As part of the Centre for Doctoral Training in the Advanced Characterisation of Materials, Josh was given the opportunity to embark on a 3-month internship with a university or industrial partner during the 4-year studentship. As his project focus surrounds the area of solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) research, Josh was very lucky that Ceres Power, an Imperial college spin-out SOFC company, were willing to take him on as a Fuel Cell Development Intern at their Horsham premises.
Josh’s Ceres placement began at the end of November 2016 when he was welcomed into the team and shown the ropes. One of the strengths of taking on a post-graduate researcher whose research field centred on their core technology was an already firm background in fuel cells, SOFC operation and understanding of technology maturity. Before long, several projects emerged that took advantage of access to both UCL and Imperial characterisation equipment along with in-house set-ups available within the company’s laboratories.
On a daily basis, the development and learning pace was fast and the work was varied. After a meeting to discuss targets and updates on progress, the focus could involve ordering parts, building a rig, analysing data or running simulations. Josh was given the opportunity to present progress in various areas to senior members of the Ceres team and deliver presentations to summarise the scope of possible future routes and updates on data gathered.
Josh believes that the partnership between the CDT-ACM and Ceres Power was fruitful for the company because of the wide variety of techniques with which the CDT-ACM had made him comfortable. The wide array of state-of-the-art equipment available across the two leading research institutions provided a route to answering questions at unprecedented length scales. Moreover, Josh’s background as a researcher encouraged a healthy interest in literature surveying and idea generation.
Fortunately, the collaborative relationship built during this time endures and they keep in contact to discuss further advanced characterisation challenges and other projects of interest. Josh is very keen to continue to grow this relationship and have found the experience rewarding in several ways. It was particularly eye-opening for Josh to see the application and scale-up of a technology he knows at a very small scale, and the challenges the market and intellectual property (IP) sensitivity present in the field. Moreover, Josh gathered new technical insight and learnt new analysis tools, as well as benefitting from invaluable hands-on experience of some advanced characterisation instrumentation that he would not have otherwise gained. All in the all, the 3-month Ceres experience was a real boost for Josh’s PhD studentship and continues to play a role in shaping his research goals.