PhD title: “Monitoring the microstructural evolution of solid oxide fuel cell anodes”
My project was conducted under the supervision of Prof Paul Shearing in the Electrochemical Innovation Lab at UCL, applying their suite of lab-based X-ray computed tomography (CT) instruments to investigate changes within anodes as solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) were held at operating temperatures. Through the combined use of laser micro-machining, focused-ion beam milling, and both lab- and synchrotron-based X-ray CT, a method was developed to monitor degradation processes related to microstructural changes that occur in state-of-the-art SOFCs. A three-month placement at Ceres Power, an intermediate-temperature SOFC company, was an invaluable asset to my studies.
I am currently a Research Fellow, working with Prof Peter Nockemann, in the School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at Queen’s University Belfast. My research focus has shifted to longer-term energy storage, in the form of redox flow batteries. In particular, my project looks to optimise cell design, substitute expensive and toxic vanadium electrolytes for cheaper, more benign alternatives, whilst using advanced characterisation techniques and electrochemical methods to monitor side-reactions, crossover and maximise performance. A 3D-printed parametric cell has been designed to allow for a comprehensive design of experiments approach and electrolyte screening has identified potential candidates for further examination.
I really enjoyed my time as a member of the CDT-ACM. It provided the opportunity to gain experience with a wide range of materials characterisation techniques and to engage with the wider research community by participating in conferences and Outreach events.