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Postgraduate research project

Lightweight gas storage: real-world strategies for the hydrogen economy

Competition funded View fees and funding
Type of degree
Doctor of Philosophy
Entry requirements
2:1 honours degree View full entry requirements
Faculty graduate school
Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences
Closing date

About the project

Polymer matrix composites are a core light-weighting technology across virtually all transport sectors (aerospace, automotive, marine), providing a vital element of net-zero carbon objectives. Many forms and scales of hydrogen storage will be required for a complete hydrogen economy, with highly pressured gas cylinders (in the range on 500-700bar) inevitably being required for decarbonising transport.

As part of a 10+ year track record of successful projects, the University of Southampton and Luxfer Gas Cylinders are offering a PhD post to develop innovative designs and design strategies for extremely lightweight ‘Type 4’ cylinders (cylinders using only polymer and polymer composite construction).

This project takes a fundamentally structural perspective, examining the mechanical performance of the walls and liner materials of Type 4 cylinders, and corresponding implications for gas permeability. There will be a balance of experimental and modelling aspects, with a view to improve and validate finite element (FE) modelling of Type 4 cylinders. The models will therefore be able to inform optimisation of current designs (reducing mass for a given level of gas containment) and inform more radical design concepts for the future.

Working as part of a well-established group of PhDs and doctoral researchers, this PhD project will focus on analysis of cylinder failure processes (leak and burst under static and cyclic conditions) via X-ray computed tomography (XCT), building on many years’ experience within the nationally and internationally recognised Southampton µ-VIS lab.

The project will involve sophisticated experimental work (e.g. X-ray imaging and mechanical testing) using newly-installed state-of-the-art facilities.

Subject to external travel regulations, the project will involve site visits to Luxfer in the UK and North America.