This project aims to develop an energy storage system with improved electrode kinetics to enable cost-effective storage of renewable energy
Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris TD, has announced €28m in funding for new research projects under the Irish Research Council (IRC)’s flagship Government of Ireland programmes. The investment will fund 330 awards in total, namely 254 postgraduate scholarships and 76 postdoctoral fellowships.
A record cohort of Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) researchers succeeded in securing funding under the Government of Ireland Postgraduate Scholarship Programme. Varsha Sasikumar, a third-year doctoral student in the Department of Built Environment, School of Engineering, is one of 9 PhD students at WIT to be awarded the 2021 Government of Ireland Postgraduate Scholarship.
Varsha is conducting a PhD by research on Electrochemical Characterisation of Electrode Kinetics in Vanadium-Iron Flow Batteries. The research will be supervised by Dr Andrea Bourke (WIT) in collaboration with Dr Robert Lynch at the University of Limerick. Her research work involves investigation into the kinetics of the electrochemical reactions at carbon electrodes in mixed vanadium-iron flow batteries.
Low-cost, electricity storage is a game changer
The importance of renewable sources and dependency on wind, hydro and solar energy will increase within the upcoming years. Developing improved energy storage will become imperative in the near future to maximise the use of renewable energy. Low-cost, electricity storage is often described as a game changer by the energy industry. There is a significant need to develop low-cost, flexible, and safe energy storage devices that can offer an alternative to lithium-ion batteries. Vanadium-iron flow batteries are a promising solution.
In order to better understand and improve the performance of batteries, it is important to investigate electrode kinetics. Energy storage is the key to the reliable and efficient dispatch of energy from renewables. This project aims to develop an energy storage system with improved electrode kinetics to enable cost-effective storage of renewable energy.
Varsha explains why she applied for the IRC scholarship: “I believed if I was successful in securing this extremely competitive funding, it would serve as a platform for me to establish my research career, and achieve my educational and professional ambitions.”
She added, “I am really proud of myself for reaching this point, and I am grateful to my supervisors for their unwavering support. My career goal is to become an expert in the research and development of energy storage technologies and electrochemical analysis of battery systems. I am hoping to achieve a PhD which will provide me with specific research skills required to become a world-renowned expert in my chosen field.”
Prior to joining WIT to conduct her Phd, Varsha completed a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry and an Master of Science in Nanoscience and Nanotechnology at the University of Madras in India, where she received the Prof A Narayanasamy Endowment Gold Medal for achieving the highest marks in the department.