Tel: +44 (0) 121 414 7479
DTC Project - Modelling the structures and chemical properties of metallic bio-nanoparticles
Supervisors: Prof. Roy L. Johnston, Prof. Lynne E. Macaskie & Dr Bruno G. Pollet
Start Date: November 2009
Finish Date: November 2013
Paul graduated from Glamorgan University with an undergraduate degree in Forensic Science in 2008 before graduating from Cardiff University with a masters in Molecular Modelling in 2009. He then came to the University of Birmingham to start his PhD in the integrated study of hydrogen and fuel cell applications.
Paul’s PhD within the Doctoral Training Centre, which is funded by EPSRC, focuses on theoretical studies of the electrocatalyst (EC) for applications in Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cells (PEMFCs). PEMFCs show promise for a number of possible applications, most prominently as an alternative in the automotive industry to the internal combustion engine. However, problems with the EC create a substantial setback when considering widespread commercialisation.
The expensive platinum catalysts in the electrode are said to attribute 33-50% of the cost of the PEMFC. Furthermore, these catalysts are prone to poisoning and degradation, leading to a reduction in the cell performance over time. To try and tackle these problems research is focused on two areas, the reduction in cost of electrocatalysts and the improvement of catalytic properties such as reaction kinetics and durability.
Theoretical investigations are looking at: firstly, the biomineralisation of metallic salts to form catalytically active nanoparticles; secondly, developing nanoalloyed clusters with enhancements in catalytic activity. It has been demonstrated that biomineralisation of metal salts could provide a way to reduce costs by recycling the expensive Pt catalyst. Furthermore, the biogenerated catalysts can have enhanced characteristics to those produced chemically. However, as the exact biomineralisation mechanisms and which processes lead to differences in catalytic activity are still unknown research will be performed on this subject.
In order to study nanoalloys simulations are being performed on clusters of varying composition in order to study catalytic activity. This research is focused on looking at stable structures and compositions of bimetallic clusters for improved catalytic properties. In order to study catalytic activity, adsorption of small molecules onto cluster surfaces is being simulated to study adsorption energies.
Jennings, P.C.; Pollet, B.G.; Johnston, R.L. J. Phys. Chem. C 2011, In Prep.
6th International Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Conference (NEC, Birmingham) - Link
1st International Fuel Cell Seminar 2010 (University of Yamanishi, Japan)
ProSurf - Modelling Protein Interactions with Solid Surfaces and Nanoparticles (EPFL, Switzerland) - Link
7th International Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Conference (NEC, Birmingham) - Link
Theoretical Chemistry Day 17 (Birkbeck Collage, London)
Exploiting New Computer Architectures in Molecular Dynamics Simulations (SOAS, London)
The Science City Research Alliance Materials Modelling and Property Prediction Day (Think Tank, Birmingham)
Answered questions about fuel cell technology at the centres stand at Sustainability Live 2010.
Lecture to 48 school children aged 16-17 on the need and state of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies as a future energy source. - Link
Answered questions about fuel cell technology at the centres stand at Sustainability Live 2011.
Demonstrating fuel cell technology to school children for an RSC "Chemsitry At Work" event.
Fuel Cell Website Editor
2nd BEAR Post Graduate Conference 2011 Organising Committee
2nd BEAR Post Graduate Conference 2011 Session Chair