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Photo of Prof Xiaohong Li

Prof Xiaohong Li

Professor of Energy Storage Technology, Director of Global Development


Telephone: 01326 255769

Xiaohong received her BSc in Organic Chemistry in 1990 from Lanzhou University. After experience as an engineer/project manager for PetroChina Ltd, she returned to university to complete her MSc in Analytical Chemistry in 2000 and PhD in Physical Chemistry in 2003 from Lanzhou University and Peking University. Between 2003 and 2013, she had worked in the University of Southampton and appointed as a Senior Consulting Engineer in the Research Institute for Industry. Xiaohong is currently a professor in Renewable Energy Group and Director of Global Development (Renewable Energy Penryn) at the University of Exeter, and also a visiting scholar at Tsinghua University in China.

Xiaohong’s research interests focus on energy conversion and storage, with an emphasis on redox flow batteries (RFB), anion exchange membrane (AEM) water electrolysers for hydrogen production, and nanoscale materials for electrocatalysis. She is currently the principal investigator of an EPSRC project of Zinc-Nickel Redox Flow Battery for Energy Storage and the principal investigator at the University of Exeter side for a Horizon 2020 project of MELODY Membrane-free low cost high density redox flow battery and an EU Interreg 2 Seas project of E2C Electrons to high value Chemical products. She is the author of 90 research papers including six invited review papers in the area of RFB technology and AEM water electrolyser for hydrogen production. Xiaohong is a member of Science Board of the EPSRC Energy Storage Supergen Hub, a board member of EPSRC Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Supergen Hub, and also a board member of British Standards Institution.


Energy Storage Research 

Google Scholar Citations


Current Postdoctoral Research Fellow Opportunity

Current PhD Studentship Opportunity


Research Interest

Membrane-free RFB for Energy Storage: Redox flow battery (RFB) is seen as a promising energy storage technology for grid-scale applications since RFBs possess advantages such as flexibility, mobility, fast response, safe operation, but not dependent on geographical factors and not involving enormous capital investment, in which, membrane-free RFB systems utilize single electrolyte and therefore no need for membranes. This feature enables system to simplify design and to reduce cost significantly. This novel approach has been her centered scientific interest since 2008. To date, Xiaohong has been involved in four large RFB projects and published > 20 research papers in the area.

AEM Water Electrolyser for Hydrogen Production: Anion exchange membrane (AEM) water electrolysers have a great potential to achieve high efficiency in cost-competiveness because AEM are capable to employ non-precious metal catalysts and cheaper membranes. Xiaohong has 18 published papers on AEM in the area of catalyst development for hydrogen evolution and oxygen evolution reactions.

Xiaohong’s research group is offering to supervise self-funded PhD students in the areas of

  • Engineering design and catalyst of novel AEM water electrolyser cell for green hydrogen production for energy storage
  • Development of low cost membrane-free redox flow battery for energy storage
  • Synthesis, characterisation and electrochemical testing of electrode materials for sodium ion batteries
  • Synthesis, characterisation and electrochemical testing of electrode materials for supercapacitors


Current Projects

  • Horizon 2020 grant: “MELODY: Membrane-free low cost high density redox flow battery”. 2020-2024. This project involves eight project partners across Europe. Total grant is €4m with University of Exeter share of €441k. Role: principle investigator in University of Exeter side.
  • Royal Academy of Engineering UK-Germany Energy Systems Symposium Award: “Flow battery and green hydrogen as energy storage system in coupling renewable energy source”. 2021-2022. Role: principle investigator.  
  • ERDF Interreg 2 Seas grant: “E2C: Electrons to high value Chemical products”. 2018-2021. This project is R&D collaboration between eight partners across Europe. Total grant is €7.185m with University of Exeter share of €840k. Role: principle investigator in University of Exeter side. For more details, please visit the project website:
  • ERDF Interreg Atlantic Area grant: “FAN-BEST: Funding Atlantic Network for Blue Economy Technology Transfer”. 2019-2022. This project is a collaboration between nine partners across Atlantic regions. Total grant is €2.594m. Role: Co-investigator.
  • ERDF ESIF grant: “Cornwall New Energy”. 2017-2020. In collaboration between five partners. Total grant is £2.657m. Role: Co-investigator.
  • EPSRC grant: “Zinc-Nickel Redox Flow Battery for Energy Storage”. 2016-2020. This project is a collaboration between University of Exeter, Imperial College London and University of Warwick. Total grant is £1.034m. Role: principle investigator.


Teaching Modules

  • ENE3007 - Energy Storage Technology (module leader)
  • CSM1037 - Science for Energy Engineering (deputy module leader)
  • ENEM101 - Renewable Energy Systems (lecturer)
  • ENEM105 - Low Carbon Vehicles and Transport (lecturer)
  • CSMM432 - Economics, Energy & Environment (lecturer)
  • ENE3011 - Renewable Energy Third Year Dissertation (supervisor)
  • CSMM402 - Industrial Placement Project (supervisor)