James Stewart Walker

Centre for Doctoral Training Doctoral Researcher



School of Chemical Engineering
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT
United Kingdom



Lead Supervisor

Professor Paula Mendes

Research Summary

James started his PhD within the Centre for Doctoral Training in Fuel Cells and their Fuels at the University of Birmingham in October 2014. Prior to this he completed a Master of Chemistry degree in ‘Pure and Applied Chemistry’ at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow.

Under the supervision of Professor Paula Mendes, James’s research project concerns the development of novel bi- and tri-metallic nanoalloys for use in polymer electrolyte fuel cell (PEFC) electrocatalysis. 

He is funded through the EPSRC CDT  in Fuel Cells and their fuels: EP/L015749/1.


MChem in Pure and Applied Chemistry, University of Strathclyde (2014)


Born and schooled in Montrose in the north east of Scotland, James went on to move down to Glasgow to pursue a Masters in Chemistry at the University of Strathclyde. In the course of his undergraduate studies, he took part in an Erasmus study abroad placement at the Université Pierre et Marie Curie in Paris, France where he furthered his education in chemistry and followed additional French classes. Thereafter, he completed a year-long internship with Merck KGaA in Darmstadt, Germany. While in Germany he assisted with electrolyte development for application in dye sensitised solar cells and established an interest in sustainable energy generation. This interest encouraged him to apply to the fuel cells doctoral training programme.

James recently took part in a European exchange programme called Pioneers into Practice. The programme saw him complete work placements with Birmingham City Council, where he conducted a review of best practice in waste management, and with Infraserv Höchst in Frankfurt, Germany, where he calculated the carbon footprint of a sewage sludge incineration procedure. Both placements involved assessing the environmental sustainability of the organisations’ current practices, and making recommendations for possible improvements. Through his participation in the programme, James has developed a broad interest in industrial resource efficiency and the circular economy. 


The focus of James’s research project, which is supervised by Professor Paula Mendes, is the development of novel electrocatalysts for PEFCs. The aim is to produce an electrocatalyst which can demonstrate equivalent or improved performance compared to existing platinum/carbon commercial catalysts, with increased durability, at a reduced cost. To this end, James is exploring the use of core@shell nanoalloys with transition metal selenide cores and platinum shells. Throughout his project, he will prepare these alloys and characterise their structures and electrocatalytic activity.

His main areas of interest are nanomaterial engineering, heterogeneous catalysis and electrochemistry.

Other activities

James is interested in public engagement in science and, in particular, energy issues and regularly takes part in outreach activities as a STEM Ambassador. In 2016, he was selected to take part in Scotland’s Climate 2050 Group’s inaugural ‘Young Leader’s Development Programme’ and will take part in a number of activities throughout the year which seek to train a group of ambassadors equipped with the knowledge and skills to engage their communities with climate change-related issues.  Additionally, in his spare time he enjoys cooking, travelling and learning foreign languages.