A viable path toward attaining energy sustainability is the production of green hydrogen using renewable energy sources. Nonetheless, conventional water electrolysis technologies predominantly rely on freshwater, exacerbating strain on already limited resources. Seawater, as a vast and natural electrolyte source, provides an alternative but poses significant challenges, including complex ionic chemistry, insoluble by-products formation, corrosion-related issues, and chlorine evolution/oxidation reactions. The project aims to address this by pioneering the development of innovative high-performance Mo/TMNs electrocatalyst, with ultra-thin graphitic carbon coating. A minimum annual stipend of £19,237 (tax-free) plus fees for four years will be provided.

A viable path toward attaining energy sustainability is the production of green hydrogen using renewable energy sources. Nonetheless, conventional water electrolysis technologies predominantly rely on freshwater, exacerbating strain on already limited resources. Seawater, as a vast and natural electrolyte source, provides an alternative but poses significant challenges, including complex ionic chemistry, insoluble by-products formation, corrosion-related issues, and chlorine evolution/oxidation reactions. Crucially, improving energy efficiency is imperative to mitigate the overall cost of hydrogen production from seawater.

Addressing these challenges involves developing high-performance electrocatalysts tailored for seawater electrolysis to achieve industrial-level oxygen evolution reaction (OER) current density below the potential at which competitive chlorine evolution reactions occur. Among potential candidates, transition-metal nitrides (TMNs) stand out as promising electrocatalysts due to their electron configurations, high electrical conductivities, corrosion resistance, and robust mechanical properties. Moreover, molybdenum (Mo) surfaces serve as electron pumps or reservoirs, modulating the electronic states of TMNs and enhancing catalytic activity through charge transfer. Additionally, ultra-thin graphitic carbon coatings can provide excellent conductivity and protective layers.

Therefore, our research project aims to resolve the competition between the oxygen evolution reaction (OER) and other side reactions by pioneering the development of innovative high-performance Mo/TMNs electrocatalyst, with ultra-thin graphitic carbon coating.

This project offers a unique opportunity to work at the forefront of hydrogen research. As a PhD student, you will gain valuable experience in electrochemical and chemical reaction engineering. You will receive training from the UKRI-funded doctoral training centres and have the chance to participate in entrepreneurial, project management, and technique-specific training. You will also be part of the hydrogen community at Cranfield. You will also have the chance to attend conferences and engage with world-leading researchers, paving the way for a successful career in this field.

At a glance

  • Application deadline17 Jul 2024
  • Award type(s)PhD
  • Start date29 Sep 2024
  • Duration of award4 years
  • EligibilityUK, Rest of world
  • Reference numberSWEE0252

Supervisor

Entry requirements

Applicants should have a first or second class UK honours degree or equivalent in a related discipline. This project would suit students with knowledge and experience of chemical and reaction engineering, catalysis and materials. Prior study of this specific research area is not a pre-requisite. We encourage applications from under-represented groups and are committed to equality, diversity and inclusion.

Funding

Sponsored by EPSRC Engineering Hydrogen Centre for Doctoral Training, this studentship will provide an annual stipend of £19,237 plus tuition fee. An additional travel and related expenses grant during the course of the project worth up to £1000 per year for 4 years. 

To be eligible for this funding, applicants must be classified as home or international students. We require that applicants are under no restrictions regarding how long they can stay in the UK.

Our Values

Our shared, stated values help to define who we are and underpin everything we do: Ambition; Impact; Respect; and Community. Find out more here. We aim to create and maintain a culture in which everyone can work and study together and realise their full potential.

Diversity and Inclusion

Our equal opportunities and diversity monitoring has shown that women and minority ethnic groups are currently underrepresented within the university and so we actively encourage applications from eligible candidates from these groups.

Cranfield Doctoral Network

Research students at Cranfield benefit from being part of a dynamic, focused and professional study environment and all become valued members of the Cranfield Doctoral Network. This network brings together both research students and staff, providing a platform for our researchers to share ideas and collaborate in a multi-disciplinary environment. It aims to encourage an effective and vibrant research culture, founded upon the diversity of activities and knowledge. A tailored programme of seminars and events, alongside our Doctoral Researchers Core Development programme (transferable skills training), provide those studying a research degree with a wealth of social and networking opportunities.

How to apply

For further information please contact: 
Professor Upul KG Wijayantha
E: upul.wijayantha@cranfield.ac.uk
T: (0) 1234 758032

If you are eligible to apply for this studentship, please complete the online application form stating reference number: SWEE0252

For further information contact us today:
Admissions
T: +44 (0)1234 758082
E: studyenergy@cranfield.ac.uk