PhDs Porous Organic Solids for High-Density Energy Storage in Redox Flow Batteries at University of Groningen

There are positions for two PhD candidates in a joint project between the groups of Prof. Ben Feringa and Prof. Edwin Otten, within the framework of the Advanced Research Center Chemical Building Blocks Consortium (ARC-CBBC). The goal of this project is to explore novel promising classes of organic active materials for batteries that feature (multiple) highly robust and electrochemically switchable redox units. Redox-active organics incorporated into porous framework materials will be investigated as solid capacity boosters in lab-scale flow batteries.

The increased share of intermittent renewable generation in the energy mix presents significant challenges for grid stability. This necessitates deployment of large-scale energy storage to balance supply/demand. Batteries are expected to play a prominent role in this, but advances in technology are required to provide affordable and safe energy storage at scale. Redox flow batteries (RFBs) are a promising technology with the capability to provide long-duration storage (8+ hours), but the currently used vanadium electrolyte chemistry is expensive and is subject to environmental and geopolitical concerns. The objective of this project is to deliver cost-effective, high energy-dense storage materials for RFBs, which have the potential to play a significant role in the energy transition.

The research will focus on innovative battery materials based on the design of novel redox active buildings blocks combined with porous solids that consist of redox-active organic linkers and non-scarce metals such as Ti, Zr, Fe, Al, Mg or Zn. It combines state-of-the-art (metal-)organic synthesis, design of functional reticular (porous) solid materials and electrochemistry research. Each of the PhD candidates will initially focus on one of the half-reactions. In a later stage, this knowledge will be combined to construct battery systems, where the PhD candidates will collaborate in the experimental work but each focusing on the performance of their individual half-reaction.

In additional to the academic supervision, the PhD candidates will receive supervision from the industrial partner to this project, Shell. The research will take place at the University of Groningen, but if required, the students may be able to use Shell equipment and will be aided by the industrial partners’ specific expertise. As such, this research provides a unique opportunity to get introduced to industrial Research & Development, while working on an academic PhD.

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