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PhD Studentship: AEM Water Electrolyser for Green Hydrogen Production from Renewable for Energy Storage. EMPS College Home fees Studentship, PhD in Renewable Energy (Engineering)

University of Exeter - College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Exeter, Falmouth, Penryn
Funding for: UK Students
Funding amount: £15,609
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 29th November 2021
Closes: 24th January 2022

Department of Renewable Energy (Engineering)

Penryn Campus, University of Exeter, Falmouth, Cornwall.

The University of Exeter’s College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences is inviting applications for a fully-funded PhD studentship to commence in January 2022 or as soon as possible thereafter. The studentship will cover Home tuition fees plus an annual tax-free stipend of at least £15,609 for 3.5 years full-time, or pro rata for part-time study.

This College studentship is open to UK and Irish nationals, who if successful in their application will receive a full studentship including payment of university tuition fees at the home fees rate.

With a carbon-constrained world now a certainty, hydrogen is expected to provide a central solution to our needs for a sustainable fuel for our future transport requirements and also an approach to large scale storage of energy. Conventionally, hydrogen is produced by large process plant which reforms hydrocarbons to hydrogen and up to 95% of hydrogen production come from this method.

In contrast to this method, water electrolysis provides a clean route to hydrogen from water without the consumption of fossil fuel or the emission of CO2, but currently this only accounts a very small proportion of hydrogen production. If the electricity comes from renewable energy sources, water electrolysis becomes a truly green technology. Green hydrogen is such an important research field that the UK is set to be the world leader as stated in ‘The UK Hydrogen Strategy (2021)’. Low carbon hydrogen sector is the second point of the Prime Minister’s “Ten Points Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution” in 2020, where £4 billion will be invested by 2030 and new jobs will be therefore created in the sector.

The proposed project research is focused on design and development of a novel anion exchange membrane (AEM) water electrolyser for green hydrogen production in high efficiency and cost-competitiveness. AEM water electrolysers open up the possibility of using non-precious metal catalysts and anode materials in alkali media, which can give lower overpotentials for oxygen evolution than in acid environments; together with cheaper cell components and lower energy consumption, it leads to the possibility of cheaper hydrogen production. The research work will be focused on ways (i) to prepare and characterise new catalysts for both oxygen evolution reaction and hydrogen evolution reaction; (ii) to optimise composition of the selected catalysts and, (iii) to design and construct an AEM water electrolyser cell with a desired performance.

You will research into a field, in which, the research group is in a pioneer position in the research field. You will have a plenty of opportunities getting in touch with industry experts because there are research projects undertaking in the group. On completion of the PhD program, you will become an expert with excellent skills that are transferable to battery and fuel cell technologies. You will have acquired a range of technical skills that are highly valued by practitioners. You will have access to advanced characterization facilities within the college in the university.

The project will be supervised by Prof Xiaohong Li and Dr Asif Tahir.

If you have any question, informal enquiries, or for more information about the project, please contact the primary supervisor Prof Xiaohong Li (x.li@exeter.ac.uk).

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