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Next-Generation Hydrogen Production Using Polymer Nanotemplates


   Department of Chemical & Biological Engineering


About the Project

Hydrogen vehicles are already on the road, and most ICE vehicles can combust hydrogen with simple alterations. The byproduct of combustion is water vapour, making hydrogen one of the most sustainable fuels available. Filling a hydrogen tank takes about the same time as a petrol tank, and the hydrogen can be produced on site and delocalized from a grid. Electrolyzers produce hydrogen from water and can be driven by sustainable power sources, like solar panels. The greatest barrier to the widespread adoption of hydrogen fuelled vehicles is the relatively high cost of electrolyzer modules.

This project aims to tackle one of the highest costs associated with polymer membrane electrolyzers: the semiprecious iridium catalyst used to generate oxygen at the anode. The successful PhD candidate will use an amphiphilic block copolymer to host iridium nanoparticles next to water channels. The novel structure reduces the cost of the module and is expected to increase its efficiency by providing more surface area for reaction. The cost and performance of the resulting membrane–electrode assemblies will be evaluated towards optimizing the design.

Students will learn polymer physics and semiconductor physics to complete this project. Experimental techniques include processing polymer films, measuring polarization curves, quantifying order with small-angle x-ray scattering and x-ray diffraction, imaging film surfaces with atomic force microscopy and scanning electron microscopy, and designing experimental setups.

Please see this link for information on how to apply: https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/cbe/postgraduate/phd/how-apply. Please include the name of your proposed supervisor and the title of the PhD project within your application.

First-class MEng in chemical engineering, materials science, chemistry, physics or similar STEM degree. Alternately, a STEM bachelors plus a track record of working in related industry. Candidates with equivalent qualifications are welcome to apply. If English is not your first language then you must have an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) average of 6.5 or above with at least 6.0 in each component, or equivalent. Please see this link for further information: https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/postgraduate/phd/apply/english-language.


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