Postgraduate research opportunities

EPSRC Industrial CASE Studentship: Quality control for hydrogen fuel cell and electrolyser electrodes

Mass manufacture of fuel cells and electrolysers requires advanced characterisation tools for rapid inspection of critical components. This project will develop and test a prototype electrochemical, optical and thermally instrumented test cell for electrode characterisation in a production line environment.

Number of places



Home fee, Stipend


5 March 2021


10 May 2021


4 years


Students applying should have (or expect to achieve) a high 2.1 undergraduate degree in a relevant Engineering/science discipline, and must be highly motivated to undertake multidisciplinary research. 

This funding is subject to UKRI eligibility criteria:

  • UKRI fees and stipend can only be awarded to UK and EU students and not to EEA or
  • EU students are only eligible for UKRI stipend if they have been resident in the UK for 3 years, International students; including for study purposes, immediately prior to starting their PhD;
  • If an EU student cannot fulfil this condition, then they are eligible for a fees only studentship;
  • International students cannot be funded from UKRI funds unless they are ‘settled’ in the UK. ‘Settled’ means being ordinarily resident in the UK without any immigration restrictions on the length of stay in the UK. To be ‘settled’ a student must either have the Right to Abode or Indefinite leave to remain in the UK. If the student’s passport describes them as a British citizen, they have the Right of Abode.
  • Students with full Refugee status are eligible for fees and full stipend.
  • It is important to note that residential eligibility is based on a physical presence in the UK.

British citizenship in itself does not satisfy the residential eligibility requirement.

Project Details

Clean hydrogen is rapidly gaining traction as an essential component of a low carbon economy and could potentially meet 24% of the world’s energy needs by 2050. Fuel cells and electrolysers are key enabling technologies for hydrogen use, and their commercial production is accelerating. A major priority of fuel cell and electrolyser manufacturers is ensuring the quality of electrodes produced during mass manufacture as failure of a single component is a critical safety and performance issue. The structure of these electrodes is complex, with thin layers of catalytic and ion-conducting functional materials.

This project will develop rapid, high accuracy electrode characterisation techniques suitable for advanced quality inspection tools in industry. Central to the proposal is the development of a fully instrumented electrochemical test cell, which will integrate several operando characterisation techniques, such as current mapping, cyclic voltammetry, impedance spectroscopy, optical and infrared imaging, Raman spectroscopy and online gas analysis, to allow both rapid characterisation of electrodes for quality control and a deeper understanding of degradation mechanisms occurring in electrodes. The project will address the scientific challenges of correlating analytical data with cell performance in a high throughput setting to produce a highly novel, powerful analytical tool that will lead to increased reliability of device performance and reduced waste during manufacture. The primary output of the project will be to demonstrate the feasibility of an end-of-line tool for quality control during electrode manufacture, enhancing device reliability and reducing waste.

The project will be carried out in collaboration with the Electrochemistry group at the National Physical Laboratory (NPL). NPL has a record of excellence in developing in situ measurement techniques for fuel cells and electrolysers, including spectroscopic methods. They will support the initial design of the instrumented cell and work with the student and industry partners to suggest protocols for electrochemical and spectroscopic measurements. They will participate in monthly technical meetings with the student and will host them at NPL’s main site in Teddington (South West London) for 3 to 6 months of placement over the 4 year project. Included in the partnership with NPL, the student will have access to support as well as technical and research skills training provided by Postgraduate Institute for Measurement Science (PGI).

Funding Details

This 4-year PhD position is funded by an EPSRC iCASE award in collaboration with NPL. The position includes a competitive enhanced tax-free stipend, home fees fully paid and a generous project budget for consumables, travel to NPL, and conference attendance. This is open to students from the UK or EU with “settled” status.


Primary supervisor - Dr Edward Brightman

Secondary supervisor - Graham Smith (NPL) 


Further information

Deadline: 12 April 2021. To be considered for this studentship, please apply online via including:

  • A one-page cover letter detailing your reasons for applying for this specific PhD project
  • A CV
  • The names and email addresses of two referees, who may be contacted ahead of interview

Shortlisting and interviews will take place shortly after the deadline.

Contact us

James Weir Building, 75 Montrose Street, Glasgow, G1 1XJ

How to apply

Apply for this project here – please quote the project title in your application.

During the application you'll be asked for the following information and evidence uploaded to the application:

  • your full contact details
  • transcripts and certificates of all degrees
  • proof of English language proficiency if you are not from a majority English-speaking country as recognised by UKVI
  • two references, one of which must be academic. Please see our guidance on referees
  • funding or scholarship information
  • international students must declare any previous UK study

By filling these details out as fully as possible, you'll avoid any delay to your application being processed by the University.

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