Postdoc - Investigating new Parameter Space with CO2 Electrocatalysis – DTU Physics

Updated: 7 months ago
Deadline: The position may have been removed or expired!

Near ambient temperature CO2 electrolysis is an emerging approach for providing a sustainable approach to produce the carbon-based molecules necessary for the chemicals industry as well as aviation and shipping fuels.  Over the last decade an incredible amount of research has been done in this field and new companies are emerging.  However, in terms of research this entails a shift from investigating ‘perfect environment’ catalysis to more real world issues. 

Coupling reductive CO2 electrolysis to oxidative chlorine electrolysis appears a promising way to effective double an electrolyzers usefulness.  However, operating CO2 electrolysis within the confines of the conditions necessary for chlorine electrolysis has yet to be investigated from a detailed, scientific analysis standpoint.  Thus understanding the effects of chlorine, and other halides, on catalysis will be a major focus of this position. 

Beyond coupled CO2 electrolysis, all commercial electrolyzers operate slightly above room temperature due to electrolyzer-produced heat and we would also like to operate at slightly elevated pressures to improve performance.  Thus from a broader perspective, this project will focus on understanding the effects of contaminants, temperature and pressure on CO2 (or CO) electrolysis.

The primary responsibility of this position is characterizing and testing electrocatalysts for either CO2 or CO reduction with reduced overpotential, product selectivity, and durability as the key performance indicators.

We have both fundamental H-cell testing infrastructure as well as membrane electrode assembly testing infrastructure and either may be used to accomplish the goals of understanding the effects of chlorine.  Additionally an electrochemical mass spectrometer (from Spectro Inlets) is also available for this task. The goal is to understand fundamental understanding in relation to practical applications, thus highly precise and detailed analysis.

While the primary focus will be on halide effects on CO2 electrocatalysis, there will be space to branch out into other aspects of CO2 electrocatalysis such as temperature and pressure effects as well as catalyst development. A key goal in terms of selectivity will be in terms of ethanol over ethylene.  There will be also focus on avoiding low value products such as formate, acetate and methane.

The potential to teach, advise Bachelor/Master student thesis projects, or be involved in proposal writing is also available to those that are interested in further developing their careers in any of those directions.

Our approach is highly collaborative at DTU, thus it is expected that you will have substantial collaborative interactions with both other experimentalists as well as computational chemists in designing new catalysts and understanding the phenomena related to halide effects on CO2 electrolysis. 

The work will take place at the Surface Science and Catalysis(SurfCat) labs of DTU Physics. In the SurfCat laboratories we have 3 electrochemical mass spectrometer devices, 20 potentiostats, 4 RDE set-ups, 6 gas chromatographs, 2 magnetron sputter chambers, 2 mass-selected cluster source devices, 5 XPS (one with in-line electrochemical set-up), 3 gloveboxes, 2 XRD set-ups (one allowing in-situ annealing with gas flow), ICP-MS, FTIR, 3 full time technicians, and a sufficient number of wet-labs, fume hoods, and furnaces. 

This project will also have access to clean room facilities and electron microscopy via DTU Nanolab , as well as consultants on innovation and routes for start-up companies.

The successful candidate should be highly ambitious as well as open minded and willing and able to work as part of a team. As a formal qualification, you must hold a PhD degree (or equivalent). The degree should be preferably in Physics, Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, Material Science or a similar field or will expect to have that degree within the immediate future. Quality in research is the core principle in which we strive for, thus a strong fundamental scientific approach and knowledge base is essential.

The candidate must have extensive experimental experience working with electrocatalytic techniques and reactions, preferably in CO2 electrolysis.  Experience with gas chromatographs, HPLC, NMR, ICP-MS and mass flow controllers would be beneficial as well as characterization techniques such as electron microscopy, X-ray diffraction, and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy. Programming skills in Python would be helpful. 

We offer
DTU is a leading technical university globally recognized for the excellence of its research, education, innovation and scientific advice. We offer a rewarding and challenging job in an international environment. We strive for academic excellence in an environment characterized by collegial respect and academic freedom tempered by responsibility.

Salary and terms of employment
The appointment will be based on the collective agreement with the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations. The allowance will be agreed upon with the relevant union. 

The period of employment is 18 months. The position start date is negotiable, but preferably we would like this to start around August or September 2023.

You can read more about career paths at DTU here .

Further information
Further information may be obtained about the research at SurfCat at the Department of Physics at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) please go to .

Should you have any queries regarding the positions, please contact Professor Brian Seger . To read more about the Physics department in general, please see . 

If you are applying from abroad, you may find useful information on working in Denmark and at DTU at DTU – Moving to Denmark .

Application procedure
Your complete online application must be submitted no later than 19 May 2023 (Danish time). Applications must be submitted as one PDF file containing all materials to be given consideration. To apply, please open the link "Apply now", fill out the online application form, and attach all your materials in English in one PDF file. The file must include:

  • Application (cover letter)
  • CV
  • Academic Diplomas (MSc/PhD – in English)
  • List of publications 

Applications received after the deadline will not be considered.

All interested candidates irrespective of age, gender, disability, race, religion or ethnic background are encouraged to apply.

The SurfCat section of DTU Physics consists of 6 professors and approximately 40-50 PhD’s and postdoc with the overarching theme of catalysis, thus there will be a large number of colleagues to work with and gain expertise from.  Additionally the SurfCat section has a close collaboration with the CatTheory section of DTU Physics, who focuses on computational catalysis. Thus there are continua collaborations developing between these 2 sections.

Technology for people
DTU develops technology for people. With our international elite research and study programmes, we are helping to create a better world and to solve the global challenges formulated in the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Hans Christian Ørsted founded DTU in 1829 with a clear mission to develop and create value using science and engineering to benefit society. That mission lives on today. DTU has 13,500 students and 6,000 employees. We work in an international atmosphere and have an inclusive, evolving, and informal working environment. DTU has campuses in all parts of Denmark and in Greenland, and we collaborate with the best universities around the world.

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