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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/R023581/1
Title: ISCF Wave 1: Materials research hub for energy conversion, capture, and storage
Principal Investigator: Monroe, Dr C W
Other Investigators:
Snaith, Professor HJ Grant, Professor P Worsley, Professor D
McMillan, Professor PF Skinner, Professor SJ Brett, Professor D
Shearing, Professor P Giustino, Professor F Bruce, Professor P
Nelson, Professor J Kucernak, Professor A Brandon, Professor NP
Durrant, Professor J Haque, Professor SA Bhagat, Dr R
Aguadero, Dr A
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
AGM Batteries Ltd BASF C-Tech Innovation Ltd
DST Innovations Ltd High Value Manufacturing (HVM) Catapult ITM Power Plc
Jaguar Land Rover Limited Johnson Matthey National Physical Laboratory NPL
NSG Group (UK) QinetiQ
Department: Materials
Organisation: University of Oxford
Scheme: Standard Research - NR1
Starts: 01 October 2017 Ends: 30 September 2021 Value (£): 1,831,453
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Energy Storage Fuel Cell Technologies
Solar Technology
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:  
Summary on Grant Application Form
Realising a secure, low-carbon energy future depends upon integrating variable generation into the energy system at a large scale, as well as efficiently harvesting renewable energy. Electrochemical and photoelectrical conversion devices are critical to this goal. The fundamental phenomenon that controls how all such devices perform is charge transport, both through and between materials. The Materials Research Hub for Energy Capture, Conversion, and Storage (M-RHECCS) sets out to advance understanding of the structure/function relations that control charge transport in energy materials, forging general principles that govern charge mobility and exchange. By so doing we will lay a foundation for the informed design of next-generation energy materials.

Prior efforts at this scale have built teams centred on isolated technologies. Our vision is more integrated, recognizing that electronic, ionic, and mixed conductors form the operational cores of solar cells, fuel cells, batteries, capacitors, and electrolysers. Impressive advances have been made to face some challenges, delivering innovative processes, analytical techniques, and computational models, but poor integration between application areas restricts progress. M-RHECCS brings together world-leading experts across materials disciplines and energy technologies to form a new network, encouraging unorthodox thinking to spark transformative science. The M-RHECCS will connect experimentalists and theorists across disciplines to advance the basic science of charge mobility. Team members will also examine challenges in translating new science into manufacture and application.

To ensure impact we propose to focus on 1) breaking the paradigm of 'power or energy' by making porous electrodes and porous or microstructured composites that produce power and energy, 2) structure/function relations that govern charge mobility in mixed ion/electron conductors (MIECs) and ultimately control the performance and stability of MIEC-based electrodes and active media and 3) elucidating transport modes in unconventional ion conducting polymers and ceramics. Porous electrodes and microstructured composites are used in almost all electrochemical devices and in new types of solar cell. We shall investigate how pore size, structure, and order influence power and energy density in electrochemical systems, how microstructure influences current generation and efficiency in solar cells, and how to optimise both. Single-phase MIECs are found in electrodes and active layers of hybrid solar cells, as well as electrodes in fuel cells, electrolysers, and Li-ion batteries. Optical, electrical, and electrochemical measurements, and self-consistent simulation, will combine to elucidate factors that control charge mobility and the critical issue of stability. Ion-conducting polymers and ceramics are core to fuel cells and electrolysers, and solid Li+ conductors could enable all-solid-state batteries, but high conductivity and suitable mechanical properties must be achieved. We aim to learn what material features control ion transport to pave the way for designing innovative conductors.

M-RHECCS will also research the translation of advances in porous electrodes, MIECs and ion-exchange materials into scaleable materials and devices. We will assess the value of better charge-transport materials to power generation via detailed analysis of operational data from actual building-integrated solar generation/storage systems . Engagement with our many industrial partners will maximise our work's impact.

The M-RHECCS will pull together not only the energy materials researchers across our five partner institutions but also network stakeholders with cognate interests across the UK, in academia, industry, government, and beyond. We will engage with international leaders in charge-transport materials, inviting them to visit the Hub and the UK more widely and take part in M-RHECCS organised networking events.
Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Organisation Website: http://www.ox.ac.uk