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PhD Studentship: Building a Fully Recyclable Net-zero Battery

Loughborough University - Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Loughborough
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students, International Students
Funding amount: University funded
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 4th August 2022
Closes: 18th September 2022
Reference: P2SAM22-09
 

Batteries are one of the most promising ways to accelerate global transition to net-zero emissions. This is particularly due to their ability to promote the uptake of renewable energy sources by compensating for the intermittent nature of renewable energy production and increasing end-user affordability by reducing dependency on the non-renewable power supply. Despite considerable progress in the battery field over the last three decades, batteries are challenged in cost and sustainability due to need for mining, international materials supply chain and recyclability restrictions. There are also unaddressed challenges around battery safety due to flammable electrolytes. To achieve sustainable global electrification, the international research community is investigating into alternative battery chemistries and material systems to realise solid-state recyclable batteries using readily available raw materials.

One of the field-defining battery initiatives at Loughborough University is to develop a solid-state aluminium-ion battery exploiting the local abundance and established recycling infrastructure of aluminium. A solid-state aluminium battery is recognised in the international scientific community as a sustainable and seminal concept but with major limitations around electrolyte and cathode (Leisegang, T., et al., Frontiers in Chemistry, 2019). Our key achievement in the field has been the discovery of novel chemistries for developing the first of its kind solid-state polymer aluminium electrolyte that can provide the required energy density.

This research project involves working on key elements of the electrochemical cell, packaging, and integrated sensing to develop a seminal recyclable solid-state aluminium-ion battery. The project will optimise the novel electrochemical cell (electrolyte and electrode) to achieve the performance features required by the industry, such as energy density, range, and charging and discharging rates. The project will explore novel, flexible and potentially see-through packaging materials, methods, and geometry, which can give the required structural and thermal stability of the battery. The project will also integrate a novel electrochemical flexible sensor for state-of-health monitoring and end-of-life prediction. Collaborating with an established team of scientists and engineers, and leading academic and industry collaborators (UK and international), the outcomes of the project will include a lab-scale prototype that can be taken up for further development into an industry-scale prototype through a future project. The research will potentially deliver significant impact through the realisation of an affordable, safe, and sustainable battery that can be adopted globally in renewable energy and transportation systems and play a major role in achieving net-zero.

The research will be carried out at the Battery lab established within the state-of-the-art chemical engineering research facilities, fully equipped for synthesis and characterisation (Loughborough Materials Characterisation Centre, a Centre of Excellence).

We are looking for a researcher (engineer or scientist) with practical lab experience, keen interests in unravelling the underpinning science and developing methodologies, a multidisciplinary translational outlook, and excellent communication skills.

Is the project University funded or self-funded? University funded

Funding eligibility: Competition funded project (students worldwide)

Who is eligible to apply? Both UK and International

Full-time/part-time availability: Full-time (3 years)

Closing Date: 18th September 2022

Advert Reference: P2SAM22-09

Apply Link: https://www.lboro.ac.uk/study/postgraduate/apply/research-applications/

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