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Structured perovskite composite material for Thermal-Electro energy conversion system

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

This PhD project aims to develop a novel composite material with porous structure to convert thermal energy into electro-chemical energy (stored in battery).
With the global population swelling and industrialisation on the rise in developing nations, our demand for energy has reached unprecedented level. Electricity from fossil fuel energy domains more than 50% of the market even it raises serious environmental concerns and endures low efficiency. Controversially, huge amount of electricity generated by renewable energy cannot be used by consumers due to its variability and the high costs to compensate that. Energy storage plays a crucial role in building a sustainable energy system in the future.
Over the last century, the ES industry has continued to evolve and adapt to changing energy requirements. Among all the ES technologies, electrochemical storage becomes main demonstration form due to its high conversion efficiency, low cost, long life time and safety.
In parallel, thermal energy is at the heart of the whole energy chain. It provides a main linkage between the primary and secondary energy sources. 90% of current energy budget centres around heat conversion, transmission and storage. However, key challenges include efficiently converting thermal energy to electricity and transmit it to consumers.
A scalable and compatible energy conversion system is highly desired for both centralised and distributed power grid. A revolutionary step is to develop a highly efficient integrated system combining electrochemical storage with thermal energy storage (TES), whilst the heat can be from different sources e.g. renewable energy, industrial waste heat, fossil fuel burning heat and off-peak electricity.
The proposed PhD project aims to solve part of the whole system, more specifically, the materials for converting thermal energy to electrochemical energy.
The system comprises TES modules and a thermal-electro converter (TEC). The TES modules consist of different thermal energy stores containing TES materials that can store heat at different temperatures. The stored heat can be from different sources including renewables (solar, wind, tidal and biomass etc), clean fossil fuels, industrial waste heat, and heat generated from off-peak electricity either directly or via heat pumps. The stored heat will be used for either or both of thermal energy consumers and the TEC. The TEC uses chemical looping with perovskite material and charge the batteries thermally. The battery will generate electricity and provide to end user through power grid.
The primary objective of the PhD project is to develop structured perovskite composite materials for the thermal charge unit in the TEC. The PhD project will address different levels of scientific and technological challenges of such a novel energy conversion form. Phase change materials will be implemented to improve thermal efficiency. Porous structure will be investigated for enhancing chemical reaction rate and material lifetime after thermal/chemical cycling. Experiment will be carried out to formulate the material. A series of parameters will be assessed such as surface energy of individual material, doping material effect on converting rate, chemical compatibility between materials, pore size of the developed composite, and particle flowability if the thermal charge unit is designed as a packed-bed reactor.
To undertake this research, a motivated candidate is required with a first class degree or upper second or a combination of qualification and professional experience equivalent to that level, in materials science & engineering, energy and power engineering, chemical engineering or other related science and engineering disciplines. The candidate has to show evidence of motivation for and understanding of the proposed area of study and also preliminary knowledge of research techniques. Independent work, self-motivation, good team spirit and excellent communication skills are important assets of the successful candidate. The candidate has to demonstrate proof of proficiency in English if applicable. Candidate with some knowledge and research experience in materials or phase change materials will be preferred.
The PhD student will be hosted between Birmingham Centre for Energy Storage (BCES) and Centre for Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Research (CFCHR) both of which the School of Chemical Engineering is heavily involved. BCES has developed worldwide reputation on phase change materials for thermal energy storage and the related devices and systems. It brings together research expertise from across the University to drive innovation from the laboratory to market. CFCHR is nationally and internationally recognised for its expertise in fuel cell technologies. The two centres possess abundant expertise and state-of-the-art equipment/facilities for materials, energy, processes and system research. It will provide an excellent environment for hosting the PhD student.

How good is research at University of Birmingham in Aeronautical, Mechanical, Chemical and Manufacturing Engineering?
Chemical Engineering

FTE Category A staff submitted: 32.50

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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