PhD Studentship - Investigation of Low Cost Cathodes for Sodium ion Batteries

University of Warwick - Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG)

Funding: EPSRC funded for 3.5 years (UK student)

Supervisors: Dr Emma Kendrick (WMG), Prof Richard Walton (Department of Chemistry)

Start Date: As soon as possible

Project overview
An exciting opportunity to work for your PhD as part of our Electrochemical Engineering research group at WMG, University of Warwick.

Sodium ion batteries are being investigated in earnest as a low cost alternative to lithium batteries. Several cathode materials have been investigated such as NaMO2 where M = Fe, Co, Ni, Mn , NaFeSO4F and Na2Fe2(SO4)3 . NaFeO2 and its derivatives offers an extremely low cost cathode material for sodium ion batteries. The performance of these materials are not only related to the material composition, but also the synthesis and processing methods. We will therefore investigate the synthesis parameters and structure-property relationships of low cost iron based materials of the type ABO2, where B = Fe.

Atomic substitutions onto the B site by other metal cations such as Mg, Ti, Mn will be performed to improve the electrochemical properties. Structure-property relationships will be elucidated using in situ and ex situ x-ray diffraction techniques and electron microscopy in combination with electrochemical studies. Access to the Diamond Light Source and the ISIS neutron facility, will provide high-resolution data to analyse fully the atomic positions in these materials. Different synthesis methods for these materials, such as co-precipitation and solid-state methods will be utilised to optimise the particle size and morphology of these materials with respect to their electrochemical performance. Promising materials will be up-scaled in the new facility at WMG, and the performance demonstrated in a full sodium-ion battery configuration.

Objectives:

  • Investigate Solid State Solutions for iron based sodium transition metal oxides
  • Develop and optimise synthesis methods for particle size, morphology and surface area
  • Structural-property elucidations using x-ray diffraction, neutron diffraction and electrochemical testing in 2 and 3 electrode configurations
  • Scale-up synthesis to quantities (Kg) for larger scale coatings
  • Demonstration of materials in sodium ion battery

Background to ERA
The Energy Research Accelerator (ERA) is a cross-disciplinary energy innovation hub which brings together capital assets, data and intellectual leadership to foster collaboration between academia and business to accelerate the development of solutions to the global energy challenge.

Through the Midlands Energy Consortium (MEC), Midlands’ universities have already worked closely to deliver essential research and postgraduate skills – clustering energy research and development to deliver technologies capable of enabling the UK’s transition to a low-carbon economy. ERA is the next step along that journey to become a major hub for energy talent. ERA is a key programme within Midlands Innovation – a consortium of research intensive universities which has the overall aim of harnessing the Midlands’ combined research excellence and industry expertise to play a critical role in tackling some of the biggest challenges facing the UK.

Entry requirements
Candidates should have a minimum of an upper second (2.1) honours degree (or equivalent) in a relevant discipline such as a Chemical/Material Science/Physical Science or Engineering-based discipline. Experience of solid-state chemistry, x-ray diffraction, electrochemistry or an MSc in a relevant subject is highly desirable.

For funding requirements, the applicant should be eligible as a UK student. A stipend of £14,296 will be paid per annum for 3.5 years.

To apply
To apply please complete our online enquiry form and upload your CV.

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Type / Role:

PhD

Location(s):

Midlands of England