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Photo of Prof Xiaohong Li

Prof Xiaohong Li

Professor and Chair of Energy Storage, 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 and chair of energy storage in Renewable Energy Group and Director of Global Development (Renewable Energy Penryn) at the University of Exeter. 

Xiaohong’s research interests focus on energy conversion and storage, with an emphasis on battery electrode materials, anion exchange membrane (AEM) water electrolysers for hydrogen production, and nanoscale materials for electrocatalysis. She is currently 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, an EU Interreg 2 Seas project of E2C Electrons to high value Chemical products, and the Co-Director of EPRSC Place-Based Impact Acceleration Account project of GW-SHIFT: Great Western Supercluster of Hydrogen Impact for Future Technologies.

Xiaohong is the author of > 100 peer-reviewed journal papers including two book chapters and 10 invited review papers in the area of redox flow battery (RFB) technology and AEM water electrolyser for hydrogen production. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry (FRSC) and a Fellow of The Higher Education Academy (FHEA).


Google Scholar Citations




Research Interest

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 30 published papers on AEM in the area of catalyst development for hydrogen evolution and oxygen evolution reactions.

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.


For more, please visit the website of Energy Storage Research.


Supervision of PhD Student Research Project

Xiaohong’s research group is offering supervision of PhD research (and self-funded PhD students) in the areas of (if interested, please send your CV and research proposal to contact Xiaohong for discussion)

  • Battery electrode materials and engineering design
  • Nanomaterials for battery, supercapacitor, and catalyst study
  • Green hydrogen production from renewables via water electrolysis
  • Catalyst development of novel AEM water electrolyser cell for green hydrogen production for energy storage
  • Development of low cost membrane-free redox flow battery systems for energy storage
  • Recycling of lithium ion battery
  • Synthesis, characterisation and electrochemical testing of electrode materials for sodium ion batteries
  • If interested in applying China Scholarship Council PhD Scholarships with research area stated above or close, please contact me.  

Current PhD Studentship Opportunities


Research Projects

  • EPSRC Place-Based Impact Acceleration Account Award (EP/Y023994/1). Project title: “GW-SHIFT: Great Western Supercluster of Hydrogen Impact for Future Technologies”. 2024-2027. This project brings researchers from across the GW4 Alliance of Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter universities alongside Swansea, South Wales, and Plymouth and will work with 25 civic and industry partners to maximise the enormous potential of the South West of England and South Wales hydrogen ecosystem. Total grant is £2.5m. Role: Co-Director and principal investigator in University of Exeter side.
  • Horizon 2020 grant: “MELODY: Membrane-free low cost high density redox flow battery”. 2020-2025. This project involves eight project partners across Europe. Total grant is €4m. Role: principal investigator in University of Exeter side. For more details, please visit the project website:   
  • GW4 Building Communities Programme Generator Fund: “ALLIANCE: All-solid-state lithium-ion batteries with cellulose enhanced solid polymer electrolytes”. 2024-2025. This project is a joint collaboration between GW4 Universities of Exeter, Bath, Bristol, and Cardiff. Total grant is £20k. Role: Co-investigator.
  • QUEX Accelerator Grant: “Green hydrogen production and glycerol waste mitigation”. 2024-2025. Seed funding award of £30k from the QUEX Institute, a pioneering collaboration between the University of Queensland and the University of Exeter, to promote a broadening of academic and research collaboration between the two universities. Role: principal investigator in University of Exeter side. For more details, please visit the QUEX Institute website
  • 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. Seed funding in collaboration with Helmut Schmidt University in Germany. Role: principal investigator.   
  • ERDF Interreg 2 Seas grant: “E2C: Electrons to high value Chemical products”. 2018-2023. This project is R&D collaboration between eight partners across Europe. Total grant is €7.185m. Role: principal 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”. 2019-2023. This project is a collaboration between nine partners across Atlantic regions. Total grant is €2.594m. Role: Co-investigator.
  • ERDF ESIF grant: “Cornwall Marine Hydrogen Centre”. 2021-2023. In collaboration between University of Exeter and Pure Energy Professionals. Total grant is £737k. 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: principal 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)
  • ENEM104 - Renewable Energy MSc Dissertation (supervisor)
  • CSMM402 - Industrial Placement Project (supervisor)