] the diffusion processes of the solvent in and around the interfaces, and [3] the precipitation and epitaxy growth at the surface of particles. The experimental work will be processed within the brand new well-founded cryogenic lab [Birmingham Centre for Energy Storage: http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/research/activity/energy/research/centre-energy-storage/cryogenic-energy-storage/index.aspx].

Eligibility requirements:

To undertake this research, we are seeking a motivated candidate with a first class degree or upper second [or equivalent for non-UK students] or a combination of qualification and professional experience equivalent to that level, in Chemical Engineering or Material Science and/or Engineering. Independent work, self-motivation, good team spirit and excellent communication skills are important assets of the successful candidate. The candidate has to demonstrate proof of proficiency in English if applicable. Candidate with some knowledge and experience in composite material formulation or thermal energy storage will be particularly considered.

Funding Notes:

Self-funded or home country funded students are welcome to apply this post. UK/EU rate funding is also possible depending on the quality of the applicant. For further details on the project and informal enquiry please contact Dr Yongliang Li at y.li.1@bham.ac.uk. Applications will be evaluated on an on-going basis until the position is filled.

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Type / Role:

PhD

Location(s):

Midlands of England