• United Kingdom

Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

Nano-engineering of materials for energy conversion and storage applications
http://bit.ly/3KDsXzJ

Membranes for carbon dioxide conversion for environmental and space exploration applications
http://bit.ly/3IQ26iw

Catalyst regeneration technologies for biomass conversion into valuable chemicals: experimental and modelling investigation
https://tinyurl.com/29ft6d95

Personal profile

Personal Statement

I joined the University of Strathclyde in 2020, as a Chancellor's Fellow in Renewable Energy in the Department of Chemical and Process Engineering. I completed my MEng in Materials and Process Engineering at the University Politehnica of Bucharest in 2008, and later earned a PhD in Energy Materials from the University of St Andrews, Scotland, in 2013. Following this, I worked in several post-doctoral research roles at the University of St Andrews and Newcastle University.

My career has been dedicated to contributing innovative and ground-breaking concepts in the fields of advanced materials and renewable energy conversion applications, as evidenced by my 40+ peer-reviewed publications, including five in the prestigious Nature-family journals and two in Energy and Environmental Science.

Now leading a dynamic research team of four, our focus is on the development of materials and devices for renewable energy conversion. This includes materials development, characterisation, and testing with applications in green hydrogen production, clean power generation, carbon capture, and conversion to sustainable fuels and chemicals. My mission is to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon society by improving technology performance, reliability, cost-effectiveness, and sustainability. This is achieved by collaborating with both industrial and academic partners worldwide to drive meaningful change.

In addition to my research, I am committed to mentoring the next generation of energy engineers and promoting knowledge transfer for a cleaner, sustainable energy future.

Research Interests

Our research is currently centred around the design, preparation, and testing of energy materials, catalysts, and adsorbents. A primary focus is the application of energy materials to technologies such as fuel cells and electrolysers for clean power generation and green hydrogen production, and catalysts for converting carbon into useful and sustainable fuels and chemicals. Additionally, we utilise adsorbents for carbon capture technologies and water treatment for environmental applications. Overall, our goal is to enhance technology performance, reliability, cost-effectiveness, and sustainability.

We are particularly interested in the instrumentation and methods that underpin this research. We strive to understand materials and processes at every scale, from the atomic to the macroscopic. This often involves supporting investigations with in situ electron microscopy studies to understand the role of atoms in driving material properties, and advanced synchrotron experiments coupled with process analysis to understand structure-property correlations across material scales.

Furthermore, we are invested in understanding the impact of these materials at scale. For example, we assess the consequences on performance at the device, system, and ultimately, economic levels when a material's property or metric is improved. For instance, if we enhance a material's ion conductivity for electrolysers tenfold, what is the effect on the cost of the produced hydrogen? This understanding is crucial for identifying the factors that drive the reduction of costs of technologies and processes, making them viable for enabling other technologies or fields. It also helps in agenda-setting by determining if certain materials are worth developing and to what extent before diminishing returns are reached, and a step-change innovation is required to further advance a field.

Many of these processes are also relevant for space exploration. For example, the Martian atmosphere is rich in carbon dioxide, which could be harnessed to produce pure oxygen for sustaining life and fuels and chemicals for sustaining colonization. As such, one area we are looking to expand into is energy and chemical production for space exploration.

Expertise & Capabilities

  • Technologies: electrolysers, fuel cells, catalysis, membranes, chemical looping, direct air capture, hydrogen, sustainable fuels
  • Material classes: oxides, ceramics, composites, nanoparticles, nanomaterials, perovskites, spinels, molten carbonates
  • Materials preparation and processing: solid state synthesis, hydrothermal, reduction processing, exsolution, ball milling, sonication, screen printing, tape casting, cell assembly
  • Methods: X-ray diffraction (XRD), X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS), X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), transmission electron microscopy (TEM), electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS)
  • Software: Wolfram Mathematica, Origin Pro, CrystalMaker, GSAS II, CASA XPS, Blender, MidJourney

Industrial Relevance

Our research is highly relevant to various industries as it addresses critical challenges related to energy conversion, carbon capture, and environmental applications. By focusing on the design, preparation, and testing of energy materials, catalysts, and adsorbents, we contribute to enhancing the performance, reliability, cost-effectiveness, and sustainability of technologies essential for clean power generation, green hydrogen production, and the conversion of carbon into sustainable fuels and chemicals.

Our commitment to industrial collaboration is demonstrated by the support we receive from several industry partners, including active projects with energy companies on sustainable fuels production. Additionally, our work on adsorbents supports carbon capture technologies and water treatment processes, which are crucial for environmental sustainability.

Our approach to understanding the impact of material improvements at different scales helps industries to assess the viability and potential return on investment of new technologies, guiding decision-making processes and investments.

Moreover, our research on energy and chemical production is not only pertinent to terrestrial applications but also holds significant promise for the space exploration industry, as it could enable the production of oxygen, fuels, and chemicals essential for sustaining life and colonization in extraterrestrial environments. Therefore, our work has broad industrial relevance, contributing to the advancement of technologies and processes that are key to addressing some of the most pressing challenges of our time.

Teaching Interests

I serve as the Academic Year Coordinator for Year 1 students, a role that entails ensuring a smooth transition for first-year students into their academic journey. This involves managing the academic quality, delivery, and assessment of first-year modules, as well as addressing student queries, concerns, and suggestions.

I teach foundational courses including 'Basic Principles in Chemical Engineering (CP101)' and supervise 'Chemical Engineering Design (CP407)'. Additionally, I supervise the final year MEng Chemical Engineering project (18530) and MSc projects (CP949).

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 6 - Clean Water and Sanitation
  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy
  • SDG 9 - Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Science, Materials and Devices for Renewable Energy Conversion, University of St Andrews

Award Date: 1 Jul 2013

Master of Engineering, Materials and Processes, Universitatea Politehnica Din Bucuresti

Award Date: 1 Jul 2008

Keywords

  • Hydrogen
  • Hydrogen transition
  • Renewable energy technology
  • Modelling
  • Experimental Design
  • Energy Storage
  • Carbon Capture
  • Sustainable Fuels
  • Materials science
  • Materials and Techniques
  • Synthesis and Characterisation
  • Electrochemistry
  • scanning electron microscopy (SEM)
  • X-Ray Powder Diffraction

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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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  • Roadmap on exsolution for energy applications

    Neagu, D., Irvine, J. T. S., Wang, J., Yildiz, B., Opitz, A. K., Fleig, J., Wang, Y., Liu, J., Shen, L., Ciucci, F., Rosen, B. A., Xiao, Y., Xie, K., Yang, G., Shao, Z., Zhang, Y., Reinke, J., Schmauss, T. A., Barnett, S. A., Maring, R., & 15 othersKyriakou, V., Mushtaq, U., Tsampas, M. N., Kim, Y., O'Hayre, R., Carrillo, A. J., Ruh, T., Lindenthal, L., Schrenk, F., Rameshan, C., Papaioannou, E. I., Kousi, K., Metcalfe, I. S., Xu, X. & Liu, G., 1 Jul 2023, In: Journal of Physics: Energy. 5, 3, 56 p., 031501.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    Open Access
    File
    11 Citations (Scopus)
    28 Downloads (Pure)
  • Switching on electrocatalytic activity in solid oxide cells

    Myung, J., Neagu, D., Miller, D. N. & Irvine, J. T. S., 22 Sept 2016, In: Nature. 537, 7621, p. 528-531 4 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    Open Access
    File
    409 Citations (Scopus)
    25 Downloads (Pure)