Thermo-electric materials for tab cooling of advanced batteries


   Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences

   Saturday, August 31, 2024  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Supervisory Team:   Prof Richard Wills, Dr Iris Nandhakumar

Project description

Effective thermal management of lithium-based battery systems is important for optimising cell efficiency, reducing cell degradation and preventing catastrophic failure. Cooling methods need to have a low parasitic energy draw and be controllable to maintain the battery in a defined temperature window.

At an individual cell level, the temperature can be readily controlled with convective flow (either air or liquid coolant). At a pack level, this becomes more challenging without having a thermal gradient between cells or a high volume/mass system with inter-cell cooling elements. A possible solution to this is the implementation of tab cooling, where the electrical contact tabs are cooled rather than the full outer surface of each cell.

This project aims to investigate the use of thermoelectric materials for smart tab-cooling of battery cells. The use of thermoelectric materials would also open the possibility of having an in-built temperature moderation process, where the higher the cell current (which increases thermal output) the higher the cooling effect from the thermoelectric material. In other words, the operation of the battery and its cooling are linked without the requirement of additional temperature sensors.

To validate the reliability and effectiveness of the proposed thermal management system for lithium-ion batteries we will compare our experimental results with model predictions using COMSOL to assess how well this proposed approach aligns with the real-world performance of the lithium-ion battery cell.

The successful candidate will be affiliated to both the Energy Technology Research Group within the Mechanical Engineering Department and the School of Chemistry at University of Southampton. Training will be provided at the beginning of the project to help the student start these investigations.

If you wish to discuss any details of the project informally, please contact Prof Richard Wills, Energy Technology Research Group, Email: , Tel: +44 (0) 2380 59 7615.

Entry Requirements

A very good undergraduate degree (at least a UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent).

Closing date: 31 August 2024.

Funding: Funding for tuition fees and a living stipend are available on a competitive basis. Funding will be awarded on a rolling basis, so apply early for the best opportunity to be considered.

How To Apply

Apply online: Search for a Postgraduate Programme of Study (soton.ac.uk). Select programme type (Research), 2024/25, Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences, next page select “PhD Engineering & Environment (Full time)”. In Section 2 of the application form you should insert the name of the supervisor Richard Wills

Applications should include:

Research Proposal

Curriculum Vitae

Two reference letters

Degree Transcripts/Certificates to date

For further information please contact:

The School of Engineering is committed to promoting equality, diversity inclusivity as demonstrated by our Athena SWAN award. We welcome all applicants regardless of their gender, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation or age, and will give full consideration to applicants seeking flexible working patterns and those who have taken a career break. The University has a generous maternity policy, onsite childcare facilities, and offers a range of benefits to help ensure employees’ well-being and work-life balance. The University of Southampton is committed to sustainability and has been awarded the Platinum EcoAward.


Chemistry (6) Engineering (12)

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