Physics-based mathematical modelling of water electrolyzer for hydrogen production

Water electrolysers are promising for hydrogen-powered grids, producing green hydrogen from renewable energy sources, and working in a pair with fuel cells or gas turbines. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that currently available electrolysers (both PEM and AEM) suffer from reliability and durability issues when run on the dynamic power supply that is typical of renewable electricity generation, as seen from accelerated material and performance degradation. In addition to the efficient operation under dynamic loading, an improved understanding of performance, cost and durability trade-offs, an understanding of degradation processes, and developing mitigation strategies to increase the operational life of electrolyser systems under dynamic operating modes using renewable electricity are essential to achieve their full potential.

These electrolysers involve multiphysics processes, such as species distributions, spatially varying current densities, and two-phase thermofluid flow, of which the direct experimental probing within operating electrolysers is extremely challenging. Thus, physics-based modelling and simulation would be important tools in the design and development of water electrolysers and complement experiments. Modelling results can provide insight and understanding of the component design and material properties on their performance. Computational modelling can also simulate the transport and electrochemical processes to aid the development of PEM and AEM water electrolysers efficiently and cost-effectively and for hydrogen-powered grid integration.

In this project, you will be developing a detailed physics-based mathematical model of a water electrolyser for hydrogen production that operates on the dynamic electric supply simulating renewable electricity generation (such as offshore wind). The model will be an electrochemical model of an electrolysis cell to simulate the performance of coupled thermofluid interactions, two-phase transport, and electrochemical processes within a representative single-cell geometry by leveraging the powerful meshing generation and commercial CFD solver (such as COMSOL Multiphysics). Additionally, you will entail model validation and verifying and explaining predicted trends seen in experimental data. The model should identify critical barriers and provide mitigation strategies to enable performance optimisation and durability mitigation for water electrolysers.


Further Information: 

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Closing Date: 

Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Principal Supervisor: 

Assistant Supervisor: 


Minimum entry qualification - an Honours degree at 2:1 or above (or International equivalent) in a relevant science or engineering discipline, possibly supported by an MSc Degree. Further information on English language requirements for EU/Overseas applicants.


Tuition fees + stipend are available for Home/EU and International students

Further information and other funding options.

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