KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm has grown to become one of Europe’s leading technical and engineering universities, as well as a key centre of intellectual talent and innovation. We are Sweden’s largest technical research and learning institution and home to students, researchers and faculty from around the world. Our research and education covers a wide area including natural sciences and all branches of engineering, as well as in architecture, industrial management, urban planning, history and philosophy.
Electromobility is generally argued to be the solution to significantly reduce the fossil fuel consumption in the transport sector, and so, the carbon dioxide and air pollution emissions. Fuel cell electric vehicles are attractive as a long-range and high-energy alternative to battery electric vehicles. Due to its high activity, scalability, fast start and stop ability, and matureness the proton exchange membrane fuel cell (PEMFC) is the fuel cell technology of choice for propulsion of vehicles today. However, to be competitive there is still a need for more research and development to reduce costs and increase longevity. Globally, the fuel cell research field covers everything from new components, including the development and analysis of catalysts, membranes, and bipolar plates, to characterisation of cell assemblies and stacks and optimisation of operation conditions, to system integration into vehicles and hydrogen infrastructure.
One way to reduce costs is to minimize the amount of platinum in the catalysts either by modifying the Pt catalyst or by using Pt-free catalysts. Another is to exchange the membrane to a less expensive one. In a previous joint project between academia and industry, new fuel cell components, including catalysts, membranes, and bipolar plates, were developed and characterised. As an example, anion exchange membrane (conducting hydroxide ions instead of protons) was synthesised at Lund University and studied in an Anion Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell (AEMFC) at Applied Electrochemistry KTH. Using alkaline membranes in fuel cells is interesting as it is a new challenging and rapidly advancing field with many opportunities for innovations. The alkaline environment also makes possible the use of less expensive alternatives to platinum catalysts.
This doctoral student project will focus on studying the performance and durability of membrane electrode assembled cells compiled of components that were developed in the previous project. By employing various electrochemical techniques, important properties such as electrode activity, contact resistances, transport of ions, water and gases at different operation conditions will be studied as well as the interaction between components for instance between the electrode and the bipolar plates. Special emphasis will be paid on durability aspects, and the development of methodology to study durability in single cells as well as in stacks. Electrochemical evaluation of the different materials will be made at KTH in small fuel cells where the operating conditions can be varied within wide ranges and thus simulate conditions in different parts of the stack. Complementary methods of analysis such as microscopy, NMR and mass spectrometry are available for studies of morphology or water and ion transport through the membrane and electrodes.
The doctoral student project will be performed within a larger national collaboration between research groups at Applied Electrochemistry KTH, Centre for Analysis and Synthesis at LU, Chemical Physics at Chalmers and industry partners; including automotive (Scania), fuel cell component and stack manufacturers (Sandvik, Cell Impact, Powercell, myFC), and service and interest organisations (Intertek, Hydrogen Sweden). The project is supported by Strategic Vehicle Research and Innovation (FFI) via the Swedish Energy Agency.Placement: Div. Applied Electrochemistry, Dept of Chemical Engineering, School of Engineering Sciences in Chemistry, Biotechnology, and Health (CBH).
The applicant should have a Master of Science or Civil Engineer degree in chemical engineering, engineering physics (engineering science), physical chemistry or a related field. The project is partially multi-disciplinary and a broad technical background is an advantage. Good oral and written communication skills in English are required. Knowledge in Swedish language is an advantage. Good background knowledge in electrochemistry is appreciated but not a must.The candidate should be highly motivated for doing scientific research and should have well developed analytical and problem solving skills as well as an interest and curiosity for multi-disciplinary problems in the context of greener energy solutions for a sustainable society.
To address its varied work, KTH aims to employ a diversity of talent and thus welcomes applicants who will add to the variety of the University, especially concerning its gender structure.
Form of employment: fixed term contract. The salary is set according to the current agreement on doctoral student employment. Within the employment, departmental work may be included, but to a maximum of 20%.
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