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Reference : UMR5279-FREMAI-004
Workplace : ST MARTIN D HERES
Date of publication : Thursday, July 23, 2020
Scientific Responsible name : Laetitia Dubau
Type of Contract : PhD Student contract / Thesis offer
Contract Period : 36 months
Start date of the thesis : 1 September 2020
Proportion of work : Full time
Remuneration : 2 135,00 € gross monthly
Description of the thesis topic
Emission-free transport is a fundamental pillar for the energy transition towards a green energy landscape. Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cells (PEMFCs), using hydrogen (H2) and oxygen (O2), are at the forefront of the portfolio of practical solutions that are emerging on the market. Under the framework of a collaborative project, the Laboratory of Electrochemistry and Physico-Chemistry (LEPMI), SYMBIO (Grenoble, France), ZSW (Ulm, Germany) and Heraeus (Germany) aimed at identifying and unlocking obstacles limiting the implementation of promising O2 reduction reaction (ORR) nanocatalyst materials, identified after fundamental and model investigations in well-controlled laboratory conditions, into efficient PEMFC cathodes. To this goal, state-of-the-art ORR nanocatalysts (octahedral, cubic, hollow, nanowires and spongy) will be synthesized, and the synthesis processes will be scaled-up in a stepwise manner to reach volumetric quantities allowing MEAs manufacturing. The (i) structure and the chemistry of these nanocatalysts and (ii) the ionomer content and distribution within the cathode structure will be determined at each step of the membrane-electrodes assembly (MEA) manufacturing process to rationalize changes of performance in model and real PEMFC systems. A specific diagnostic toolbox, combining advanced physical, chemical and electrochemical experimental techniques, will be specifically developed and used to adapt the ink formulation from which the MEAs are manufactured (catalyst content and chemistry, ionomer content and chemistry, solvent composition, use of additives). Upon integration in a single PEMFC cell, the core components will be visualized in operando conditions at ESRF thanks to a collaboration with ID31, and mitigation strategies to the issues related to complex ionomer / catalyst interactions (incomplete wetting of the catalyst by the ionomer, poor accessibility for oxygen to the catalytic sites) will be proposed.
We are looking for a dynamic personality with background in physical chemistry, electrochemistry or materials science who enjoys working in a multi-disciplinary environment. She (he) should interact easily with people, speak English fluently (French is a plus), and possess the ability to implement new research ideas and to develop new characterization methods.
This PhD thesis subject is part of an ANR-BMBF project (BRIDGE)
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