Projects overview

The group are currently operating a range of projects on various topics, generously supported by many funding bodies, such as ERC, EPSRC and some industrial partners.

Project details

EPSRC-Beyond structural: multifunctional composites that store electrical energy

The project aims to develop structural supercapacitors in which the constituents (i.e. fibres and matrices) of the structural material are multifunctional,  inherently performing two disparate functions simultaneously: mechanical load bearing and electrical energy storage. Such devices offer important performance advantages in minimising system weight and volume, and present opportunities for innovative design. It is notable that there are several synergies between energy storage devices and polymer composites: the laminated architecture of such materials mirrors the electrode configuration in supercapacitors. Furthermore, both devices use carbon based reinforcements/electrodes infused with a polymeric matrix/electrolyte. Such parallels provide a strong motivation for wedding these two disparate fields to develop structural power materials. 

Supercapacitors consist of two high surface area electrodes, an electrolyte and a separator: charge is collected reversibly at the electrolyte/electrode interfaces. Their performance makes them useful as high power sources and, when used in conjunction with batteries, life extension for power sources for electric vehicles. For structural supercapacitors, there are two multifunctional components: a structural reinforcement/electrode, and a structural separator/electrolyte. Through our research in this field we have identified three critical challenges for structural supercapacitors: we will address these in this proposal. We will significantly improve how much electrical energy these devices can store (i.e. energy density), how quickly they can be charged or discharged (i.e. power density) and their mechanical performance. To improve energy density, we will develop reinforcements/electrodes with increased surface areas and electrochemical activity. In parallel, we will formulate matrices/electrolytes which are stiff and robust, thus giving enhanced mechanical performance, but with greater ionic conductivity, and hence power densities. In bringing the best constituents together to form multifunctional composites, we will exploit both existing architectures, developed in our previous work, and develop new ones. The project will culminate in demonstration of the best devices through fabrication and testing of industry inspired components. 

This class of multifunctional structural energy storage materials will have a huge impact on applications such as aerospace, automotive and portable electronics. For instance, imagine future tablet computers with no batteries, in which the electrical energy is stored in the casing material. Consider electric cars, in which the bonnet, doors and roof store all the energy to power the vehicle. Meeting such ambitions will have a profound effect on future engineering structures and will inspire others to work in this exciting field.

For more details, please visit: http://gow.epsrc.ac.uk/NGBOViewGrant.aspx?GrantRef=EP/P007465/1

H2020-Critical Raw material ElectrocatalystS replaCement ENabling Designed pOst-2020 PEMFC (Crescendo)

Crescendo is a European project involving two large industrial partners, an SME, and five universities/research institutes in an ambitious proposal that will require critical mass, pooled complementary skills and competences to reach its goals.

This project has the specific objective of developing highly active and long-term stable electrocatalysts of non-PGM catalysts for the PEMFC cathode and the re-design of the cathode catalyst layer on which very little systematic research has been done to date, so as to reach the project target power density of 0.42 W/cm2 at 0.7 V initially in small and ultimately full-size single cells. It also intends to develop non-PGM or ultra-low PGM anode catalysts with greater tolerance to CO and H2S impurities than current low Pt loaded anodes. The project builds on previous achievements in non-PGM catalyst development within all of the university and research organisation project partners. It benefits from the unrivalled know-how in catalyst layer development at JMFC and the overarching expertise at BMW in cell and stack testing and in guiding the materials development to align with systems requirements.

For more information, please visit: http://www.crescendo-fuelcell.eu/

Electrochemical harvesting of energy from industrial wastewater

Wastewater represents a potent source of energy which currently is underutilised. Industries such as food and beverage production, breweries, wineries or biofuel producers currently expend around USD15 billion worldwide for wastewater treatment, where energy and toxic chemicals and/or slow biological processes need to be used. This wastewater contains biosourced contaminants which could be used as a fuel to generate renewable electricity at almost no cost. We have developed a technology that can harvest this energy and at the same time decrease the contamination. The benefit of this technology is both generation of affordable electricity and money savings from lower water treatment costs. Unlike biological processes our electrochemical system does not contain microbes, which are sensitive to the water conditions, need close process control and expert knowledge. It is basically a “plug and play” process. Another benefit over current biological solutions is that it requires only 1% of the space of a biogas facility, so even companies with little space can implement it. The total renewable electricity produced and the energy saved for wastewater cleaning has the potential to save millions of tons of CO2, thus helping to mitigate climate change.

For more information, please visit: https://gtr.ukri.org/projects?ref=103382

H2FC SUPERGEN

The project seeks to address a number of key issues facing the hydrogen and fuel cells sector, specifically: (i) to evaluate and demonstrate the role of hydrogen and fuel cell research in the UK energy landscape, and to link this to the wider landscape internationally, (ii) to identify, study and exploit the impact of hydrogen and fuel cells in low carbon energy systems, and (iii) to create a cohort of academics and industrialists who are appraised of each other's work and can confidently network together to solve research problems which are beyond their individual competencies. Such systems will include the use of H2FC technologies to manage intermittency with increased penetration of renewables, supporting the development of secure and affordable energy supplies for the future. Both low carbon transport (cars, buses, boats/ferries) and low carbon heating/power systems employing hydrogen and/or fuel cells have the potential to be important technologies in our future energy system, benefiting from their intrinsic high efficiency and their ability to use a wide range of low to zero carbon fuel stocks.

For more inforamtion, please visit: http://gow.epsrc.ac.uk/NGBOViewGrant.aspx?GrantRef=EP/P024807/1

Innovative concepts from Electrodes to Stacks

The goal of this  project is to address Research theme 1 (Innovative concepts from Electrodes to stack) of the EPSRC-KETEP Call for Collaborative Research with Korea on Fuel Cell Technologies. it also covers some aspects of Research theme 2 (Predictive control for performance and degradation mitigation). Hence, this research is associated with improving the lifetime and performance of polymer electrolyte fuel cells. 

Within this project, new corrosion resistant catalyst supports will be developed and those supports will be catalysed utilising a new catalysis technique. The development of porous bipolar plates will be examined and how they can be integrated with catalysts within a fuel cell will be checked. The materials in test stacks will be trialed and the performance and longevity of these new materials will be evaluated. State of the art x-ray tomography and other imaging techniques  will be applied to assess the performance of the materials under real operating conditions. Information from these tests will allow to develop a methodological framework to simulate the performance of the fuel cells. This framework will then be used to build more efficient control strategies for our higher performance fuel cell systems.

For more information,  please visit: http://gow.epsrc.ac.uk/NGBOViewGrant.aspx?GrantRef=EP/M023508/1

ISCF Wave 1: Materials research hub for energy conversion, capture, and storage

The project sets out to advance understanding of the structure/function relations that control charge transport in energy materials, forging general principles that govern charge mobility and exchange. 

It will focus on 1) breaking the paradigm of 'power or energy' by making porous electrodes and porous or microstructured composites that produce power and energy, 2) structure/function relations that govern charge mobility in mixed ion/electron conductors (MIECs) and ultimately control the performance and stability of MIEC-based electrodes and active media and 3) elucidating transport modes in unconventional ion conducting polymers and ceramics. 

M-RHECCS will also research the translation of advances in porous electrodes, MIECs and ion-exchange materials into scaleable materials and devices and assess the value of better charge-transport materials to power generation via detailed analysis of operational data from actual building-integrated solar generation/storage systems.

For more information, please visit: http://gow.epsrc.ac.uk/NGBOViewGrant.aspx?GrantRef=EP/R023581/1

Multi-scale ANalysis for Facilities for Energy STorage (Manifest)

The project is to address a set of research questions that apply across the technologies supported by the capital investment. The key challenges will be considered, across length scales, from materials to devices, to systems, specifically addressing:

- How the materials used in enery storage technologies, including batteries and thermal energy

- How processes are modelled in the technologies, and validating the models with experiments

- How energy storage devices can be integrated into the energy system most effectively

- How data from operational runs of pilot plants can improve our understanding of the role of energy storage

This project can be the catalyst which leads to improved understanding of physical processes, accelerated technology development, and shared learning from the operation of energy storage technologies. The research will also drive further collaboration between institutions, build the national research and innovation community, increase recognition of the UK's role, and maximise the impact from these facilities in the international energy landscape.

For more information, please visit: http://gow.epsrc.ac.uk/NGBOViewGrant.aspx?GrantRef=EP/N032888/1

H2020-Membrane based Purification of Hydrogen System (MEMPHYS)

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Membrane based Purification of Hydrogen System (MEMPHYS) aims to develop a hydrogen purification system to reuse hydrogen from different industrial sources. 

Hydrogen could be recovered from biomass fermentation and industrial waste gas streams, however, this hydrogen is too impure to feed directly into a fuel cell. The MEMPHYS project plans to develop a hydrogen purification system, based on a membrane hydrogen purification module, which would produce clean, reliable and inexpensive hydrogen from impure sources. The project also intends to combine this purification system with an electrochemical compression system to compress the H2 to 200 bar for use in various applications.

The initiative is part of the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH2JU), a sub-grouping under Horizon 2020 that focuses on hydrogen and fuel cells. As part of the Horizon 2020 initiative, MEMPHYS receives funding from the EU and has a budget of about 2 Million Euros.

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There are a total of six partners from five different countries involved in the project, including two universities (Imperial College London, UK and Duale Hochschule Baden-Wurttemberg (DHBW), Germany), two research institutes (Institute “Jožef Stefan”, Slovenia and Jülich Forschungszentrum, Germany) and two companies (HyET Hydrogen, the Netherlands and Borit, Belgium). 

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For more details, please check the website: http://www.memphys.eu/

 

Shell Na RFB

The project is funded by Shell and includes three UK universities as partiers: University of Cambridge, University of Oxford and Imperial College London. The focus of the project is to understand fundamental phenomena in novel hybrid battery concept based on recirculating electrolytes. This requires anolyte and cathode development, for both performance and lifetime, and to ensure compatibility with selected water based and/or organic electrolytes.

H2020-Structural pOweR CompositEs foR futurE civil aiRcraft (SORCERER)

This project offers the aircraft industry a stepping-stone for realisation of ‘massless’ energy storage for future aircraft. The overall objective of the project is to advance structural power materials such that they can start to be adopted in Large Passenger Aircraft (LPA). There are three overarching objectives of SORCERER:
Objective 1: The technical issues associated with structural batteries will be addressed. Furthermore, the materials used should have been assessed against the specifications for future aircraft operational conditions.
Objective 2: The function of energy generation utilising ion-intercalated carbon fibres has been demonstrated in a much simplified manner at a small lab-scale. Attention will be paid to how this function works in more detail, how to improve the efficiency and power output, and move this potential technology up towards TRL3.
Objective 3: The critical issues associated with structural supercapacitors that hinder adoption of this technology into aerospace platforms will be concerned.  This will entail addressing the issues associated with improved power and energy densities, encapsulation and laminate hybridisation, and multifunctional design methodologies.

For more information, please visit: https://cordis.europa.eu/project/rcn/207252_en.html

H2020-Symbiotic

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Biosensors have the ability to recognize specific molecules (biomarkers) that indicate health conditions, such as cancer. However, their use is limited by the need to have them connected to an electricity generator system.

The Symbiotic project aims to develop an autonomous electrochemical biosensor that is lightweight, disposable and low cost by using an innovative approach: hosting its bioreceptor element inside a passive direct methanol fuel cell (DMFC). This will allow to build an electrically independent, very simple, miniaturized, autonomous electrical biosensor. This work proposes a merge between electrical biosensors and fuel cells, combining the advantages of both areas of research in a single synergetic device.

In this envisaged innovative device, the electrical signal obtained from the DMFC is directly related to the concentration of the cancer biomarker in the sample analyzed. The proposed electrochemical biosensor will be completely autonomous, operating at room temperature and using the oxygen present in the air, thereby allowing diagnosis everywhere.

Partnership

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For more information, please visit: http://symbiotic-project.eu