The national need for PhD-trained energy storage researchers is evident and growing. To support a UK domestic battery manufacturing industry and its value chain there will be a demand for an estimated 4,500 trained researchers in R&D in the UK by 2040. This equates to the need for more than 150 newly qualified PhDs per year from 2025 and around 250 PhDs from 2030. Recent discussions with leading industrial partners affirm that the demand for PhD trained researchers with battery technology expertise, an appreciation for industrial requirements and a breadth of transferable skills that will enable flexibility and integration between university and industry efforts is present and will continue to grow.
|By the Numbers|
|4,500||Trained battery researchers needed in the UK to support battery manufacturing (2040)|
|150||Newly qualified UK-based PhDs in battery research needed per year to 2025|
|44||PhDs in first three cohorts|
|44||PhDs trained as STEM Ambassadors|
|389||Number of expressions of interest for 14 positions available in 2020|
|91||Number of additional PhD researchers affiliated to Faraday Institution projects|
The Faraday Institution has built a comprehensive outreach and education programme with a strong focus on equality, diversity and inclusion that extends across STEM outreach, undergraduate attraction, PhD researcher training and early career professional development to create a steady stream of trained battery scientists and engineers for the UK for years to come. The Faraday Institution PhD Training programme seeks to increase the knowledge, skills and aspirations of early career researchers (see page 54 of the 2019/20 annual report) and aims to deliver future industry R&D staffing needs as well as strengthen university research groups in energy storage.
Now in its third year, the Faraday Institution offers a comprehensive PhD training programme, supporting 44 PhD researchers from 18 UK universities. Faraday Institution PhD cohorts have a varied PhD Training Programme that provides access to multiple networking opportunities, industry talks / visits, coaching, mentorship, internships, as well as other quality experiences. Training is given on topics such as battery safety, the battery business, entrepreneurship, presentation skills, project management, strength profiling, negotiation skills, thesis and grant writing.
It is the sole UK programme addressing both skills shortage and specialist industry needs in energy storage and prepares researchers ready to pursue roles in academia, industry or policy making. Career coaching and the residential aspect of the cohort training – offered virtually during the pandemic – has generated a strong network and a sense of belonging.
Training partners supporting the programme include leading industry and academic institutions: Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, Britishvolt, Diamond Light Source, IMECHE, Imperial College London, ISIS Neutron and Muon Source, Jaguar Land Rover, Johnson Matthey, Newcastle University, The Central Laser Facility, UK Battery Industrialisation Centre and WMG and expert training providers BodyTalk, Kindred, Science Learning Partnership, Scriptoria, Skillfluence and The Art of Work.
In Year 3, Faraday Institution PhD Researchers have the opportunity to undertake a 3-month placement to widen their experience and assist in determining future career paths. To date internships have been secured with the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee (through UKRI), Jaguar Land Rover (JLR), Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, Exawatt, Parliamentary Office for Science and Technology and Lambda Energy.
Equality, Diversity and Inclusion
The Faraday Institution’s commitment to diversifying and widening the pool of talent and continuing work with our university partners has seen greater gender and ethnic diversity over three years, achieving a 50/50 female to male ratio in our third cohort.
Faraday Institution PhD Researcher reflections about the impact of the programme:
Being part of the Faraday Institution opens so many doors and provides so many more opportunities/experiences than a normal PhD. I feel so lucky to be a part of it.”
Rosie Madge, University of Birmingham
Perhaps the aspect of the PhD I cherish the most is the collaborative side of it. I found the collaboration and discussion with colleagues within my own lab, the Faraday Institution consortium or industry partners extremely valuable and stimulating. It really made me understand that science is made through good collaboration. I feel engaged, challenged and supported throughout my PhD journey.”
Alexander Dimitrijevic, UCL
I have had unique opportunities to gain a genuine insight into the forefront of human knowledge on energy storage, observe how research is progressed through collaboration, and understand how industrial partners are adapting to a changing world. The programme provides PhD researchers with the best opportunity to have a successful career in energy storage technology following their studies.”
Jacob M. Dean, University of Bath
PhD researchers explain how their research is helping to find solutions to real world problems:
Explore how researchers are using their skills to inform and educate the general public – of all ages – about their research and around issues vital to the electrification of transport: Waste opportunity by Giovanni Maddalena, The importance of recycling electric vehicle batteries by Beatrice Browning, Working with atoms, a podcast by Jack Aspinall, and the award winning STEM outreach activity, Crunchie Bar Batteries by Beatrice Browning and Rosie Madge.
As well as the 44 cohort PhD researchers, a further 91 PhD students are affiliated to the Faraday Institution and are integral members of project teams. Affiliated PhD researchers have access to multiple training opportunities including (in 2020) 20+ Faraday Masterclasses with experts in the field, in-depth Faraday Tech series on characterisation techniques as well as topics such as intellectual property and EDI, WMG Battery School, the EMPOWER women coaching programme, the Annual Conference, Nature Masterclasses on scientific writing and publishing and more.
Success story published April 2021.