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PhD Studentship: Lubrication of Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles

nCATS Group

Location:  Highfield Campus
Closing Date:  Friday 14 December 2018
Reference:  1005218BX

Project Reference: CDT-SIS-513

Hydrogen is the cleanest fuel available as its combustion product is water. This advantage has enabled Hydrogen technology to quickly establish itself as the technology of the future not only for fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) but also for other high energy consumption applications. Recently, British Government advisers’ have said that hydrogen technology is feasible for heating homes and businesses and it could help meet the UK green targets by 2050.  

For FCVs hydrogen technology is favored because it avoids the looming problems associated with storage and recyclability of used electric cars batteries and refueling takes no longer than with a petrol car enabling a travel range of 620 km. The Japanese car manufacturers, Toyota and Honda have already successfully launched the Mirai (2014) and Clarity (2016), two FCVs attaining exhilarating performance with fuel economy and unsurpassed comfort.  

A long standing challenge of hydrogen technology is related to the atomic size of hydrogen which enables it to diffuse readily through the lattice of solid materials and cause catastrophic failure in high strength steels. Embrittlement by hydrogen has been identified as a major consequence of hydrogen uptake and represents an extra challenge for lubricated tribological parts that are normally subjected to high stresses. This study will investigate the influence of lubricant composition on preventing premature failure of bearing steel due to the ingress of hydrogen while achieving fuel economy and reduced wear of the components. The research will involve novel methods for investigating rolling contact fatigue, hydrogen embrittlement and the role of lubricants by employing a wide range of state-of-art technology.  

This is a unique opportunity not only to carry out doctoral studies and publish your research in high impact factor journals but also become one of the world’s leading specialist in lubrication of hydrogen technology. You will undertake interdisciplinary research in two of the world leading research centres, the National Centre of Advanced Tribology at University of Southampton, UK and the Hydrogenius Centre at Kyushu University, Japan under the supervision of international experts in the fields of lubrication, tribology, materials and hydrogen technology.  

Prospective candidates are required to have a first class degree (if the candidate has both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, this applies to both) in mechanical engineering, chemistry or material science and to meet the English language entry requirements qualifications (a minimum IELTS level of 6.5 - with a minimum of 6.0 in each component).  

For enquiries please contact the project supervisors: Dr Monica Ratoi and Dr Brian Mellor, nCATS, University of Southampton, UK.  

Please be aware that the academic selectors review applications as soon as they are received so please make sure to submit your application for consideration as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.  

This project is being run in participation with the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Sustainable Infrastructure Systems (View Website). For details of our 4 Year PhD programme and further projects, please see

To apply, please use the following website:

The closing date for this job opportunity has now passed, and applications are no longer being accepted for this position

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