Renewable energy and Energy storage

  • Investigating hydrogen distribution and flow inside hydrogen storage tanks and characterising hydrogen storage media.

  • Compositional and micro-structural characterisation of rechargeable batteries, their materials and their degradation mechanisms.

  • Investigating new battery materials and components inside functioning battery cells (e.g. electrodes, electrolytes, membranes and thin films).

  • Non-destructive stress-mapping of wind turbine components, visualising internal defects in wind turbine blades and evaluating blade coatings.

  • Characterising organic, inorganic and hybrid photovoltaic materials (e.g. cell crystal structure, ionic migration, metallic impurities etc…).

  • Investigating microstructural changes in photovoltaic materials with ageing and during radiation exposure.

  • Visualising electrolyte filling strategies for the improvement of industrial processes.

  • Tracking lithium ion exchange in working lithium ion batteries during charge/discharge cycles.

  • Imaging water flow in running hydrogen and electrolysis cells.

  • Studying conditions within working fuel cell membranes (e.g. hydration, oxidation/reduction and ageing processes).

  • Characterising the crystal structure of powders and mixed phases.

  • Evaluating the structure of new magnetic materials for use in electrical generators.

  • Radiation hardness testing of materials and components, including those used in space applications.


Hydrogen fuel cells

Hydrogen fuel cells work by converting hydrogen and oxygen into water using catalytic electrodes separated by a polymer-membrane electrolyte. Researchers used small angle neutron scattering to investigate variations in water content within the polymer membrane. They discovered that water content in the membrane does not directly correlate with water content in the surrounding channels. This information can be used to design fuel cells with better water management.


Lithium-ion batteries

Researchers used high-speed X-ray imaging to study short-circuits in commercial lithium-ion batteries. By analysing the high-speed images, they were able to study the formation of gas pockets and venting, and they could identify consistent failure mechanisms. These new insights can be used to improve battery safety.


Electrical circuits

Integrated electrical circuits can sometimes delaminate during manufacture. Researchers used neutron and X-ray reflectometry to characterise the thickness, roughness and density of delaminated and non-delaminated wafers. They identified hydrogen accumulation as being responsible for the lack of adhesion between layers. This knowledge can be used to control (and eliminate) delamination during the manufacturing process.