Hydrogen storage researcher wins top women in engineering accolade

Tuesday, 23 June 2020

A Nottingham expert exploring new materials to safely store hydrogen as a green fuel for vehicles is today named one of the Top 50 Women in Engineering for 2020 by the Women’s Engineering Society (WES).

Dr Xuanli Luo is a Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellow in the Advanced Materials Research Group

She is one of two Nottingham academics to secure a Top 50 Women in Engineering: Sustainability award along with Professor Rachel Gomes, for her pioneering work to effectively store hydrogen in advanced nano-materials.

While hydrogen is thought to be an environmentally-friendly fuel cells for vehicles, producing only water on combustion, its widespread use has been limited by a lack of safe, efficient system for on-board storage. Hydrogen is highly flammable and has a very low volumetric energy density; which are storage issues Dr Luo is looking to solve with new nano-materials.

Dr Luo began her research thanks to a Daphne Jackson Fellowship in the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Nottingham in 2017. Since completing her Fellowship, Dr Luo’s career has gone from strength to strength and she is now continuing her research, still at Nottingham, with a prestigious Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellowship.

“I’m honoured to be included in the WE50 awards today. Thank you to WES and of course to the Daphne Jackson Trust who nominated me and supported me on my journey back to engineering.”
Research Associate, Dr Xuanli Luo, a Leverhulme Fellow in the Faculty of Engineering

The WE50 awards seek to recognise the wealth of female talent within engineering and related disciplines; an annual celebration aligned with the campaign International Women in Engineering Day (INWED) which takes place today on 23 June.

Now in its fifth year, the 2020 WE50 celebrates women who have made a significant contribution within sustainability. Winning nominees were required to provide evidence of their successful support of UNESCO’s Sustainable Development Goals or the Net Zero Carbon Programme. Even in the current climate, the number and standard of nominations were high, emphasising the exceptional achievements made by women in this field. The WE50 awards were judged by a panel of industry experts.

Dr Xuanli Luo and her WE50 award
“We are absolutely delighted that Xuanli has been awarded such a prestigious accolade. Her research is crucially important as we move as a society towards the need for more sustainable transport and therefore, it is fitting that she has been identified as one of the Top 50 Women in Engineering by the Women’s Engineering Society. I would like to thank both the judges and the Women’s Engineering Society for their recognition of Xuanli’s achievements, she is truly an inspiration to us all.”
Professor Sam Kingman, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Nottingham

Dr Katie Perry, Chief Executive of the Daphne Jackson Trust, said, “I couldn’t be more delighted with the recognition of Xuanli’s career achievements and of the news today that she is included in the WE50 winners. We nominated Xuanli for her exemplary research project along with her determination and commitment to return to research.

“She is an inspiration for all other women at all stages of their STEM and research careers. She is proof that a successful career in engineering doesn’t have to end when you have a career break. Xuanli has successfully returned to the sector with a Daphne Jackson Fellowship and is now a Leverhulme Trust Fellow and an award winner.”

All of the 2020 WE50 winners are published on the INWED website and will be celebrated during WES’ own virtual INWED event on 23 June and across social media and press throughout the world.

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More information is available from Dr Xuanli Luo at or Emma Lowry, Media Relations Manager (Engineering) on

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