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Lightweight gas storage: real-world strategies for the hydrogen economy

   Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences

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  Prof Ian Sinclair  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Supervisory Team:   Ian Sinclair, Mark Spearing, Mark Mavrogordato, Meisam Jalalvand

Project description

Polymer matrix composites are a core light-weighting technology across virtually all transport sectors (aerospace, automotive, marine), providing a vital element of net-zero carbon objectives.  Many forms and scales of hydrogen storage will be required for a complete hydrogen economy, with highly pressured gas cylinders (in the range on 500-700bar) inevitably being required for decarbonising transport. As part of a 10+ year track record of successful projects, the University of Southampton and Luxfer Gas Cylinders are offering a PhD post to develop innovative designs and design strategies for extremely lightweight ‘Type 4’ cylinders (cylinders using only polymer and polymer composite construction).

This project takes a fundamentally structural perspective, examining the mechanical performance of the walls and liner materials of Type 4 cylinders, and corresponding implications for gas permeability. There will a balance of experimental and modelling aspects, with a view to improve and validate finite element (FE) modelling of Type 4 cylinders. The models will therefore be able to inform optimisation of current designs (reducing mass for a given level of gas containment) and inform more radical design concepts for the future.

Working as part of a well-established group of PhDs and Doctoral researchers, this PhD project will focus on analysis of cylinder failure processes (leak and burst under static and cyclic conditions) via X-ray computed tomography (XCT), building on many years’ experience within the nationally and internationally recognised Southampton µ-VIS lab ( and The project will involve sophisticated experimental work (i.e. X-ray imaging and mechanical testing) using newly installed state-of-the-art facilities ( Whilst imaging and FE working will be carried out via well-established software packages (e.g. ABAQUS for FE), you should have an interest in basic coding, and have some experience in Python, MATLAB or similar scientific computing environments. The project is suitable for engineering, material science or physics graduates. Subject to external travel regulations, the project will involve site visits to Luxfer in the UK and North America.

This project offers a significantly enhanced stipend (living costs) for suitable candidates, with top-up of £4k above the standard UKRI rate. Based on a 2022-23 UKRI rate of £16,062, this equates to a tax-free £20,062 annual stipend. University tuition fees are also included up to UK levels.

Entry Requirements

A very good undergraduate degree (at least a UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent).

 Closing date: applications should be received no later than 30 November 2022 for standard admissions, but later applications may be considered depending on the funds remaining in place.

Funding: For UK students, Tuition Fees and a stipend of £20,062 tax-free per annum for up to 3.5 years.

How To Apply

Apply online: Select programme type (Research), 2022/23, Faculty of Physical Sciences and Engineering, next page select “PhD Engineering & Environment (Full time)”. In Section 2 of the application form you should insert the name of the supervisor Ian Sinclair

Applications should include:

Curriculum Vitae

Two reference letters

Degree Transcripts to date

For further information please contact: [Email Address Removed]

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