PhD Studentship: High-performance and Stable Oxygen Separation Membranes

University of Nottingham - Engineering

Location: University Park

Supervised by Dr Ming Li, Professor Gavin Walker and Professor David Grant

Energy Research Accelerator

The Energy Research Accelerator (ERA) is a cross-disciplinary energy hub, fostering business-academia collaboration to accelerate solutions to global energy challenges. It will provide new buildings, skilled people, jobs products and services to transform the energy sector. Building on existing programmes and academic expertise across the partnership, universities within ERA have committed over £2m for doctoral students for the ERA skills agenda. Through Innovate UK, the government has committed a capital investment of £60m, and ERA has secured private sector co-investment of £120m. ERA's priorities of Geo-Energy Systems, Integrated Energy Systems and Thermal Energy will help deliver new technologies and behaviours, enabling ERA to have a transformative effect across the energy spectrum.

ERA is a key programme within Midlands Innovation - a consortium of research intensive universities that harnesses the Midlands' combined research excellence and industry expertise to tackle the biggest challenges facing the UK.

The Project: Ceramic membranes based on mixed ionic-electronic conductors (MIEC) offer great potential to tackle challenges faced in a variety of energy-related technologies. For example, oxy-fuel combustion is one of the promising technology for carbon dioxide (CO2) capture. In oxy-fuel combustion processes, the fuels are combusted in pure oxygen or oxygen gas balanced with recycled CO2-rich flue gas, producing a flue gas with high concentration of CO2 and thus allowing easier sequestration. The oxygen production process via conventional cryogenic air separation technology however requires high energy consumption with high costs. MIEC ceramic membranes can separate oxygen from air with 100% selectivity and significantly reduce energy penalty and costs. The oxy-fuel combustion coupled with MIEC ceramic membranes represent a leading direction for CO2 capture. 

This project aims to develop MIEC ceramic membranes that exhibit simultaneously high oxygen permeability and high stability under operation conditions. The project involves designing and synthesis of new MIEC materials, fundamental characterisation of structure and electrical properties of the new materials, as well as construction of membranes using the new materials and oxygen permeation tests.

Summary: UK/EU students - Tuition Fees paid, and full stipend at the RCUK rate, which is £14,777 per annum for 2018/19. The scholarship length will be 3.5 years and the successful applicant will be part of the Energy Research Accelerator at the University of Nottingham (

Entry Requirements: Starting September 2018, we require an enthusiastic graduate with a 1st class degree in materials science and engineering, chemical engineering, chemistry, physics or a relevant discipline, preferably at Masters level, or an equivalent overseas degree (in exceptional circumstances a 2:1 degree can be considered).

To apply visit:

For any enquiries please email Dr Ming Li (

This studentship is open until filled. Early application is strongly encouraged.

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Midlands of England