Next-generation in-situ sensors for hydrogen fuel cells

Next-generation in-situ sensors for hydrogen fuel cells

Eligibility: UK/International (including EU) graduates with the required entry requirements

Funding details: Bursary plus tuition fees (UK/International)

Duration: Full-Time – between three and three and a half years fixed term

Application deadline: 30 June 2021

Interview date: Will be confirmed to shortlisted candidates

Start date: September 2021

For further details contact: Dr Oliver Curnick


Coventry University is inviting applications from suitably-qualified graduates for a fully-funded PhD studentship aiming to develop and demonstrate advanced in-situ sensing technologies for low-temperature fuel cells.

About the project

Hydrogen fuel cells, and particularly proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFCs), are increasingly being recognised as an important technology on the road to achieving zero net carbon emissions in the transportation sector – in particular for heavy-duty applications, where durability is a primary concern and stack lifetimes of the order of 20,000-30,000 hours are required.

Non-uniform fluid, current and temperature distributions at PEMFC electrodes can negatively affect performance and durability.  In-situ sensing allows diagnosis of such non-uniformities so that models can be validated and designs and control strategies can be improved.  Existing in-situ sensing tools are bulky, costly, have poor spatial resolution and typically measure only current & temperature. More advanced instrumentation techniques capable of measuring local humidity and electrode potential are costly and typically can only be applied to the study of single cells, whose operating environment differs from that of a stack. 

Meanwhile, advances in printed electronics and sensor technologies have enabled new approaches to in-situ measurements in electrochemical devices, such as those pioneered by our group at Coventry for measurement of electrode potential and temperature in Li-ion batteries.

This project aims to explore the adaptation of such sensors for use with PEMFC stacks and application for in-situ measurement of quantities including current, temperature, electrode potential, humidity, mass flow and chemical composition.

The studentship is co-funded by FEV UK Ltd, whose activities in the automotive sector will provide valuable industry exposure to the successful candidate.


Fully-funded PhD studentship open to UK and international (including EU) applicants.

Tax-free stipend of £15609  per annum with annual increment.


The successful candidate will receive comprehensive research training including technical, personal and professional skills.

All researchers at Coventry University (from PhD to Professor) are part of the Doctoral College and Centre for Research Capability and Development, which provides support with high-quality training and career development activities. 

Entry requirements

  • A minimum of a 2:1 first degree in a relevant discipline/subject area with a minimum 60% mark in the project element or equivalent with a minimum 60% overall module average. 
    the potential to engage in innovative research and to complete the PhD within a 3.5 years
  • a minimum of English language proficiency (IELTS overall minimum score of 7.0 with a minimum of 6.5 in each component)
In addition
  • A first degree in electrical or electronic engineering, physics, physical chemistry, electrochemistry, chemical engineering or a closely-related discipline is essential.
  • A Masters-level degree or equivalent experience in any of the above would be advantageous.
  • Basic electrical skills (e.g. wiring, soldering) are essential, along with an appreciation of electrical safety hazards.
  • Familiarity with typical electronic laboratory equipment (e.g. oscilloscopes, signal generators, spectrum analysers) would be advantageous.
  • Practical experience in testing and characterisation of electrochemical devices, batteries or fuel cells would be beneficial (e.g. use of potentiostats, battery cyclers).Knowledge and experience in solid state, electrochemical or optical sensor technologies would also be beneficial.



How to apply

All applications require full supporting documentation, a covering letter, plus a 2000-word supporting statement showing how the applicant’s expertise and interests are relevant to the project. 

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