The University of Southampton

FEEG6008 Fuel Cells and Photovoltaic Systems 2

Module Overview

This module aims to provide the understanding of solar cell operation, relevant optical structures, photovoltaic systems and advanced concepts for high efficiency and low cost. Charge carrier statistics and transport are discussed in detail with application to solar cells. Photochemical solar energy conversion is illustrated on the example of dye-sensitised solar cells. A discussion of photovoltaic systems includes module operation under realistic conditions and a stand-alone system sizing based on energy balance. The module includes fundamentals of electrochemistry and characteristics of reversible and irreversible systems (ferricyanide/ferrocyanide) rotating disc electrode, reaction rate and mass transport, mechanism of the hydrogen evolution reaction, exchange current densities, characterisation of fuel cell electrodes; alkaline cero gap cells, water electrolysers for hydrogen production, metal-air batteries, alloys as Li-Ion battery anodes, alloy catalysts for oxygen reduction, phase stability in aqueous alloy systems and super capacitors.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

To provide fundamental and practical knowledge of the advantages and limitations of various types of existing energy storage and energy generation devices. The course explores the most common energy storage processes/systems and focuses on the principles and applications of electrochemical and photovoltaic systems which are treated in depth such as batteries and fuel cells and solar cells, their material architecture such as pore size, structure, composition, particle size as well as key energy storage parameters such as capacity, power, chargedischarge rates, and lifetimes.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • Physics of charge carrier generation, transport and energy conversion in different types of solar cells including silicon, thin film, dye sensitised and organic solar cells.
  • The optics of antireflection coatings and light trapping
  • Advanced high efficiency, photochemical and thermodynamic concepts
  • Stand alone and grid connected photovoltaic systems
  • Demonstrate their knowledge of different energy storage devices, understand their principles and appreciate their differences
  • Recognize and explain the fundamental principles of operation that govern electrochemical energy storage devices and appreciate important developments of this technology for applications in automotive, domestic and industrial sectors.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Think, observe, communicate, evaluate information and data, analyse and solve problems
  • Concept development.
  • Realise the challenges to these technologies and appreciate future development needs.
  • Appreciate and understand the literature on energy storage and their current development,
  • Communicate ideas and concepts effectively, both orally and in writing within an academic context, on the principles, performance and challenges of these technologies
  • Appreciate the developments in, and requirements for, future of energy storage technologies
  • Outline and develop, in a selected topic of electrochemistry and energy storage, a series of course works which include a critical reflexion and a critical analysis of results together with conclusions, recommendations and references.
  • Team work,
  • Individual and group presentations,
  • Plan and organisation on time and with the available resources
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Construct a model of a semiconductor solar cell and apply it to practical devices
  • Size a standalone system using a time series of solar radiation data
  • Predict the energy output from a grid connected system
  • Plan, design and present a mini-paper (one page) on a selected topic of electrochemistry,
  • Demonstrate the ability to present and defend a specific topic on energy storage in a team or in front of an audience,
  • Research topics on energy storage technologies and find relevant information in the literature
  • Write and illustrate a scoping study with appropriate comparative graphs and tables.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Search and critically review technical literature relevant to photovoltaics
  • Analyse in detail the performance of solar cells and photovoltaic systems
  • Being able to solve some problems of energy storage, in principle, using electrochemical devices
  • Appreciate the strengths and limitations of various electrochemical and other energy storage systems
  • Quantitatively describe the performance of an energy storage device for a specific application.


Fuel cells, Electrochemical Energy Conversion: Modern Batteries (lectures + Revision): - This part of the course outlines energy storage systems and methods, their performance and comparisons. In particular, the course emphasises the principles and applications of electrochemical energy storage systems with the concept of integrating them into sustainable processes. The course comprises several aspects of fundamental electrochemistry. - Overview of the most common energy storage systems such as: hydrogen storage, capacitors, and electrochemical energy storage systems. Examples of integrated technology will be shown with calculations of energy efficiency and figures of merit for performance. - A review of Flow Battery systems and their state of development will be presented with applications in load levelling and strategic energy management. The link between materials properties and reactor performance of these systems will be explained. - A review of the principles and applications of different types of lithium-ion and lead-acid batteries, electrode materials and electrolyte compositions, memory and ageing effects, charge and discharge behaviours, state of charge and safety. Advanced Photovoltaic systems (Lectures + Revision): - Semiconductor physics: Carrier statistics and transport. Collection and quantum efficiency. - Optics in solar energy conversion: antireflection coatings, concentration of light. - Advanced topics: photochemical and photosynthetic energy conversion; “3G” mechanisms, thermodynamic concepts - Dye sensitised, thin film, organic and multi junction solar cells – principles and advances - Introduction to conversion of solar energy to chemical energy - Photovoltaic systems: Grid connected and stand-alone systems; sizing.

Special Features


Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

The teaching methods employed in the delivery of this module include: - Lectures - Solutions to assigned problems - Revision tutorials - Demonstrations and video material when appropriate - A web site with access to in-depth materials The learning activities include: - Individual reading of background material and course texts, plus work on examples. - Example sheets and worked solutions. - Assignment and self-study - Problem solving during lectures - Individual work on a case study/mini-project

Completion of assessment task18
Follow-up work18
Preparation for scheduled sessions18
Wider reading or practice18
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

T. Markvart and L. Castañer (2003). Practical Handbook of Photovoltaics: Fundamentals and Applications. 

A. Luque. S. Hegedus (2003). Handbook of Photovoltaic Science and Engineering. 

T. Markvart (2000). Solar Electricity. 

M. Archer and R. Hill (2001). Clean Electricity from Photovoltaics. 

Pletcher, Derek (2009). A first course in electrode processes.. 

C. Ponce de León, G.W. Reade, I. Whyte, S.E. Male, F.C. Walsh. (2007). Characterisation of the reaction environment in a filter-press redox flow reactor. Electrochimica Acta. ,52 , pp. 5815-5823.

F. Lasnier and T.G. Ang (1990). Photovoltaic Engineering Handbook. 

A. Goetzberger, J. Knobloch and B. Voss (1998). Crystalline silicon solar cells. 

Bard, Allen J. and Faulkner, Larry R. (2001). Electrochemical methods: fundamentals and applications. 

J. Larminie and A. Dicks (2001). Fuel Cells Systems Explained. 

G. Beckmanm and P.V. Gilli. (1984). Thermal energy storage: basics design, applications to power generation and heat supply. 

C. Ponce de León, A. Frías-Ferrer, J. González-García, D.A. Szánto, F. C. Walsh (2006). Redox flow cells for energy conversion. Journal of Power Sources. ,160 , pp. 716.

Colin A. Vincent and Bruno Scrosati (1997). Modern batteries: An introduction to Electrochemical Power Sources. 

M.A. Green (1982). Solar Cells: Operating Principles, Technology and Practice. 


Assessment Strategy

Teaching takes place mainly in the lecture sessions where the principles are explained and illustrated by examples and relevant applications. Some lectures will be given by an industrial expert on fuel cells to provide a commercial perspective on the technology. Students are expected to learn material through the use of web-based material, by self-study and by problem solving during the lectures/tutorials. Students will carry out an assignment to suggest a suitable fuel cell for a specific application. The corresponding report will be marked and feedback given. The students will also assessed by a 2 hour written examination at the end of the module. Individual coursework based on experimental demonstration, the students have to produce a one page paper that includes: 1) Brief introduction on the topic 2) Experimental details 3) Results and discussion 4) Conclusions 5) References For the individual research or problem solving activity, students should be able to present the highlight of the proposed research activity or solve a problem, an example could be: Question 1) A manufacturer of PEM fuel cells requires the membrane electrode assembly to be fully characterized. Describe the techniques which should be used. Give examples which show techniques for: a) membrane area resistance, b) active Pt electrode area. Relate a) to the stack voltage and b) to the Pt loading degree of utilization. Question 2) A new energy efficient building is planned and it is suggested that light energy incident on roof mounted solar cells is used together with an electrochemical energy storage system. Provide a general overall design for such a hybrid system. a) specify the types of device, b) explain their principles of operation c) summarize previous experience providing references. Deadlines: Deadlines for the course works are one week after they have been assigned. Students are expected to ask about the procedure or any question related to the course work within the week. Penalties for late handle in are applicable according to the course book. Feedback: Written feedback is given for each course work, normally within a week




MethodPercentage contribution
Assignment 10%
Assignment 10%
Exam  (120 minutes) 80%


MethodPercentage contribution
Exam  (120 minutes) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

Linked modules

Pre-requisite module/s: FEEG6007 Fuel Cells and Photovoltaic Systems


To study this module, you will need to have studied the following module(s):

FEEG6007Fuel Cells and Photovoltaic Systems 1
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