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PhD Studentship (Sponsored by Lloyds Register Foundation) – Composite casing with variable thermal conductivity for passive cooling of battery elements

  • Full or part time
    Dr M Kazilas
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description


The need for clean electric powered vehicles (EVs) will lead to a growth of battery elements both in size and power output. The need for a cost-effective, lightweight and structural case for battery elements will also rise, with current solutions of metal cases and active cooling (mainly water cooling) not suited as they add weight and complexity in the handling of heat emitted by the batteries.

A completely new idea for a composite casing will be the focus of this PhD. The composite casing will have variable thermal conductivity, depending on the volume fraction of carbon fibres and other conductive elements (including graphene). The selective high conductivity in areas of the casing will create “thermal avenues” close to the hot areas of the battery, providing passive heat dissipation in the areas needed the most.

Project Outline

The composite casing will be designed using carbon fibres and resins doped with conductive species (graphene or others) for improved thermal conductivity.

The technical work will include:

◾Heat transfer model of a commercial battery element in order to understand the thermal output of the battery at different locations and the corresponding requirements for thermal management.

◾Design of the composite so that its thermal conductivity will conform to the heat dissipation requirements, as modelled.

◾The different thermal conductivity in the composite case will cause thermal mismatch at the various locations of the part. Cooling fins and other design element will be added to the design in order to maintain the thermal flow from the hot areas of the casing to the cooler areas.

◾Metallic layers (either coated or part of the composite manufacturing process; such us copper meshes) will be considered in order to improve the thermal management of the casing.

◾Manufacturing of prototypes.

◾Testing of prototypes according to standards and specifications.

◾Mechanical testing.

◾Influence of the variable volume fraction of carbon fibres and graphene to the mechanical properties of the part.

◾Testing according to standards (Mode I, II, mixed-mode and other as needed) and comparison with expected strength for confirming the structural integrity of the part.

◾Thermal behaviour.

◾Test with heat sources that resemble the expected thermal output of a battery in order to confirm/validate thermal performance.

About Industrial Sponsor

The Lloyd’s Register Foundation funds the advancement of engineer-related education and research and supports work that enhances safety of life at sea, on land and in the air, because life matters. Lloyd’s Register Foundation is partly funded by the profits of their trading arm Lloyd’s Register Group Limited, a global engineering, technical and business services organisation.


NSIRC is a state-of-the-art postgraduate engineering facility established and managed by structural integrity specialist TWI, working closely with, top UK and International Universities and a number of leading industrial partners. NSIRC aims to deliver cutting edge research and highly qualified personnel to its key industrial partners.

About the University

Brunel University has created a new Innovation Centre dedicated to the study of composite materials and their performance at the interface with other materials. The Brunel Composites Innovation Centre (BCC) aims to create a shared research and technology capability specialising in novel composites processing and joining technologies applied to industrial environments

Candidate Requirements

Candidates should have a relevant degree at 2.1 minimum, or an equivalent overseas degree in engineering or materials science. Candidates with suitable work experience and strong capacity in numerical modelling and experimental skills are particularly welcome to apply. Overseas applicants should also submit IELTS results (minimum 6.5) if applicable

Funding Notes

Funding Notes
This project is funded by Lloyds Register Foundation, TWI and academic partners. The studentship will provide successful Home/EU students with a stipend of £16k/year and will cover the cost of tuition fees. Overseas applicants are welcome to apply, with total funding capped at £24k/year.

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