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PhD: EPSRC iCASE - Advanced Electrolytes for Sustainable Li-Ion Batteries

University of Cambridge - Department of Engineering

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Cambridge
Funding for: UK Students
Funding amount: Fully funded
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 8th December 2022
Closes: 15th January 2023
Reference: NM34565

The electrification of our transportation sector and in particular the development of electric vehicles (EVs) is a key part of our transition to net zero. This transition is currently held back by the performance of the batteries that are required to power these vehicles. Areas that require improvement include the battery capacity (drive range on one charge), rate (charging time), cost and sustainability of the battery materials. This project aims at alleviating issues related to the capacity and sustainability of Li-Ion batteries (LIBs).

More specifically, cathode materials that are used in current LIBs rely heavily on Cobalt in their formulation, which is often time mined unsustainably. Co can be replace by Ni in LIB cathodes, which is more sustainable at the point of mining and allows for higher battery capacities, but unfortunately, these Ni based cathodes degrade quickly. This shortens the lifetime of the battery, and leads to sustainability issues of its own.

We have discovered that one of the main degradation pathways of Ni-rich cathodes is driven by side reactions with carbonate solvents that are used in LIB electrolytes. This project will work with Shell to develop new electrolyte formulations that are compatible with next generation LIB cathodes. This represents a very substantial contribution to the energy transition as it would allow to make electrical vehicles using more sustainable materials and extend the battery lifetime.

The project will include in-depth analysis of the processes that curtail the battery life time using a variety of sensing methods, including, electrochemistry, FTIR, NMR, and Operando electrochemical mass spectrometry. In addition, a range of new electrolyte formulations will be tested and developed by the candidate to support the adoption of sustainable next generation battery cathodes. 

The EPSRC ICASE studentships are fully-funded (fees and maintenance) for eligible  students who would qualify for Home fees https://www.postgraduate.study.cam.ac.uk/finance/fees/what-my-fee-status

Full eligibility criteria can be found via the following link; https://www.ukri.org/what-we-offer/developing-people-and-skills/epsrc/studentships/industrial-case/

Applicants should have (or expect to obtain by the start date) at least a good 2.1 degree in Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Chemistry or Material Science.

To apply for this studentship, please send your two page CV to Prof Michael De Volder (mfld2@cam.ac.uk) and Prof Clare Grey (cpg27@cam.ac.uk) to arrive no later than the 15th of January 2023.

Please note that any offer of funding will be conditional on securing a place as a PhD student. Candidates will need to apply separately for admission through the University's Graduate Admissions application portal; this can be done before or after applying for this funding opportunity. The applicant portal can be accessed via: www.graduate.study.cam.ac.uk/courses/directory/egegpdpeg with Prof Michael De Volder identified as the potential supervisor

The University actively supports equality, diversity and inclusion and encourages applications from all sections of society.

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