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Research Assistant/Associate in Electrode Modelling, Optimisation and Manufacturing

Requisition ID:  25000

Newcastle, GB

Contract Type:  Fixed Term
Working Pattern:  Full Time
Posted Date:  23-Jan-2023


We are a world class research-intensive university. We deliver teaching and learning of the highest quality. We play a leading role in economic, social and cultural development of the North East of England. Attracting and retaining high-calibre people is fundamental to our continued success.


What’s in it for you? Newcastle University is a great place to work, with excellent benefits. We have a generous holiday package; plus the opportunity to buy more, great pension schemes and a number of health and wellbeing initiatives to support you.


Newcastle is an inclusive global University community where everyone is treated with dignity and respect.  As a University of Sanctuary, we aim to provide a welcoming place of safety for all, offering opportunities to people fleeing violence and persecution.


Newcastle University is committed to being a fully inclusive Global University which actively recruits, supports and retains colleagues from all sectors of society.  We value diversity as well as celebrate, support and thrive on the contributions of all our employees and the communities they represent.  We are proud to be an equal opportunities employer and encourage applications from everybody, regardless of race, sex, ethnicity, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, age, disability, gender identity, marital status/civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, as well as being open to flexible working practices.



Research Assistant: £29,619 to £31,411 per annum

Research Associate: £32,348 to £33,314 per annum 


Closing Date: 21 February 2023


The Role


Do you have a prior research background in machine learning, optimisation or modelling transport processes in fuel cells, electrolysers or batteries?


We are seeking to appoint an enthusiastic PDRA with experience in computational fluid dynamics, porous material modelling, machine learning algorithms and 3D printing. The project will involve the design and manufacture of novel 3D printed electrodes for electrochemical devices and is funded by the Connected Everything network, which aims to advance digital manufacturing tools. The candidate will be joining the electrochemical engineering group at Newcastle University and working closely with the PI to develop new models and algorithms for optimising fluid flow and transport in porous electrodes for fuel cells, electrolysers or batteries. The digital geometry designed will be manufactured working closely with 3D printing partner Photocentric.


The digital tools developed will be integrated into software (‘Porous Microstructure Generator’) to enable knowledge transfer between industry. Opportunities to present work at conferences and host workshop on the project is encouraged. 


This exciting project will provide the foundations for follow up research collaborations between the candidate and the PI. Please see project link below for more information.


As a Research Assistant/Associate, you will be a central member of the team, focusing on research, simulation, electrode design & manufacturing and integration of coded tools into the Porous Microstructure Generator tool. 


Your main objective will be to develop a machine learning framework which can optimise a porous structure given constraints in the application of electrochemical devices.


The successful candidate will have extensive experience of academic research and collaborative projects. You will demonstrate your knowledge of the critical aspects of the interaction of porous electrodes with the performance of electrochemical devices.


You will be based at Newcastle University and due to the nature of the work, remote working will be possible if required. Visits to conferences and Photocentric may be required to present findings on research.


You should hold a PhD (or nearing completion) in mathematics, computer science, physical chemistry, chemical engineering, electrical engineering, or closely related disciplines. Additionally, evidence of continued professional development and industry experience is highly desirable. 


For more information about the School of Engineering, and our research, please click here.


We are committed to building and maintaining a fair and inclusive working environment and we would be happy to discuss arrangements for flexible and/or blended working.


The appointment is fixed-term, tenable for 5.25 months in the first instance until September 2023. The position is available on a full-time basis (37 hours per week). 


To apply, please complete an online application and upload a CV and cover letter. Your cover letter is a supporting statement, and you should outline how you meet the essential criteria of the role and evidence this with examples.


For informal queries regarding the role or the project, please contact Daniel Niblett, Research Associate in Mathematical Modelling, at:


Key Accountabilities 

  • Produce physics-based models for electrochemical flow and transport in the porous structures of fuel cells, electrolysers, or batteries
  • Developing algorithms to automatically update digital porous electrode geometry as the boundaries in the models
  • Build a generalised genetic algorithm (GA) to optimise solid structure arrangement in porous electrodes for species diffusion and flow (Matlab/Python)
  • Couple the GA to either OpenFOAM (CFD) or pore network modelling (PNM)
  • Integrate findings into ‘Porous Microstructure Generator’ software
  • Work closely with Photocentric ltd to investigate 3D printing (LCD/DLP) of designed electrodes
  • Work with experimentalists to carbonise printed electrode in high temperature furnace
  • Work with the PI on different tasks in the research project to generate project deliverables in a timely manner and meet the project objectives
  • Contribute to grant applications submitted by others and in time develop own research objectives and proposals for funding 
  • Produce publications, presentations, and regular reports on progress 
  • Interacting with academic members and industrial members of the project partners, providing suitable paper, electronic and oral reporting


The Person 


Knowledge, Skills and Experience 

  • Experience in machine learning and optimisation
  • Experience of research with transferable skills in the field of electrochemical mathematical modelling 
  • Experience in using appropriate software to carry out the mathematical modelling (MATLAB/Python) 
  • Experience in computational fluid dynamics (OpenFOAM etc.)
  • Experience in 3D porous material modelling and or pore network modelling 
  • Knowledge of code and software development in MATLAB
  • Ability to communicate complex information (verbally and written) with clarity and to encourage the commitment of others 
  • Ability to design and prepare professional reports and present findings to industrial and academic project partners at conferences and project meetings and write high quality scientific publications


  • Experience in modelling related to fuel cells, electrolysers, or batteries
  • Experience in 3D printing and high temperature furnace carbonisation
  • Knowledge of the uses of the ‘Porous Microstructure Generator’


Attributes and Behaviour

  • Strong interpersonal and team-working skills
  • High level of analytical and problem-solving capacity
  • Evidence of networking skills and development of strong links with industry and project partners
  • Demonstrable experience of working in a multidisciplinary team environment and actively supporting the development of a collaborative research culture
  • Communicates complex information clearly and adapts communication styles to suit the audience
  • Able to manage own time effectively using enthusiasm and initiative to drive projects to success
  • Professional approach with a commitment to equality, diversity, dignity, and respect in the workplace



  • PhD awarded (or nearing completion) in mathematics, computer science, physical chemistry, chemical engineering, electrical engineering, or closely related disciplines
  • Masters awarded in above disciplines may be considered if the experience closely aligns with the project description



The University holds a silver Athena SWAN award in recognition of our good employment practices for the advancement of gender equality. The University is also a member of the Euraxess initiative supporting researchers in Europe.


Requisition ID: 25000