Current research funding in the Centre for Sustainable Engineering

Centre for Sustainable Engineering

Funded Research Projects

The following are current funded research projects taking place within the research centre:

FENCES: FErroelectric NanoComposites for Enhanced Solar energy efficiency
FENCES: FErroelectric NanoComposites for Enhanced Solar energy efficiency

Principal Investigator: Joe BRISCOE
Funding source: EU Commission - Horizon 2020
Start: 01-06-2021  /  End: 31-05-2026
Amount: £1,599,992

FENCES will develop a new approach to solar energy conversion by incorporating nanostructured ferroelectric materials into solar energy devices for both solar-to-electric (photovoltaic) and solar-to-fuel (photocatalysis) conversion. By coupling the bulk photovoltaic effect in the ferroelectric with high efficiency solar absorbs materials, FENCES aims to demonstrate a new route to solar energy conversion with the potential to exceed established efficiency limits.

Utilisation of Synthetic Fuels for \"Difficult-to-Decarbonise\" Propulsion (EP/X019551/1)

Principal Investigator: Xi JIANG
Co-investigator(s): Nader KARIMI and Edo BOEK
Funding source: EPSRC
Start: 01-02-2023  /  End: 31-01-2026

This project is intended to obtain a thorough understanding on liquid synthetic fuel utilisation. The study will follow a combined modelling / simulation - experimentation approach, predicting the physicochemical properties including emission characteristics of the alternative fuels.

Sustainable Electrodes for Advanced Flow Batteries
Sustainable Electrodes for Advanced Flow Batteries

Principal Investigator: Ana JORGE SOBRIDO
Funding source: MRC Medical Research Council
Start: 01-02-2021  /  End: 31-01-2026
Amount: £1,163,370

The research programme proposed in this Fellowship application details a plan to develop alternative electrodes for RFBs using sustainable resources. RFBs often employ carbon felts as electrodes, prepared from non-sustainable polyacrylonitrile (PAN), and their activity towards the redox reactions is poor, leading to low efficiency systems. I propose to use electrospinning, a very versatile processing technique that allows for fine control of the features of the materials prepared, to produce a new generation of freestanding electrodes with unique tailored properties that will increase the power density and voltage efficiency of RFBs.

Energy filtering for high Seebeck voltages in ordered nanocomposites

Principal Investigator: Oliver FENWICK
Funding source: Defence Science and Technology Lab.-GOV UK
Start: 01-10-2022  /  End: 30-09-2025
Amount: £99,985

Paragraf support fund 2

Principal Investigator: Colin HUMPHREYS
Funding source: Paragraf Paragraf Limited
Start: 01-08-2021  /  End: 31-07-2025
Amount: £33,540

Example of tyres that are not easily recycled currently
Circular economy elastomer products

Principal Investigator: James BUSFIELD
Funding source: EPSRC Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
Start: 01-02-2022  /  End: 31-01-2025
Amount: £395,434

The sustainability of elastomer industry is under huge scrutiny as many polymers are derived from fossil fuels and a large amount of rubber waste generated annually is not recycled. This research programme will develop novel circular economy elastomer products from renewable biobased feedstocks, with zero waste and high resource efficiency.

Zero-emission vehicles. Credit: EduardHarkonen/
CELLCOMP: Data-driven Mechanistic Modelling of Scalable Cellular Composites for Crash Energy Absorption

Principal Investigator: Wei TAN
Funding source: EPSRC Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
Start: 01-01-2022  /  End: 31-12-2024
Amount: £392,388

The project funded by EPSRC will create an intelligent data-driven virtual testing tool to assess an emerging type of lightweight materials, known as synthetic cellular composites (CCs).

ESTEEM - Sustainable manufacturing for future composites
ESTEEM - Sustainable manufacturing for future composites

Principal Investigator: Han ZHANG
Funding source: EPSRC
Start: 01-10-2021  /  End: 30-09-2024
Amount: £395,947

With only 1% of energy consumption compared to current manufacturing methods, high performance composites with integrated new functions like deformation and damage sensing as well as de-icing will be manufactured without needs of even an oven. This new method will be tuned to fully comply with the processing requirements of existing high performance composite systems, reducing costs in capital investment, operational, and maintenance aspects. The new functions will also provide real-time health monitoring of components' structural integrity to enable condition based maintenance with high reliability.

MAXIM-Mitigating the Ecotoxicological Impact of Perovskite Solar Cells

Principal Investigator: Zhe LI
Funding source: AXA
Start: 01-06-2022  /  End: 31-05-2024
Amount: £100,000

This project aims to develop low Pb leaching rate perovskite materials for use in high performance and eco-friendly perovskite solar cells, building upon knowledge framework on the relationships between perovskite semiconductors’ materials structure and their ecotoxicity.

QMUL-HUST Partnership: Wide-Bandgap, Thermally-Evaporated Perovskite Solar Cells
QMUL-HUST Partnership: Wide-Bandgap, Thermally-Evaporated Perovskite Solar Cells

Principal Investigator: Zhe LI
Funding source:
Start: 01-04-2022  /  End: 01-04-2024
Amount: £5,000

The project aims to systematically investigate wide band gap (1.7 eV) perovskite solar cells prepared via the thermal evaporation method from the perspectives of defect formation mechanism and crystallisation kinetics. We will target wide bandgap CsPbI3 single-junction perovskite solar cells with a PCE of over 20%, which will pave the way for development of high performance and large area perovskite-silicon tandem solar cells.

Feasibility of biomass-waste derived porous electrodes in advanced redox flow batteries - (The Royal Society International Exchanges, in collaboration with MIT)

Principal Investigator: Ana JORGE SOBRIDO
Funding source: Royal Society
Start: 31-03-2022  /  End: 30-03-2024
Amount: £12,000

Escalating greenhouse gas emissions and associated climate volatility represents an existential threat to humanity. Deep and rapid decarbonization of the global energy systems requires the wholesale replacement of fossil fuels with renewable resources (e.g., wind, solar). However, these resources are intermittent and unpredictable challenging the existing grid infrastructure which is based on the just-in-time dispatchable generation enabled by combustion of fossil fuels. As such, flexible energy management systems, including electrochemical energy storage technologies, are urgently required to enable reliable electricity delivery from the variable assets. Among them, redox flow batteries (RFBs) are excellent candidates for large-scale, long duration energy storage due to their flexible design, long service life, high reliability, and environmental friendliness. Nevertheless, this technology is still in its infancy in terms of optimisation of materials and battery design that can lead to improvement in performance and cost. This proposal seeks to improve upon one of their performance-determining components: the electrodes. We will use electrospinning to synthesise sustainable new materials, replacing current fossil-fuel-derived carbon electrodes with electrodes generated from biomass-waste. Electrospinning is a versatile technique that allows the production of freestanding fibrous materials. An additional part of the project will focus on the analysis of viability and economic aspects of using biomass-waste to produce RFB electrodes, while also enabling a finer control of their property sets, through a combination of modelling and experiment, to enhance technical performance and durability.

Environmental impacts of lead leakage from perovskite photovoltaic integrated greenhouse

Principal Investigator: Zhe LI
Funding source: Royal Society
Start: 14-03-2022  /  End: 13-03-2024
Amount: £11,900

This project aims to build international collaboration networks to develop perovskite photovoltaic technologies for agrivoltaics applications, focusing - focusing on understanding the potential environmental impact of perovskite solar cells in agricultural production, food safety and agricultural plants.

Resolving the biomass pyrolysis kinetics via combined synchrotron-based measurements and modelling analysis School of Engineering and Materials Science, QMUL Department of Mechanical Engineering, MIT

Principal Investigator: Roberto VOLPE
Funding source: Royal Society
Start: 11-03-2022  /  End: 10-03-2024
Amount: £12,000

This project aims at bridging the gap between cutting-edge modelling and synchrotron-based experiments to resolve the complex kinetics of biomass pyrolysis and contribute to the development of environmental technologies based on naturally-functionalised, porous, carbonaceous materials produced via pyrolysis of biomass.

ECOTOOL - energy efficient composite tooling
Energy efficient composite tooling - ECOTOOL

Principal Investigator: Han ZHANG
Funding source: EPSRC Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
Start: 13-10-2022  /  End: 31-12-2023
Amount: £83,285

The ECOTOOL project will contribute to achieving the Net Zero with a significantly enhanced energy efficiency during composite manufacturing, with reduced cycle and lead time from traditional tooling.

1D perovskite structure
Royal Society University Research Fellowship Renewal : Oliver Fenwick

Principal Investigator: Oliver FENWICK
Funding source: Royal Society
Start: 19-10-2020  /  End: 18-10-2023
Amount: £389,434

This project will develop crystalline materials comprising well-defined nano-objects arranged on a regular lattice. These nano-objects will be either two-dimensional (ultrathin layers within the material), one-dimensional (linear structures within the material), or zero-dimensional (quantum dots within the material), with unusual electronic properties in all cases. These bulk materials, which are straightforward to process, will retain low-dimensional characteristics. These unusual characteristics will be used to boost the efficiency of energy devices. In particular, this project will investigate their use for thermoelectrics (conversion of waste heat into electricity), and photovoltaics, delivering in both cases new materials for improved energy devices.

Lead-free ferroelectrics for piezoelectric sensors or high power energy storage: Professor Jiagang Wu
Lead-free ferroelectrics for piezoelectric sensors or high power energy storage: Professor Jiagang Wu

Principal Investigator: Haixue YAN
Funding source: Royal Society
Start: 31-03-2020  /  End: 30-09-2023
Amount: £74,000

At present, Pb-based ceramics are dominant ferroelectric materials. However, toxic Pb is harmful to human beings and the environment. It is urgent to research Pb-free ferroelectrics to match the need of different applications. In this project, we will research high-performance lead-free ferroelectrics for piezoelectric application and dielectric energy storage.

Graphene-Organic Devices for Smart Displays

Principal Investigator: Oliver FENWICK
Co-investigator(s): William Gillin
Funding source: Innovate UK
Start: 01-04-2021  /  End: 30-09-2023
Amount: £238,656

This project will develop graphene-based organic light-emitting diodes. It is a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) between Paragraf Ltd. and QMUL. The KTP scheme helps businesses in the UK to innovate and grow by linking them with an academic or research organisation and a graduate researcher.

Bottom up structuring of liquids without external fields or molds.
Manufacturing of anisotropic nano and micro- particles.
Molecular Manufacturing of Macroscopic Objects - fellowship Stoyan Smoukov

Principal Investigator: Stoyan SMOUKOV
Funding source: EPSRC Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
Start: 01-09-2018  /  End: 31-08-2023
Amount: £1,180,624

This interdisciplinary proposal proposes a molecular basis for Manufacturing for the Future,[a1] to grow many types of particles in a nature-inspired way. It offers scalability, near-full utilization of the material, and the ability to carry out transformations at near ambient conditions. Manufacturing in nature spans the scales from intricate ...

Terahertz Reading of Ferroelectric Domain Wall Dielectric
Rb-based energy materials

Principal Investigator: Haixue YAN
Funding source: CSA - China Central South University
Start: 11-07-2019  /  End: 15-07-2023
Amount: £11,500

The aim of this project is to research effect of Rb substitution on structures and properties of ferroelectrics for high power energy storage and memory applications.

Rb-based ferroelectric ceramics having high Curie point
Rb based ferroelectrics

Principal Investigator: Haixue YAN
Funding source: CSA - China Central South University
Start: 16-07-2018  /  End: 15-07-2023
Amount: £17,000

Ferroelectrics are materials characterized by a Curie point and polarization switching. The Curie point sets the upper limit on the application of ferroelectric ceramics for piezoelectric applications. The aim of this project is develop Rb-based ferroelectric ceramics for high temperature piezoelectric applications.

Advanced Manufacturing of 3D Porous Electrodes for Redox Flow Batteries

Principal Investigator: Ana JORGE SOBRIDO
Co-investigator(s): Patrick CULLEN
Funding source: Faraday Institution, The
Start: 01-06-2022  /  End: 31-05-2023
Amount: £141,272

Redox flow batteries are potentially transformative energy storage technologies enabling increased renewable electricity to be incorporated onto the grid, off-grid capability for local communities and back-up power for utilities. Current wide-spread adoption is hindered by engineering issues of the large-scale battery stacks, low power densities due to non-optimised electrodes, and the high-cost of vanadium (the most commercially available chemistry). This focused sprint project will seek to address these key issues by using easily scalable technologies that allow for flexibility in design and manufacture of RFB electrodes in a cost effective manner. This project will combine two highly flexible manufacturing methods, 3D printing and electrospinning, to develop an innovative concept of 3D electrode that will enable optimised mass transport and electrochemical properties of the electrode, validated in an all-vanadium RFB.

3D-photoelectrochemical imaging will be implemented using porous light-addressable semiconductors on FTO coated glass.
3D Photoelectrochemical Imaging in Porous Light-Addressable Structures

Principal Investigator: Steffi KRAUSE
Co-investigator(s): Joe BRISCOE, Thomas ISKRATSCH and Bo ZHOU
Funding source: EPSRC Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
Start: 04-01-2021  /  End: 30-04-2023
Amount: £202,248

The project aims to develop a photoelectrochemical imaging system for mapping of electrochemical processes in three dimensions within porous electrode structures. The new technology will aid the development of novel electrode materials for energy harvesting devices and be suitable for in-situ 3D functional imaging in 3D tissue culture.

Graphene layer (Getty Image)
Graphene Flagship Core Project 3

Principal Investigator: James BUSFIELD
Co-investigator(s): Nick DUGGAN, Yang HAO, , Dimitrios PAPAGEORGIOU, Wei TAN, Colin CRICK, Han ZHANG, Himadri GUPTA and Nicola PUGNO
Funding source: EU Commission - Horizon 2020
Start: 01-04-2020  /  End: 31-03-2023
Amount: £376,501

This grant will cofund the establishing of a mini-CDT with 5 PhD studentships in Graphene materials at QMUL.

BFTT campaign
Creative Clusters Fashion in Smart Textile

Principal Investigator: James BUSFIELD
Co-investigator(s): and Haixue YAN
Funding source: AHRC Arts and Humanities Research Council
Start: 31-10-2018  /  End: 31-03-2023
Amount: £345,900

The Business of Fashion, Textiles and Technology (BFTT) is a five-year industry-led project, which focusses on delivering sustainable innovation within the entire fashion and textile supply chain. The aim is to foster a new, creative business culture in which fashion, textiles and technology businesses can use R&D as a mechanism for growth.