UCL Electrochemical Innovation Lab

Prof Paul Shearing

Prof Paul Shearing


Dept of Chemical Engineering

Faculty of Engineering Science

Joined UCL
4th Jul 2011

Research summary

My research interests are in electrochemical engineering – the study and design of electrochemical processes in devices including fuel cells, batteries and electrochemical reactors. I am involved in a wide range of projects which include understanding and development of Li batteries, development of Solid Oxide Fuel Cells (SOFCs), electro-reduction of spent nuclear fuels using molten salt reactions, and monitoring corrosion in PEM fuel cells.

From 2012-16 I held Royal Academy of Engineering Research Fellowship entitled “4-dimensional tomography of electrochemical devices”. Over the past 5 years I have pioneered the application of multi-length scale microscopy and tomography to explore material microstructures for fuel cells and batteries, providing unique insight into the fundamental relationship between microscopic materials structure and macroscopic device performance; this work has included a number of world firsts, including: the first high resolution tomographic study of Li-ion battery electrodes and the first application of X-ray absorption spectroscopy imaging to SOFC bulk electrodes. In tandem with relevant modelling tools it is possible to understand microscopic physical phenomena in these materials.

I have published more than 140 peer reviewed papers in this area over the past 5 years, including three invited review papers and a recently completed book chapter (due for publication Autumn 2013). These publications have attracted extensive citation, my 2009 paper “3D Reconstruction of SOFC Anodes using a FIB Lift-Out Technique” was the most cited paper in the journal Chemical Engineering Science for 2009-10. I am the recipient of a US Dept. of Energy Stanford (SSRL) Science Highlight for his paper “Multi Length Scale Microstructural Investigations of a Commercially Available Li-ion Battery Electrode”.

I have delivered numerous talks at international conferences, including a invited Keynote speeches at ISSM-SOFC (Tokyo, 2013) and Nanofair 2012 (Dresden) – as well as many invited talks at universities and companies in the UK, Europe, USA and Canada.

My research makes extensive use of synchrotron radiation and I have successfully conducted experiments at Diamond Lightsource (UK), Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource (CA, USA) the Advanced Photon Source (IL, USA), the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF, Grenoble, France) and the Paul Scherrer Institut SLS (Switzerland). Recently I have started to explore the complementarities offered by coupled X-ray and neutron imaging and spectroscopy.

Teaching summary

Teaching Interests

Transport phenomena is at the heart of many chemical engineering processes – I teach a core chemical engineering first year course in Transport Processes (CENG1001) which introduces the relationships between heat, mass and momentum transfer in laminar and turbulent regimes. The seminal textbook Transport Phenomena, by Bird, Stewart and Lightfoot provides a comprehensive overview of the subject. I also contribute to teaching the 3rd Year Design Project and to the supervision of Masters’ level research projects.


I am actively engaged in outreach and science communication and, alongside UCL Engineering, I have worked with a number of organizations to promote science and engineering to a wider audience – these include Women in SET, NAGTY, Arrival Education and the National Engineering Foundation. In 2012, I was part of a team that took fuel cell power to the Green Man Festival as part of an RCUK project


In 2006, I graduated with the top first in Chemical Engineering at Birmingham University and in the same year was awarded the university’s Sir John Cadman Prize and the Salter’s Institute Graduate Prize. From 2006-09 I completed a PhD in Dept. Earth Science and Engineering, Imperial College under the supervision of Prof Nigel Bandon as part of the UK Supergen Fuel Cells Programme. My thesis “Characterisation of Solid Oxide Fuel Cells in Three-Dimensions” was awarded the Imperial College, Janet Watson Memorial Prize for Research Excellence.

After a short post-doctoral appointment at Imperial, I joined Dept. Chemical Engineering at UCL as a lecturer in July 2011 – shortly after I won a RAEng Research Fellowship entitled, which I will hold until 2016. Since starting at UCL my research has attracted over £15M funding, including grants from the MRC, RAEng, Office of Naval Research and STFC. I lead the STFC funded Global Challenge Network in Batteries and Electrochemical Energy Devices, the network brings together leading international researchers from industry and academia. Through this and other projects, I engage actively with industry including Xradia, General Motors, Tata Steel and Praxair.