Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) - Fuel Cells & Their Fuels

Chemical Engineering at Birmingham

The Hydrogen, Fuel Cells and their Fuels Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) is a flagship collaboration between five world-leading energy research institutions – the University of Birmingham, Imperial College London, UCL, The University of Nottingham and Loughborough University. The CDT will train a new generation of scientists and engineers to address the interdisciplinary challenges involved in the transition to a sustainable energy future. Through its 4-year PhD programme, Doctoral Researchers will receive an overview of energy issues from multidisciplinary perspectives – navigating the hydrogen and fuel cells route map to success - in addition to developing individual specialisations through research projects.


The CDT has three principal strategic objectives, which are to:

  • Expand the skills base of UK industry to meet the challenges of sustainable energy.
  • Exploit existing – and develop new – interdisciplinary training routes to support Doctoral Researchers.
  • Establish the programme’s long term value and contribution to research, industry and society.

In particular, the CDT’s Doctoral Researchers will be empowered to:

  • Plan and execute flexible, innovative research and development programmes that respond to industry and customer needs.
  • Form, work within, and where necessary lead teams with multidisciplinary backgrounds.
  • Stimulate innovation through expert knowledge in the field of hydrogen, fuel cells and their applications.
  • Develop a working knowledge of project management, marketing and business methods.
  • Master excellent written and oral communication skills.

Research Themes

Within the CDT, there are 50 academics across several disciplines, focusing on chemical engineering, but including chemistry, physics, mathematics, materials, social science and built environment. 

These specialists contribute to the 5 main research themes:

  • Polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells
  • Solid oxide fuel cells
  • Portable fuel cells
  • Hydrogen production and storage
  • Electrolysis

Within these themes, there are projects on catalysis, nanoparticles, membranes, fluids, hydrogen storage materials, and consumer responses. Where industry has wanted student projects, there has been strong focus on product areas, such as fuel cells for aircraft (EADS), clean transport of refrigerated materials (Unilever) and electrolysis for onsite generation (ITM Power).

CDT Funding and Partnerships

The CDT is part of the Midlands Energy Consortium (MEC), which promotes and invests in energy research, and is host to the Energy Technologies Institute. The CDT, on behalf of the MEC, was awarded £5.5million from RCUK to establish and run its centre for doctoral training in hydrogen, fuel cells and their applications – the first of its kind in the UK.

It has established links with International Research Centres (Germany, France, USA, Canada and Japan) and Doctoral Researchers can benefit from opportunities to collaborate overseas. 

The programme has an appointed industrial panel which aims to bridge the gap between academia and industry, addressing real-world energy issues from wider perspectives and building valuable links between research and application.

The Hydrogen, Fuel Cells and their Applications CDT also partners with the Midlands Energy Graduate School and is part of the national Network of Energy Centres for Doctoral Training.