PhD project; Development of catalysts for the direct electrolysis of seawater

Updated: 28 days ago

The Department of Energy Conversion and Storage invites applicants for a PhD position in Development of catalysts for the direct electrolysis of seawater .

At DTU Energy, we carry out R&D in energy conversion technologies for the future sustainable energy system. We are among the world’s leaders in research and development of electrolysis technologies. We have excellent facilities and competences for fabrication, testing and characterization of such devices. DTU Energy has around 200 employees.

We recently got support for an alliance research project dealing with new catalyst materials for the direct electrolysis of seawater. The PhD project is announced in an alliance with the University of Queensland (UQ), which is a leading research institution in Australia and a strategic partner of DTU. The PhD student will have a co-supervisor from UQ, and will spend 6 month during a research stay (covered by DTU) at UQ, in the Faculty of Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology.

Background of the project:

The main goal of the PhD study will be the development and successfully demonstration of a catalyst capable of producing hydrogen directly from seawater.

Standard purification of seawater requires significant amounts of energy, and the multiple purification steps will reduce the robustness of the seawater electrolyser system. Using seawater directly as feed in electrolysers is not feasible today. The reason being that catalysts used today would not produce the desired oxygen, but rather oxidize the chloride in the seawater to poisonous and highly corrosive chlorine gas (Cl2 ), which would ”kill” the electrolysis system in a short time.

To solve this catalytic challenge and develop novel, selective catalysts, which will not produce Cl2 and thus can work in seawater, is the goal of this project.

Responsibilities and tasks

You will work on synthesizing nano-sized catalyst particles, starting with state-of-the-art materials like manganese oxides and nickel-iron layered double hydroxides. Methods and facilities available at DTU Energy that you will use for the synthesis include continuous hydrothermal synthesis, sol-gel processing, colloidal- and micro-emulsion methods. Furthermore, you will do electrochemical testing of the developed materials to identify the catalytic properties with respect to the oxygen evolution reaction and hydrogen production rate.

You will be a member of the Solid State Chemistry section counting ca. 20 members, and work within the cross-disciplinary Technology Track for electrolysis.

Candidates should have a two-year master's degree (120 ECTS points) or a degree of equivalent academic level. The degree should be in the field of electro-chemistry, chemical engineering, materials science, physics or similar. The candidate is expected to start not later than August 2020.

We prefer applicants with: 

  • Strong skills in electrochemistry and electrochemical characterization methods
  • Strong skills in synthesis, preferably with experience in hydrothermal synthesis
  • Experience with or a strong interest in catalysis and/or electrolysis;
  • Interest in conducting a longer research stay outside of  Denmark;
  • Ability to work in a multi-disciplinary environment;
  • Excellent writing and communication skills in English;

Approval and Enrolment

The scholarship for the PhD degree is subject to academic approval, and the candidate will be enrolled in one of the general degree programmes at DTU. For information about our enrolment requirements and the general planning of the PhD study programme, please see the DTU PhD Guide .

The assessment of the applicants will be made by Senior Researcher Wolff-Ragnar Kiebach and Professor Peter Vang Hendriksen.

We offer

DTU is a leading technical university 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 appointment terms

The employment 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 3 years. You can read more about career paths at DTU here

Further information

Further information may be obtained from Senior Researcher Wolff-Ragnar Kiebach ( )). 

You can read more about DTU Energy on

Please submit your online application no later than 15 June 2020 (23:59 local time)

Applications must be submitted as one PDF file containing all materials to be given consideration. To apply, please open the link "Apply online", fill out the online application form, and attach all your materials in English in one PDF file. The file must include: 

  • A letter motivating the application (cover letter)
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Grade transcripts and BSc/MSc diploma
  • Excel sheet with translation of grades to the Danish grading system (see guidelines and Excel spreadsheet here ).

Applications without a correct translation of grades will not be considered!

Candidates may apply prior to obtaining their master's degree but cannot begin before having received it.

Applications and enclosures received after the deadline will not be considered.

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

At DTU Energy it is our vision to be a world-leading cross-disciplinary research department within sustainable technologies for energy conversion and storage, and to enable a sustainable society through innovative technology development building on fundamentalinsights.

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 vision to develop and create value using science and engineering to benefit society. That vision lives on today. DTU has 11,500 students and 6,000 employees. We work in an international atmosphere and have an inclusive, evolving, and informal working environment. Our main campus is in Kgs. Lyngby north of Copenhagen and we have campuses in Roskilde and Ballerup and in Sisimiut in Greenland.

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