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Embedded optical sensors for polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Awaiting Funding Decision/Possible External Funding
    Awaiting Funding Decision/Possible External Funding

Project Description

Catalyst durability is currently one of the biggest challenges limiting widespread commercialization of polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells (PEMFC). The high surface-area carbon catalyst support materials are susceptible to corrosion under various operating regimes. Characterising the mechanisms of this degradation currently requires a suite of measurement techniques designed to replicate the operating conditions in a real fuel cell, but these can never be completely accurate. There is growing interest in using in situ methods to measure various key parameters in a representative operating device.

This project will develop a technique to embed optical fibres in a PEM fuel cell to carry out optical spectroscopic measurements in order to characterise carbon support materials during real operating conditions, observing the chemical corrosion mechanisms that take place during accelerated stress testing, which is known to lead to catalyst degradation. This will enable the development of novel catalysts and operating strategies resulting in improved durability and longer lifetimes of commercial devices.

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

This PhD project is awaiting funding outcome and is also offered on a self-funding basis. It is open to applicants with their own funding, or those applying to funding sources. However, excellent candidates may be considered for a University scholarship.

Students applying should have (or expect to achieve) a minimum 2.1 undergraduate degree in a relevant engineering/science discipline, and be highly motivated to undertake multidisciplinary research.

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