PhD Studentship - Development of a Fuel Cell Degradation Model for an Integrated Biomass Gasification-fuel Cell System

Aston University - Engineering and Applied Science

Contract Type: Fixed Term (for 3 years)

Closing Date: 23.59 hours GMT on Tuesday 31 October 2017

Interview Date: To be confirmed

Applications are invited for a three year Postgraduate studentship, supported by the School of Engineering and Applied Science, to be undertaken within the European Bioenergy Research Institute (EBRI) at Aston University. The successful applicant will join a group working on fuel cell research. 

The position is available to start in January 2018 (subject to negotiation)

Financial Support
This studentship includes a fee bursary to cover the home/EU fees rate plus a maintenance allowance of £14,553 in 2017/18.

Applicants from outside the EU may apply for this studentship but will need to pay the difference between the ‘Home/EU’ and the ‘Overseas’ tuition fees, currently this is £12,005 in 2017/18.  As part of the application process confirmation that this funding support is in place will be required.

Background of the Project
Thermal stresses and fuel contamination are the main reasons behind Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (SOFC) degradation and hence its decline in performance. Thermal stress is caused by varying temperatures caused by the variable quality of fuel gas from the gasifier in an integrated biomass gasification-fuel cell system. Fuel gas variability comes from the imperfect nature of biomass gasification, especially at small scale leading to variations in gas composition as well contaminants such as tar and sulphur. This research project aims to develop a fuel cell degradation predictive model to capture the interaction between the gasification and SOFC units including the effect of temporal variations. Since fuel cell degradation is a microscale phenomenon that can be influenced by macroscale physicochemical processes, the ultimate model will be a multi-scale-multi-physics model to predict the rate of degradation of the fuel cell as a function of the gasifier output. For such a multi-scale model, validation is of crucial importance that is currently poorly investigated and is especially important at a system level.  In order to satisfy the complex interactions between gasifier and fuel cell, this project aims to firstly develop a model verification methodology and then apply it to the multi-scale degradation predictive model which will provide more robust model verification. In its final stage, the project will carry out process sensitivity analysis and optimisation for both the fuel cell and an integrated system to find challenges and opportunities for improvement of the SOFC’s lifetime and operation of the gasifier.

Person Specification
The successful applicant should have a first class or upper second class honours degree or equivalent qualification in Chemical/Process or Mechanical Engineering. Preferred skill requirements include knowledge and experience of process modelling and numerical methods. 

For informal enquiries about this project and other opportunities within the EBRI Research Group, contact Dr Amirpiran Amiri, or Professor Tony Bridgwater,

If you require further information about the application process please contact the Postgraduate Admissions team at

The online application form, reference forms and details of entry requirements, including English language are available here.

Applications must also be accompanied by a research proposal giving an overview of the main themes of the research, and explaining how your knowledge and experience will benefit the project.

Details of how to write your project proposal are also included in the How to Apply section.

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