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Development of novel nanomaterials for electrochemical hydrogen production

   Advanced Materials and Surface Engineering

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  Dr Laurie King  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Undertake cutting edge research to contribute to CO2 reductions 

A drastic expansion in green hydrogen production is one pathway to eliminating carbon dioxide emissions. One such device for green hydrogen production is a water electrolyser. Electrolysers split water into hydrogen and oxygen using electricity, and are expected to play a critical role in the synthesis of carbon-free hydrogen. However, commercial proton exchange membrane electrolysers utilise precious metal catalysts such as iridium which is both scarce and expensive.  

During this 3-year PhD we will synthesise and characterise nanostructured catalysts for electrochemical water splitting reactions. Specifically, the project will focus on developing catalyst materials with a reduced iridium and ruthenium content compared to commercial catalysts. Throughout the project, we will develop novel synthetic methods, conduct electrochemical tests and utilise numerous material characterisation techniques (such as x-ray diffraction, electron microscopy, x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, using both in-house and synchrotron-based facilities). This new project will be highly collaborative and interactive activity within our recently established research group, and you will work alongside other PhD students and postdoctoral researchers within the Manchester Fuel Cell Innovation Centre. The project will also provide the candidate with many opportunities to collaborate with our industrial and academic project partners (University of Manchester and University College London). The project will be jointly supervised by Dr Laurie King and Dr Yagya Regmi.  

Aims and objectives 

The primary objective of the project is to design and characterise highly active catalysts for water electrolyser technologies. Specifically, we will investigate strategies to develop catalysts with reduced iridium content compared to state-of-the-art industrial water electrolyser catalysts. This will require development of synthetic methods, including wet chemical methods, as well as employing a wide range of electrochemical and materials characterisation techniques to develop fundamental understanding of electrocatalyst performance. We will characterise the catalysts in both lab-scale (3-electrode, rotating disk electrode) as well as commercially relevant (2-electrode, membrane electrode assembly) configuration. 

Specific requirements of the project  

We are seeking a highly motivated, enthusiastic and suitably qualified student, ideally with a Master’s degree, in Chemistry, Materials Science or another related subject. Any previous experience in catalysis, nanoparticle synthesis, or electrochemical methods is desirable, but not essential as full training will be provided to the selected candidate.  We therefore encourage all interested candidates to apply.  

Candidates should have an interest in electrocatalysis, materials synthesis and sustainable energy technologies. They should be able to carefully plan their work, work collaboratively and be willing to help mentor undergraduate research students. The student will be based at Manchester Metropolitan University, but will have opportunities to travel for conferences and meetings across the UK as well as internationally.  

We are very supportive of applications from those returning from a career break or other roles and will consider flexible study arrangements where requested.  

Funding Notes

Fully-funded PhD (home fees), stipend paid at 2022/23 rate of £16,062. Expected start date January 2023.
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