PhD Studentship: Designing new materials for next-generation solid oxide fuel cells

Closing Date
Wednesday, 7th March 2018

Advanced Materials Research Group, Engineering Faculty

Supervised by Dr Ming Li, Professor Gavin Walker and Professor David Grant

Solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) are all-solid electrochemical devices that can convert chemical fuels directly into electricity. They represent a leading direction for future power generation as they offer both high energy conversion efficiency and great fuel flexibility (compatible with not only hydrogen but also existing fossil fuels). Despite the great potential as one of the most efficient and cleanest power generation technologies, to date commercialisation of SOFCs is still limited. Most commercial SOFCs need to be operated at high temperature (800-900 °C), which inducehigh costs and fast degradation of cell performance and make SOFCs commercially uncompetitive. Lowering operation temperature to 500-600 °C is crucial to bring widespread use of SOFCs into a reality. However, to date no SOFC electrode and electrolyte exhibit sufficient electrocatalytic activity and oxide ion conductivity to give desirable cell performance and stability at this temperature range. This project focuses on design and synthesis of new functional oxides with better intrinsic properties to enable building next-generation SOFCs with low operation temperature, high performance and long term stability. 

Studentship summary: The 4 year PhD position is available from 1 Sept 2018 (earlier start dates will be considered). The studentship covers both tuition fees and student stipend (£14,600 per annum for 2018/19 academic year. A top-up of £2,000 will be provided for an exceptional candidate). The student will also be part of the Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Fuel Cells and their Fuels (see below). 

Entry Requirements: UK/EU students. We are seeking a bright, highly motivated individual who has or is predicted to be awarded a first class or high 2(i) undergraduate honours degree or a second class honours degree plus a distinction at Master’s level in materials science, chemistry, chemical engineering, physics or a relevant discipline. 

To apply please visit:

For any enquiries please email Dr Ming Li (

This studentship is open until filled. Early application is strongly encouraged.

The EPSRC CDT in Fuel Cells and their Fuels: This is a collaboration coordinated by Birmingham University between 5 leading Universities. There is a vibrant community of 40 PhD students across these Universities investigating different aspects of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies and their applications. 

The CDT has a structured taught element through the first 18 months developing your understanding of the science, engineering and socio-economic issues related to hydrogen and fuel cell technologies, as well as developing transferrable skills sought by employees. There are a number of group and individual activities, including a one week summer school in Greece, short industry secondment in addition to attending national and international conferences which all help to develop key skills and expertise.