Applications are invited for a studentship in Energy Storage & Demand Side Response. Energy storage and Demand Side Response are essential elements of large scale renewable energy integration. Global energy demands are growing and in order to ensure an environmentally sustainable future, such growth must be achieved primarily with renewable energy resources. However, the variable energy supply from the most likely renewable energy sources (wind and solar) requires temporal management and therefore energy storage and demand side response will see a huge increase in demand. Candidates should hold or expect to hold a first or upper second class honours degree in Engineering, Computer Science, Science, or a cognate area. Applications will be considered on a competitive basis with regard to the candidate’s qualifications, skills experience and interests. Successful candidates will enrol as soon as possible, on a full-time programme of research studies leading to the award of the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.

The studentship will comprise fees and an annual stipend of £14,553. It will be awarded for a period of up to three years subject to satisfactory progress and is tenable in the new Faculty of Computing, Engineering and the Built Environment at the Jordanstown Campus.

We are particularly interested in proposals within Phase Change and Alternative Materials for Thermal Energy Storage.

Duration: 3 Years

Supervisors: Professor Philip Griffiths and Dr Mingjun Huang Background: In managing demand side response for the integration of variable renewable energy, the electrification of space heating requires thermal storage. Traditional water-based systems are excellent at addressing variable temperatures for optimum heat pump performance i.e. heat supplies at the desired temperature for thermal comfort according to daily and seasonal needs. However, such thermal storage takes up considerable valuable space within the home and alternative approaches are required. Higher energy density materials such as phase change materials (PCM) and thermochemical materials have possibilities in terms of high energy density but may need high performance, high temperature heat pumps to realise their full potential.

Aim: The aim is to first assess an existing PCM unit, understanding the heat exchanger design challenges between a hydronic heating system and the PCM. Once established, best practice in heat exchanger design and materials selection for domestic heating applications will lead to a revised design, which will be modelled, built, laboratory tested and field trialled. Alternative materials such as thermochemical based combinations will also be considered with a view of overall system performance efficiency.


Scientific & Impact: Advanced yet cost effective heat exchangers for PCMs will realise new thermal storage designs. Thermochemical based designs with theoretically higher energy densities will increase compactness and allow greater flexibility in deployment. Overall greater temperature flexibility will allow greater ease of integration with heat pumps for example.

Essential criteria

  • To hold, or expect to achieve by 15 August, an Upper Second Class Honours (2:1) Degree or equivalent from a UK institution (or overseas award deemed to be equivalent via UK NARIC) in a related or cognate field.

Desirable Criteria

If the University receives a large number of applicants for the project, the following desirable criteria may be applied to shortlist applicants for interview.

  • Masters at 65%


This project is supported by the European Union's INTERREG VA Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB).

This project is funded by: the EU INTERREG VA Programme

Other information

The Doctoral College at Ulster University