PhD student supervises his first industrial-scale metal production at LCM for hydrogen storage

PhD student supervises his first industrial-scale metal production at LCM for hydrogen storage

PhD student, Alex McGrath, said he had a ‘fantastic’ experience at LCM when he was invited into the factory to put his PhD research into practice and to oversee the production of a composition that he is researching at Nottingham University for hydrogen storage.

Alex, aged 23, graduated from Lancaster University with an integrated Master of Engineering in 2020. Shortly after graduating, Alex started his PhD, Doctor of Philosophy in Advanced Materials, and is focussing on sustainable hydrogen. However, this route wasn’t something that Alex had planned.

He said: “I didn’t think a PhD was an option for me, but I realised it was the best option of all, and thanks to LCM for part-funding it.”

The choice to study Sustainable Hydrogen at the CDT (Centre for Doctoral Training) was heavily influenced by a very important worldwide topic: climate change.

Alex added: “With the current climate and the shift to green technologies like hydrogen storage, I think it is a good move and a great industry to get involved with.

“The work I am doing will be valuable and give me the best chance in my career prospects.”

Upon completing his PhD in 2024 Alex plans to work as an industrial manufacturer and put his research to the test on a larger scale. For now, Alex would like to experience firsthand the production of alloys and that is where LCM comes in.

Alex explains: “In the future, I would like to create a new composition and make material with LCM. Today we have used a composition that is well-known in the marketplace, and my research back at the university will be on how I can improve this alloy by changing the elements used and looking at the production processes to see if there are any adjustments we can make to improve the product.

“We have tested this material at a smaller scale in the laboratory back on campus, but this is the first time I have been in this kind of environment and been able to see it at an industrial level, it’s pretty cool.”

On the last day at LCM Alex worked with the laboratory team to analyse the material and he will test the hydrogen storage capabilities when he returns to Nottingham University.

When asked what the highlights of his visit were Alex said:

“It made me appreciate the challenges LCM faces in the industry. I wouldn’t have thought of these challenges if I didn’t have the opportunity to come onsite and see them firsthand. When I am carrying out my research at university it is very different to see what can actually be done at an industrial scale.

“My favourite part was being able to oversee the production of the alloy on the furnace as this is completely new to me.”

The team at LCM looks forward to working with Alex further and supporting his PhD research in sustainable hydrogen.