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Characterising defects in hydrogen fuel cell and electrolyser components for volume manufacturing

   Department of Chemical and Process Engineering

   Friday, July 01, 2022  Competition Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Clean hydrogen is rapidly gaining traction as an essential component of a low carbon economy and could potentially meet 24% of the world’s energy needs by 2050. Fuel cells and electrolysers are key enabling technologies for hydrogen use, and their commercial production is accelerating. A major priority of fuel cell and electrolyser manufacturers is ensuring the quality of electrodes produced as defects impact device performance, lifetime and safety.

This project will develop novel tools and procedures to characterise defects in the complex catalyst coated membranes that are used in low temperature fuel cells and electrolysers. The structure and behaviour of these materials is highly complex and the project will initially focus on establishing the impact that defects have on device performance and durability. Depending on the interests of the student the project may then use techniques such as optical, infrared and Raman imaging to investigate defects in operando or contribute to the development of rapid, high accuracy techniques suitable for performing quality inspection in industrial environments.

The project will be carried out in collaboration with the National Manufacturing Institute of Scotland (NMIS) and the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) who will support the student with expert co-supervisors and access to equipment. The position will be primarily based at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow with the opportunity for six months of placement at NPL’s facilities in Teddington, London. The student will have access to support as well as technical and research skills training provided by Postgraduate Institute for Measurement Science (PGI).

The project will be supervised by Dr Edward Brightman (University of Strathclyde - Chemical & Process Engineering), Dr Graham Smith (NPL) and Mr Paul Cantwell (NMIS).

Applications should include:

  • A one-page cover letter detailing your reasons for applying for this specific PhD project
  • CV with names and addresses for two references
  • Degree transcripts and certificates (in English), and if English is not your native language, a copy of your English language qualifications (IELTS).

Interviews will be arranged with shortlisted applicants, an offer may be made before the posted deadline so early applications are encouraged.

In addition to undertaking cutting edge research, students are also registered for the Postgraduate Certificate in Researcher Development (PGCert), which is a supplementary qualification that develops a student’s skills, networks and career prospects.

Information about the host department can be found by visiting:



Funding Notes

The funding covers the home student tuition fees and stipend in line with the UK Research Councils rates (£16,059 stipend for academic year 2022-2023) for 42 months.
Applicants should have a 1st or upper 2nd class Masters-level degree in chemical engineering, chemistry, or similar. Experience in a laboratory or manufacturing setting would be beneficial. Applicants will need to demonstrate that they possess the excellent organisational, interpersonal, verbal and academic writing skills required to succeed during their PhD.

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