PhD Studentship: Next-generation In-situ Sensors for Hydrogen Fuel Cells



How to apply:

To find out more about the project please contact Dr Oliver Curnick oliver.curnick(at)

To apply on line please visit:

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.

Eligibility: UK/EU and international graduates with the required entry requirements

Start date: September 2021

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

Enquiries may be addressed to: Oliver Curnick; oliver.curnick(at)

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[1]. 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[2,3], 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[4,5].

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.

Coventry University (CU) has a new eMobility Group based at the Centre for Low Carbon Propulsion Systems (C-ALPS), which is part of the Institute for Future Transport and Cities.  The Group brings together existing CU expertise with academics in energy storage, power electronics and electric machines. In total the new group comprises of over 25 full time academics making it one of the largest UK based academic teams conducting e-mobility research.

The main focus of the Group is de-carbonisation of transport, with electrification of propulsion systems as a key aspect. This is where the C-ALPS expertise lies, together with the energy storage systems design, assembly and evaluation facilities.

This PhD project will make use of the brand-new C-ALPS hydrogen fuel cell research laboratory, which is equipped with state-of-the-art facilities for development and testing of hydrogen fuel cells from single cells up to 10kW scale stacks.

C-ALPS also hosts the UK headquarters of FEV, who are a key partner and industrial sponsor of this PhD studentship.  FEV’s activities in the automotive sector will provide valuable industry exposure to the successful candidate.