Dr Trevor Davies

Senior Lecturer in Natural Sciences
Senior Lecturer in Natural Sciences

Trevor is a physical chemist with a background in electrochemistry, fuels and combustion. He has a PhD from the University of Oxford and worked at Shell research for a number of years. He is a member of staff at the Natural Sciences Department since 2014.

Qualifications

BSc, MSc, PhD

Teaching

  • SE4007 - Chemistry Fundamentals
  • SE4023 - Introduction to Thermodynamics

Research

Trevor's research interests cover a range of fundamental and applied areas:

  1. Fundamental carbon (graphite) electrochemistry.  Although carbon has been used as an electrode material for many years, there is an ongoing debate regarding the electroactivity of different surface groups – this is key to understanding carbon electrochemistry.  I combine simulations and experiments to gain insights into the electrochemical reactions at different graphite surface groups.
  2. Nanotechnology (electrochemistry).  Some of the work from fundamental experiments with graphite has applications in nanotechnology.  For example, the growth of nanowires on edge plane steps on highly oriented pyrolytic graphite (HOPG) surfaces.
  3. Electrochemistry at the 3-phase boundary.  Many electrochemical reactions take place at a 2 phase boundary (solid electrode | liquid electrolyte).  However, some important electrochemical reactions occur at 3-phase boundaries (electrode | phase 2 | electrolyte).  The most famous example is in conventional fuel cells where the oxidation of hydrogen and reduction of oxygen occur at the gas | platinum | electrolyte boundary.  My research seeks to gain insights into the thickness of these boundaries and how conditions affect the boundaries.  I also try to exploit our understanding of the processes that occur at 3 phase boundary for novel applications, such as sensors.
  4. Sensors/electroanalysis.  Some of my research looks at discovering and developing new electrochemical sensors.  This includes new electrode materials with considerable benefits over existing technologies (for example increased sensitivity) and combining biochemical and electrode process to develop new biosensors (for example in the area of DNA).
  5. Fuel cells.  Conventional low temperature polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cells are a rapidly increasing market.  However, their market impact has been limited due to their high cost and poor durability.  This is mainly caused by the direct reduction of oxygen at the cathode.  I research a new generation of PEM fuel cells – “regenerative fuel cells”, which replace air with a liquid catholyte and operate via the in-direct reduction of oxygen.  This technology has the potential to dramatically decrease the cost and improve the durability of PEM fuel cells without a loss in performance.
  6. Redox flow batteries (RFBs).  RFBs are a rapidly growing energy storage technology, often coupled with intermittent renewable power generation (wind, solar, tidal, etc.).  However, a considerable amount of research and development is still required in this field to maximise the impact of this electrochemical technology.  My interests are studying the fundamental process that occur at the electrodes, where the objective is to dramatically improve cell performance by improving the cell design and making the electrochemical reactions more efficient.   
  7. Combustion/emissions.  I conduct simulations and experiments in the area of autoiginition, with a focus on gasoline (knock) and diesel combustion. 
  8. Fuel-engine interactions.  I conduct research into the fundamental processes that cause deposit build up in internal combustion engines.  This involves the development of new methodologies to screen hundreds of fuels to identify formulations that cause, prevent and remove deposits.

Current activities:

  1. RSC fund (£4000) to investigate the electroanaytical properties of graphite felt.  Graphite felts are the most common electrode material used in redox flow batteries.
  2. Supervising a PhD student at Liverpool University:  Investigating the electrochemistry of graphite felts. 
  3. Collaborating with Prof. Craig Banks at Manchester Metropolitan University on a number of fundamental electrochemical projects.
  4. Collaborating with Dr. Yuyuan Zhao at Liverpool University:  exploring electrochemical applications of metal foams.
  5. Re-commissioning the chassis dynamometer facilitates at Thornton.
  6. Commissioning of 3 regenerative fuel cell rigs, one conventional fuel cell rig and one redox flow battery rig for research and development activities.

Published work

For a full list of Trevor's published scientific articles, please see his profile on Research Gate.