Doctoral Training Partnerships: a range of postgraduate training is funded by the Research Councils. For information on current funding routes, see the common terminology at https://www.ukri.org/apply-for-funding/how-we-fund-studentships/. Training grants may be to one organisation or to a consortia of research organisations. This portal will show the lead organisation only.
PV materials that can be processed from solution at low temperature offer a route to low cost and low emebedded energy PV modules with potential for integration into buildings and other infrastructure to generate clean electricity on a large scale. Organic PV (OPV) has attracted intense research interest; impressive improvements in efficiency and in fabrication knowhow have been demonstrated. Lead halide perovskites solar cells (PSC) are based on a newly rediscovered active layer material and have shown radical improvements in start-of-life efficiency with recent optimisation of device structure and processing. However both technology types are challenged by losses in power conversion efficiency under operation, even though they are believed capable of stabilised efficiency of 15-20%. The limited operational stability of such devices inhibits their widespread commercial application. To overcome this there is a need to understand the sources of efficiency loss, both at start-of-life and during ageing in typical operating environments. Until now, most studies of novel PV device stability have amounted to empirical studies of the evolution of performance parameters for different materials or device structures in different environments, and scientific attention has focussed largely on the oxidative stability of the photoactive layer. Relatively little attention has been paid to the electrodes and interlayers, even though these layers are often the first to fail and additionally they are partly responsible for protecting the active layers. In addition, most performance metrics probe the macroscopic device performance and although imaging methods have been used to observe heterogeneous material properties during ageing mapping techniques have not yet been used to provide detailed insight into the chemical, electrochemical and physical mechanism of current and voltage loss. This proposal seeks to develop a set of interlinked experimental techniques to probe the basic mechanisms underpinning device degradation and failure in two leading classes of printable photovoltaic (PV) materials, organic photovoltaics (OPV) and organohalide perovskite solar cells (PSCs). Our approach is to develop and adapt two-dimensional mapping techniques that probe the local chemical and electronic state of the materials and combine them with device-scale electrical measurement, structural characterisation and modelling in order to analyse the degradation mechanisms, to identify the local conditions that lead to degradation and to design strategies to inhibit the progression of failure mechanisms. The mapping tools will be developed with the potential to be applied during module manufacture and quality control.
In the UK there are more than four billion square metres of roofs and facades forming the building envelope. Most of this could potentially be used for harvesting solar energy and yet it covers less than 1.8 % of the UK land area. The shared vision for SPECIFIC is develop affordable large area solar collectors which can replace standard roofs and generate over one third of the UK's total target renewable energy by 2020 (10.8 GW peak and 19 TWh) reducing CO2 output by 6 million tonnes per year. This will be achieved with an annual production of 20 million m2 by 2020 equating to less than 0.5% of the available roof and wall area. SPECIFIC will realise this by quickly developing practical functional coated materials on metals and glass that can be manufactured by industry in large volumes to produce, store and release energy at point of use. These products will be suitable for fitting on both new and existing buildings which is important since 50% of the UKs current CO2 emissions come from the built environment.The key focus for SPECIFIC will be to accelerate the commercialisation of IP, knowledge and expertise held between the University partners (Swansea, ICL, Bath, Glyndwr, and Bangor) and UK based industry in three key areas of electricity generation from solar energy (photovoltaics), heat generation (solar thermal) and storage/controlled release. The combination of functionality will be achieved through applying functional coatings to metal and glass surfaces. Critical to this success is the active involvement in the Centre of the steel giant Corus/Tata and the glass manufacturer Pilkington. These two materials dominate the facings of the building stock and are surfaces which can be engineered. In addition major chemical companies (BASF and Akzo Nobel as two examples) and specialist suppliers to the emerging PV industry (e.g. Dyesol) are involved in the project giving it both academic depth and industrial relevance. To maximise open innovation colleagues from industry will be based SPECIFIC some permanently and some part time. SPECIFIC Technologists will also have secondments to partner University and Industry research and development facilities.SPECIFIC will combine three thriving research groups at Swansea with an equipment armoury of some 3.9m into one shared facility. SPECIFIC has also been supported with an equipment grant of 1.2 million from the Welsh Assembly Government. This will be used to build a dedicated modular roll to roll coating facility with a variety of coating and curing functions which can be used to scale up and trial successful technology at the pre-industrial scale. This facility will be run and operated by three experienced line technicians on secondment from industry. The modular coating line compliments equipment at Glyndwr for scaling up conducting oxide deposition, at CPi for barrier film development and at Pilkington for continuous application of materials to float glass giving the grouping unrivalled capability in functional coating. SPECIFIC is a unique business opportunity bridging a technology gap, delivering affordable novel macro-scale micro-generation, making a major contribution to UK renewable energy targets and creating a new export opportunity for off grid power in the developing world. It will ultimately generate thousands high technology jobs within a green manufacturing sector, creating a sustainable international centre of excellence in functional coatings where multi-sector applications are developed for next generation manufacturing.
Definition of the performance of photovoltaics is normally reduced to the efficiency alone. However, this number contains no indication of key issues such as system component reliability, module stability or appropriate balance of system design -- all of which play a crucial role in determining the performance in terms of usability. The key indicator is the levelised cost of energy (LCOE). The main influences on this, and thus the viability of photovoltaic technologies, are not only in material science but also in the way systems behave in the long term, and the uncertainty in predicting their behaviour. The link between laboratory-based materials science and the LCOE is poorly understood, revealing gaps in scientific knowledge which will be filled by this project. The key outcome is improved understanding of the potential for deploying photovoltaics in different climatic zones. The biggest unknowns in the LCOE are: understanding of the stability and long-term performance of photovoltaic modules; how a holistic system performance can be described; and the uncertainty in life-time energy yield prediction. This is crucial, especially for newer thin film technologies, which have been shown to be more variable in degradation and often suffer inappropriate balance of system components. Close collaboration with manufacturers of thin film as well as crystalline silicon devices will ensure that these aspects are appropriately covered. Novel measurement and modelling approaches for the prediction of life-time energy yield of the modules will be developed and validated against realistic data in collected in different climatic zones. This will result in the development of accelerated test procedures. Uncertainty calculations will enable identification and minimisation of this, and thus reduce the LCOE. A holistic systems approach is taken, specifically looking at the effects of different inverters in different climates and the effects of the existing network infrastructure on energy performance. At the heart of this project is the development of models and their validation, all focused on predicting the lifetime energy yield. A measurement campaign will be undertaken using novel techniques to better monitor the long-term behaviour of modules. Detailed, spatially-resolved techniques will be developed and linked to finite element-based models. This then allows the development of improved accelerated tests to be linked to real environments. These models will be validated against modules measured in a variety of realistic deployments. Using a geographical information system, maps of environmental strains and expected degradation rates per year for the different technologies will be developed.The feedback from the grid is an often underestimated effect on photovoltaic system performance. Typically, the grid and power conditioning cause 5-10% losses in otherwise appropriately installed systems; in unfortunate cases this can rise to 60%. The underlying reasons need to be better understood, so specific models for the interaction with the grid and different control strategies will be developed with the overall aim to minimise these loss effects.This project will be crucial for both the UK and India to translate their ambitious installation plans into reality as it will deliver the tools required to plan the viability of installations via geographical information systems, underpinned by a robust science base. This will aid decisions on the use of appropriate photovoltaic technology for a given site, to include both the modules themselves and other system components, to maximise cost-effectiveness and reliability.
The PSIBS Doctoral Training Centre (DTC) will focus on the development of the physical sciences of imaging and the computational analysis of image data to address key problems in the biological and biomedical sciences.The importance of Imaging to Bioscience and Medicine has been highlighted both by the N111 and the UK research councils.There is art apparent and growing need for people with these skills within UK industries with diverse business focuses (proposal section 3). This is reflected by their involvement in this PSIBS DTC and their contributions to the training.Two key benefits of training cohorts of students rather than individually funded students are: (1) The PSIBS multi-disciplinary taught programme that will upgrade the skill- and knowledge-base of traditional UK bachelors-level single-discipline graduates to underpin and enable cross-disciplinary PhD research. (ii) The students will develop extensive and cross-disciplinary links and networks, both with other PSIBS students and the many PSIBS academics, which will persist throughout their future research careers.Imaging technology is evolving faster than the standard grant turnaround time and dynamic, responsive PhD research within a critical mass of experts will enable (a) rapid response and (b) cutting edge research against our overseas competitors (proposal section 4).