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Current R&D Projects

Reducing the cost of fuel cell components and pilot production of bipolar plate coatings (ReCOPP)


Funded By: InnovateUK, UK-Taiwan Collaborative R&D

Period: 2024-2027


Develop corrosion-resistant long-lifetime low-cost coatings for bipolar plate application in fuel cell, and design & build an in-line vacuum system for pilot production of such coatings.

Develop low precious-metal loading nano catalyst, evaluate its performance in fuel cell stack, and then scale up


Partners: University of Birmingham, (UK); SurfTech (Taiwan)



Advanced Multidisciplinary Research for Antimicrobial Resistance (AMRAMR)



Period: 2024-2028


The objective of the proposed joint exchange program is to establish long-term stable research cooperation between the partners with interdisciplinary expertise and knowledge to develop Advanced Multidisciplinary Research for Antimicrobial Resistance (AMRAMR), including the development of novel antibacterial nanomaterials and nanostructures, novel antibacterial thin films coatings, up conversion technology for AMR applications, photonics technology for AMR application, and evaluation of the antibacterial performance and antimicrobial resistance; the synergetic effect for the above approaches to understanding antimicrobial resistance. 


Partners: University of Leicester (UK), University of Valencia (Spain), International Iberian Nanotechnology Lab (Portugal), University of Bologna (Italy), University of Aveiro (Portugal), Fudan University (China), and Alfred University (USA)] and industrial partners [Teer Coatings Ltd (UK)]. 



High Durability Solid Oxide Electrolyser Stacks with Enhanced Coated Interconnects and Metal Ion Infiltrated Electrodes – HiDroConnect


Funded By: InnovateUK, UK (UK-South Korea Collaborative R&D Round 2)

Period: 2023-2026


Solid oxide electrolysers (SOE) are a viable alternative to promote the sustainability of the energy industry. However, the performance, lifetime, durability, and cost of SOEs are still challenging along with the scale-up from kW to MW level. The interconnect plays an important role as a current collector and a physical barrier that separates the electrodes between cells. It must meet technical requirements such as matching thermal expansion coefficient to other (ceramic) layers, high thermal and electrical conductivities, formation of a dense low-resistive oxide layer in redox atmospheres, and high thermomechanical strength at elevated temperatures (600 to 900 deg C). One problem with steel interconnects is chromium poisoning of the air electrodes due to the evaporation of chromium from the interconnect. There is a need for conducting protective coatings to prevent this. This project focuses on developing protective PVD coatings, which benefit from a dense structure and scalability, allowing high performance and making them suitable for commercialisation. 


Partners: University of Birmingham (UK); E&KOA (Korea); Changwon National University (Korea)



Developing Resilient Catalysts For Low-grade Water Electrolysis


Funded By: InnovateUK, UK, (Short Calls)

Period: 2023


Green hydrogen is a critical energy vector in our transition to net zero. In the UK alone, green hydrogen production is expected to increase from ~27TWh today to ~700 TWh by 2050. Low temperature water electrolysis is a viable route to scale up green hydrogen production to the terawatt scale. Proton exchange membrane (PEM) water electrolyzes have been identified as the technology most amenable to coupling with renewable energy for large-scale water electrolysis. However, current technologies rely on ultra high pure water, which limits the design flexibility, device performance and lifetime. It also adds operations complexity and cost. The water oxidation reaction, at the anode, is kinetically sluggish and contributes to the largest fraction of the energy and efficiency loss in PEM electrolyzes. It is also particularly impacted by the presence of ions in the electrolyte. Chloride, a prominent ion in low-grade water, can be selectively oxidized to chlorine gas, impacting both the activity and stability of the catalyst.


Partner: Imperial College (UK)



Improving resource efficiency and reducing carbon emissions through low-temperature, low-pressure ammonia synthesis - Resource efficiency for materials and manufacturing (REforMM) CR&D


Funded By: InnovateUK, UK; (Resource Efficiency for Materials and Manufacturing call)

Period: 2023-2024


Reaching an estimated global production of 176 megatonnes/year (2022). Approximately 80% of ammonia is used for fertilizer production, playing a critical role in increasing agricultural output and supporting the growing global population. Indeed, it is estimated that ammonia in fertilizer now supports approximately half of the global population.

Ammonia synthesis currently relies on the 110-year-old Haber-Bosch process, which reacts nitrogen and hydrogen over fused-iron catalysts under high-temperature (˃400 Deg C), high-pressure (˃200 bar) conditions.

Innovate UK funding through Resource Efficiency for Materials and Manufacturing call brings together a world-class consortium spanning industry and academia to improve resource efficiency and reduce carbon emissions through developing low-temperature, low-pressure ammonia synthesis process.


Research Partners: We are Nium (UK); School of Chemistry, Cardiff University (UK)



Novel solid lubricant coatings for space applications in air and in vacuum


Funded by: The UK Space Agency Enabling Technologies Programme (ETP) Call 3

Period: 2023-2024



Lubricants for critical mechanical systems in spacecraft applications face extreme environmental challenges. It is well known that, when deployed in a normal, terrestrial atmosphere, mostly used space solid lubricant MoS2 is degraded by moisture and oxygen, leading to premature failure. In this project, we will develop bimetallic doped, thin-film MoS2 coatings, in contrast to the single-element doped MoS2 mostly reported so far, producing a dense, durable, low wear-rate and low friction solid lubricant coating, with high, sustainable performance both terrestrially and in space, and investigate the influence of space radiation by ion implantation experiments.


Partner: Micro Materials Ltd,  UK


Coated bipolar plates for aviation fuel cells (CB4AFC)


Funded By: InnovateUK, UK

Period: 2022-2023


High-performance coatings with improved corrosion resistance and conductivity will be developed, using Teer Coatings closed-field unbalanced magnetron. sputtering technology, for lightweight, aluminum and titanium bipolar plates used in proton exchange membrane fuel cell stacks, specifically designed for the aviation industry. Fuel cell test methods will be developed for the evaluation of coated bipolar plates at intermediate operating temperatures, as well as methods to analyse coating defects. The project will benefit from the guidance of GKN Aerospace, a Tier 1 supplier to the aerospace industry.


Partners: University of Birmingham, UK






Design, implementation and production upscaling of novel, high-performance, cluster-based catalysts for CO2 hydrogenation’ — ‘CATCHY


Funded By: Research Executive Agency (REA), EU : Call: H2020-MSCA-ITN-2020



The European Training Network CATCHY provides a concerted effort to design novel high-performance thermo- and electrocatalysts for the conversion of CO2 into added-value synthetic fuels, while delivering a unique range of training opportunities providing young researchers with the expertise and skills required by employers in nanotechnology. Catalysis research is dedicated to the understanding and optimization of existing catalysts and the tailor-made design of new materials with a focus on high-activity, high-selectivity, and economic feasibility. CATCHY will tailor new high performance CO2 conversion catalysts by a new multidisciplinary catalysis-by-design approach combining I. production of bimetallic gas phase clusters of controlled homogeneity mixing transition, noble, and post-transition metals, and deposition on various supports; ii. extensive characterization of their morphology (ex situ and in situ); iii. fundamental experimental and theoretical reactivity studies; and iv. (electro)catalytic laboratory tests. A prototype of the most promising electrocatalyst will be tested under realistic operative conditions.

CATCHY offers an interactive training approach combining new capabilities for the fabrication and characterization of cluster-based nanostructured surfaces to produce innovative applications. A complementary academic and industrial environment ensures an intersectoral training program. Industry oriented training will be provided by focusing on selected catalysis applications directly related to energy and climate change issues of paramount importance to the EU and the world. The balanced program combines local expert training by academia and industrial partners, a network-wide secondment scheme, and network-wide training. The societal and environmental urgency to mitigate adverse climate change effects in the coming decades, and the particular advanced catalyst design approach, will guarantee the employability of CATCHY’s young researchers.





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