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Dr Andrew Rhead , Prof Saiful Islam Applications accepted all year round

About the Project

Batteries based on carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) have the potential to supply power with an improved overall efficiency (vehicle power to weight rather than battery power to weight) compared to current battery technologies. By integrating batteries into the structure in the form of CFRP, lightweighting is not only achieved from the change in material but also from the removal of the non-structural dead weight of conventional batteries and their casements. For example, in automotive applications, structural batteries achieve a 26% theoretical mass saving over use of separate systems for energy storage and load carrying.
The current state-of-the-art in structural batteries is a half-cell based on a structural cathode. Significant work is required before a full cell can be manufactured and expected to sustain loading for multiple discharge and mechanical load cycles. Three projects are suggested which focus on challenges at different length scales this is project A:

Micromechanical scale - Mechanical resilience: During charging, ions are absorbed into the fibre (intercalation) which causes the anode to swell. Swelling impacts the residual stress state, mechanical properties and microstructure of the composite material, and may result in microscale fracture. Such physical changes will critically influence the ability of the material to hold charge and carry structural load. Work in this PhD will focus on use of synchrotron techniques to measure fibre scale mechanical properties of both anodes and cathodes during charge cycling, accumulation of microscale damage and understanding of ion intercalation patterns within the anode. Work will progress to understand similar properties under axial fatigue loading. A proposal for synchrotron time has already been made.

This project is offered within the Centre for Doctoral Training in Advanced Automotive Propulsion Systems (CDT-AAPS). The centre aims to create a diverse and stimulating environment where you can deepen your knowledge in your discipline through your PhD whilst giving breath to your skills through collaborations.

Prospective students will be applying for the integrated PhD programme run by CDT-AAPS which includes a one-year MRes (full time) followed by a PhD programme. The MRes course will be conducted as a cohort with a focus on technology, team-working and research skills. On successful completion of the MRes, you will progress to a PhD programme which can be conducted on a full-time or part-time basis.

CDT-AAPS is determined to create a welcoming and inclusive environment for all members. The whole CDT community will come together at specific events during the calendar year, most notably the induction events, workshops and guest lectures. All new students joining the CDT will be assigned both an academic personal tutor and a student mentor. Each student will be assigned a minimum of 2 academic supervisors at the point of starting their PhD.

Funding is available for four-years (full time equivalent) for Home/EU students.

See our website to apply or for more details (

Funding Notes

AAPS CDT studentships are available on a competition basis for UK students for up to 4 years. Funding will cover UK tuition fees as well as providing maintenance at the UKRI doctoral stipend rate (£15,285 per annum for 2020/21) and a training support fee of £1,000 per annum.
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