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Advanced mass transport control of the PEM electrolyser used in infrared thermal imaging

This offer is available in the following languages:
Français - Anglais

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General information

Reference : UMR5295-CHRPRA-001
Workplace : TALENCE
Date of publication : Tuesday, May 19, 2020
Scientific Responsible name : Pradere
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

Dn the framework of the IMAGING project between the University of Toronto (with Prof. A. Bazylak) and the CNRS (Prof. S. Chevalier and Dr. C. Pradère) at the I2M laboratory in Bordeaux, a PhD thesis on the advanced control of mass transport of PEM electrolysers using the Neutron & Infrared operand is proposed. Polymer Electrolyte Membrane Electrolyzers (PEM) are one of the most promising green technologies for the storage of energy from renewable but intermittent sources such as hydrogen. Efficiency and reliability still need to be improved in order to achieve the affordability and lifetime required for large-scale commercialization. Control of the mass transport behaviour of reagents and products at the microscopic scale in electrolysis channels and transport layers are key elements to achieve these objectives. For the first time, this issue will be addressed through a tryptic of advanced experimental techniques that include neutron imaging, thermospectroscopic imaging and thermal imaging. This new work will provide advanced knowledge on the physics of micro-scale mass transport under non-isothermal conditions, which will serve as new guidelines for the industry in the design of the next generation of PEM electrolysers.
Solving the problem of mass transport in a reactive flow, where electrochemical reactions take place, where multiphase fluids circulate in microporous media and where heat transfer affects most of the physical properties of the system, is an important scientific question that the research community has been trying to solve for several years [1]. In this thesis work, this issue will be addressed by a combination of innovative imaging methods and image-based modeling for inverse methods. The main application of this work will improve the performance of the PEM electrolyser. The PhD thesis will be divided into three main steps. First, the candidate will design a microfluidic PEM electrolyser for IR thermospectroscopy measurements. The IR imaging platform already developed in the I2M laboratory will be used [2] to measure 4D images (x, y, λ and T). In a second step, the PEM electrolyser measurements performed at I2M will be compared with the data collected by the A group. Bazylak's group at the University of Toronto (UofT) using neutron imaging [3] to validate the design of microfluidic PEM electrolysers. Finally, in the last step, a multiphysical electrolyser model will be developed by the candidate to be used for inverse image-based methods to estimate fluid properties and electrolyser performance. Specific operating regimes for deriving analytical solutions will be specifically targeted [4]. At the end, the PhD candidate will develop both multiphysical characterization and modeling of the PEM electrolyser during this thesis work in order to inform industrialists and manufacturers. Several round trips to Toronto (Canada) will be made during the thesis, and close collaboration with researchers at the University of Toronto will be required.

[1] A.Z. Weber, R.L. Borup, R.M. Darling, P.K. Das, T.J. Dursch, W. Gu, et al., A Critical Review of Modeling Transport Phenomena in Polymer-Electrolyte Fuel Cells, J. Electrochem. Soc. 161 (2014) F1254–F1299.
[2] M. Romano, C. Ndiaye, A. Duphil, A. Sommier, J. Morikawa, J. Mascetti, J.C. Batsale, L. Servant, C. Pradere, Fast infrared imaging spectroscopy technique (FIIST), Infrared Phys. Technol. 68 (2015) 152–158.
[3] C. Lee, J.K. Lee, B. Zhao, K.F. Fahy, J.M. LaManna, E. Baltic, D.S. Hussey, D.L. Jacobson, V.P. Schulz, A. Bazylak, Temperature-dependent gas accumulation in polymer electrolyte membrane electrolyzer porous transport layers, J. Power Sources. 446 (2020) 227312.
[4] S. Chevalier, J. Olivier, C. Josset, B. Auvity, Polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cell operating in stoichiometric regime, J. Power Sources. 440 (2019) 227100.

Work Context

The PhD candidate should have a strong background in heat and mass transfer, with a taste for non-linear electrochemical modeling. Knowledge of numerical methods for image processing will be an important asset for this PhD thesis. Most of the data processing will be performed in the MATLAB environment. The PhD candidate should have a strong interest in experimental work and data acquisition, and experience in microfluidic measurements will be an asset. The candidate may also be required to develop data acquisition programs using LabVIEW software.
Skills in microfabrication (micromachining, plasma deposition, lithography...) would be required for this PhD offer. A candidate holding an engineering degree from the best mechanical or chemical engineering schools or universities in France or Canada would be appreciated. Previous professional experience in a research environment (e.g. research internship) would also be appreciated. The candidate must speak and write English fluently in order to be able to exchange and collaborate with Canadian researchers. Knowledge of French would be appreciated.

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