PhD Studentship: Thin film coatings of novel alloy membranes for hydrogen purification

Closing Date
Wednesday, 7th March 2018

Advanced Materials Research Group, Engineering Faculty

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

The majority of global H2 production is derived from hydrocarbon-based fuels, and efficient and pure H2/CO2 separation is key. Hydrogen-selective alloy membranes are a viable alternative to pressure swing absorption processes as a means for H2/CO2 separation. Membranes based on Pd alloys are available but the high cost of Pd (£ ~25,000 kg-1), is driving the development of less-expensive alternatives, such as inexpensive amorphous (Ni60Nb40)100-xZrx alloys. Amorphous alloy membranes can be fabricated directly from the molten state into continuous ribbons via melt spinning, and depending on the composition, can exhibit relatively high hydrogen permeability between 473 and 673 K.This project will look at physical vapour deposition methods such as magnetron sputtering to develop novel cost effective membranes. Such coatings will involve a step change in approach being directly deposited by PVD, new compositions both amorphous and crystalline and the potential to deposit multilayers through our unique equipment. These new alloys coatings will be investigated with respect to permeation behavior, electrical transport properties, and understanding of local atomic order.As part of the PhD the student will collaborate with a number of partners worldwide through our membership if the IEA-HIA Task 32 grouping in Hydrogen storage systems and also utilize central neutron and synchrotron facilities in UK and USA. 

Studentship summary: The 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 an innovative, 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 Prof David Grant (

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.