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Novel metallurgical production of low-cost hydrogen storage alloys

   Robinson Research Institute

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  Dr Chris Bumby  Applications accepted all year round  Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

Hydrogen will play a key role in the future zero-carbon economy, as a fuel for both transport and industry. However, hydrogen is a low density gas and hence challenging to store for use ‘on-demand’. One approach is to use reversible hydrogen-storage materials such as the intermetallic alloy, Ti-Fe. This alloy absorbs hydrogen within its metal lattice at ambient temperatures, and can achieve storage densities approaching that of cryogenic liquid hydrogen. However, existing routes to producing Ti-Fe rely on a multi-step process which uses high purity precursor metals. As such, the cost of production is prohibitively high.

In this project, we will explore alternative new synthetic routes to produce Ti-Fe which can reduce production costs through employing abundant low-cost naturally-occurring oxides as starting materials, such as titanium-bearing slags and mineral sands. The primary focus will be to pursue high-temperature metallurgical approaches in order to develop a proof-of-concept laboratory process suitable for scaling to industrial volumes. The student will gain familiarity with a wide range of metallurgical synthesis techniques and characterisation instruments including: scanning electron microscopy (with EDS and EBSD mapping), TGA/DSC, XRD, XRF and more. Hydrogen storage properties of sample materials produced in this work will be studied using the custom ‘Sieverts apparatus’ available at Helmholtz-Zentrum Hereon, and the University of Otago.

Supervision and support for the project will be provided by staff at Victoria University of Wellington [1] and University of Canterbury (New Zealand [2], and the Institute of Hydrogen Technology, Helmholtz-Zentrum Hereon [3] (Germany). The student will be enrolled at Victoria University of Wellington, but is expected to spend time at both New Zealand and German host institutions over the course of their PhD studies.


The applicant should hold a science degree equivalent to or 1st class Honours (4-year BSc) degree in New Zealand or an MSc, in Materials Science/Engineering, Chemistry, Physics or equivalent. Previous laboratory experience in materials synthesis and characterisation will be advantageous. All students will be considered on merit, and Māori and Pacific students are particularly encouraged to apply. Candidates should satisfy the requirements for admission as a PhD candidate at Victoria University of Wellington [4].

How to apply

To apply, please send your CV, academic record, and the names and contact details of two referees to: Dr Chris Bumby ([Email Address Removed]) with “Hydrogen storage alloys” in the subject line.

Funding Notes

To be arranged.


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