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Name of scholarship/program

Reversible thermo-responsive Polymers for inherently safet Lithium Battery Electrolytes.



Important description
Thermal effects in lithium battery systems cause capacity fading and side reactions which, if unmanaged, not only can compromise battery performance, but also the safety of end-users. This is particularly the case as most lithium and sodium battery electrolytes are dissolved in flammable, organic solvents. Any exothermic activity that is not adequately managed can lead to overheating and thermal runaway. Thermal runaway may eventually result in venting, fire and/or explosion of the battery. Safety at individual cell, pack and module levels is engineered and sustained with protection measures including positive temperature coefficient devices, flame retardants among many others, and failures are considered to be rare. However, this has not prevented a number of high profile incidents in high reliability sectors. As higher energy density battery systems are developed to de-carbonise the transport and energy sectors, higher demands are placed on protective systems, therefore there is a need for inherently safer high energy density battery chemistries that are less reliant on add-on safety measures.
The proposed project involves the development of reversible thermo-responsive polymers for lithium-ion batteries. Reversible thermo-responsive polymers in electrolytes offer great promise for inherently safer electrochemical systems as batteries become internally self-regulated: at low temperatures, when the polymer is soluble and provides ions, the electrochemical reactions take place as intended. As the temperature rises above a pre-defined threshold, the polymer phase separates, isolating the electrodes thus preventing further reaction and materials degradation. This effect is reversible, allowing the battery to resume operation as intended once the temperature has been brought down to safe levels. As part of the project, a range of reversible thermo-responsible formulations will be tested to identify and fine-tune both the lower critical solution temperature and the composition for compatibility with non-aqueous lithium battery chemistries.
The project would particularly suit an engineering graduate with a strong interest in electrochemistry and safety engineering. As part of the project, the student will be expected to produce high quality technical reports and present their work in conferences both in the UK and abroad. With energy storage and battery technologies being at the forefront of research by both public funding bodies and the automotive industry, it is expected that career prospects for the successful graduate will be excellent.


Eligibility and other criteria
This research project is one of a number of projects at this institution. It is in competition for funding with one or more of these projects. Usually the project which receives the best applicant will be awarded the funding. The funding is available to citizens of a number of European countries (including the UK). In most cases this will include all EU nationals. However full funding may not be available to all applicants and you should read the full department and project details for further information.


Application deadline
*Applications accepted all year round


Additional information, and important URL
http://www.shef.ac.uk/postgraduate/info/englang

Candidates should have a First Class or Upper Second Class Honours degree in Chemical Engineering, Process Safety, Material Science, Chemistry or related discipline. If English is not your first language then you must have IELTS average of 6.5 or above with at least 5.5 in each component - see http://www.shef.ac.uk/postgraduate/info/englang
Fees and Stipend at the standard UK Research Council will be offered on a competition basis for a UK applicant.
EU applicants would be eligible for Fees Only (not stipend).
Overseas applicants are not eligible for this funding but are welcome to apply if able to self-fund the programme.


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