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Hydrogen storage for aerospace propulsion

Project Description

Supervisory team: Dr Pejman Iravani, Prof Chris Bowen & Prof Tim Mays

Project enquiries:

The project will investigate, manufacture and test novel approaches to store hydrogen for usage as a propulsion fuel in aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

The aerospace industry is pushing towards zero emission aircraft to minimise impact to the environment. Hydrogen is a zero emission fuel when combusted with oxygen, it has also the highest energy density per unit mass making it a potentially ideal fuel for aerospace.

The problem with hydrogen as a fuel lies in how to store it effectively in the amounts required. As a gas, hydrogen requires large and highly pressurised tanks for storage (up to 70 MPa), or as a liquid it needs extremely low temperatures, down to 20 K.

Work at the University of Bath [1, 2] has shown that storage capacity of pressurised hydrogen containers can be improved by the insertion of highly adsorbent composite materials in their interior. The core of the PhD project will investigate this approach and focus is making a real application. The project will develop chemically-modified materials for hydrogen adsorption, study a range of morphologies to optimise performance, develop manufacturing techniques to create tank inserts and ultimately build a practical hydrogen powered UAV demonstrator.

GKN Aerospace are sponsoring this studentship. Interaction with industry, presentation of results at international conferences and high-quality journal publications are expected. Follow on research will also be a priority, depending on the project outcomes.

Applicants should hold, or expect to receive, a first class Engineering undergraduate Masters degree or MSc distinction (or non-UK equivalent). Subject knowledge on hydrogen storage, fuel cells, UAVs, material science, electric vehicles are desirable. English language entry requirements must be met at the time of application to be considered for funding, see

Formal applications should be made via the University of Bath’s online application form for a PhD in Mechanical Engineering. Please ensure that you state the full project title and lead supervisor name on the application form.

More information about applying for a PhD at Bath may be found here:

Anticipated start date: 28 September 2020

Funding Notes

Funding is for up to three and a half years. It includes UK/EU tuition fees, training support fee of £1,000 per annum and a Maintenance stipend of £15,009 per annum (2019/0 rate). EU students are eligible to apply if they have been resident in the UK for 3 years prior to the funding commencing


[1] Nanoporous polymer-based composites for enhanced hydrogen storage, Tian, M., Rochat, S., Polak-Kraśna, K., Holyfield, L. T., Burrows, A. D., Bowen, C. R. & Mays, T. J., 2019, Adsorption. 25, 4, p. 889-901.

[2] Hydrogen Storage in Polymer-Based Processable Microporous Composites, Rochat, S., Polak-Krasna, K., Tian, M., Holyfield, L., Mays, T., Bowen, C. & Burrows, A., 2017, Journal of Materials Chemistry A. 5, 35, p. 18752-18761.

How good is research at University of Bath in Aeronautical, Mechanical, Chemical and Manufacturing Engineering?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 61.00

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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