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PhD in Chemistry and Engineering - Novel Inorganic Composite Materials for Thermochemical Seasonal Thermal Energy Storage

   College of Science and Engineering

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  Prof D H Gregory, Dr Yiji Lu  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

With soaring fuel costs and demands, sustainable heat storage – “a rechargeable thermal battery” is a technology that could revolutionise domestic and industrial settings economically and environmentally. But how can this be achieved? This project seeks to develop a high energy density seasonal thermal energy storage technology, exploiting newly-developed inorganic composite materials formed from inorganic compounds embedded in a nanostructured carbon-based matrix. Long term seasonal storage requires advanced storage materials, designed specifically to capture solar or geothermal energy, for example, for later use. A high cyclability, extended longevity, low cost system using Earth-abundant materials is the target.

This project follows three stages from materials level design/optimisation through component-level development of thermal energy storage devices to the system level fabrication of the energy system technology. Central is a sorption technology using ammonia as the working fluid to provide room space heating (winter) and cooling (summer) through reversible chemical reactions in two-bed reactors. (Solar) energy is captured and stored in the ultra-high energy density seasonal storage reactor to facilitate high-level heat and mass transfer performance, with high cyclability/repeatability as demonstrated by experiment. A lab-scale system will be developed through quantitative investigations to demonstrate the technology concept by offering both heating and cooling on demand. The potential of how to scale up the system will be studied, and the techno-economic analysis will be explored.

The project will involve the synthesis of inorganic solid state materials and of carbon-based nanomaterials (such as graphene and derivatives). Materials characterisation will involve investigation by powder X-ray diffraction, electron microscopy (SEM and TEM), Raman and IR spectroscopy, thermal analysis methods (TGA, DTA, DSC) and high temperature/high pressure sorption methods. There will also be opportunities to perform experiments at national facilities.  The newly developed solid-state composite materials will then be simulated through CFD analysis to study the heat transfer performance in a tube-and-shell heat exchanger. A lab-scale demonstrator will be developed to demonstrate this new seasonal energy storage system with a view to measuring its heating/cooling capability quantitatively.

Applicants should be UK nationals with a First Class or Upper Second Class Honours degree or equivalent in Chemistry, Materials Science or related disciplines. The successful candidate will be highly self-motivated, be goal oriented and have good writing and communication skills. An enthusiasm for innovation and speculative thinking is particularly encouraged. A master’s degree in a relevant subject would be advantageous but is not essential. Some experience in engineering disciplines could be useful, but full training in this area will be provided.

For further information on this project, potential applicants are encouraged to contact Professor Duncan Gregory ([Email Address Removed]) in the School of Chemistry and/or Dr Yiji Lu in the School of Engineering ([Email Address Removed]). 


How to Apply: Please refer to the following website for details on how to apply:


Funding Notes

Scholarships are for applicants meeting UK fees status only.
Funding is available to cover tuition fees for UK applicants for 3.5 years, as well as paying a stipend at the Research Council rate (£16,062 for Session 2022-23).
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