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The University of Southampton

Two PhD studentships to work on Zinc-Air flow batteries for elec-trical power distribution networks

Published: 5 January 2011

The Department of Chemistry and the School of Engineering Sciences at the University of Southampton are working to develop a rechargeable zinc-air battery system for large scale energy storage applications.

The work is funded through the European Seventh Framework Program and will be carried out in collaboration with several industrial partners from across Europe. The concept of the project is to create a new class of electrical energy storage system with the unique combination of characteristics of high energy density, modularity, fast response and low cost. To achieve these aims, the project will radically extend performance of zinc – air batteries from small scale single pri-mary cells to rechargeable redox flow battery modules, which at production scale can be stacked to give powers of 20 kW to MWs.

The two PhD projects (one registered in each School) will focus on the develop-ment and testing of novel catalysts and support materials in combination with electrochemical cell design, operation and characterisation. Such catalyst materials and an efficient cell design are essential for reversible operation of the positive electrode within the metal-air battery. The two positions offer a unique opportunity to carry out fundamental scientific research that also has a direct industrial relevance. Key objectives for the work include:

Developing materials which are effective electrocatalysts for both oxygen evolution and oxygen reduction in alkaline media.
Examining potential high surface area supports for the electrocatalysts and to demonstrate stability under all conditions met in the Zn/air battery. Investigation of membranes and electrode coatings in the battery.

Design of stable electrode structures that permit both oxygen evolution and re-duction; these may be based on GDE, MEA or zero gap type structures.
Performance assessment of the system through experimental observation and mathematical simulation.

The studentships are only open to UK or EU Nationals as we are unable to fund overseas fees. A Masters or an upper second class honours degree, BSc. Hons, (or equivalent) in Chemistry or Chemical Engineering is required.

The earliest starting date is 1 December 2010 and full funding is available for 3.5 years for each of the studentships, subject to satisfactory progress towards the degree.


Further details may be obtained by contacting Prof. Andrea Russell

Applications should be made via the Graduate School Office in the School of Chemistry by contacting Mrs. Chun Borodzicz

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