PhD scholarship in Exsolved Nanocatalysts for Efficient and Robust Green Hydrogen Production (ENERGHy)

Updated: about 1 month ago

We offer a 3-year PhD position to carry out research on the development of exsolved nanocatalysts for the oxygen and hydrogen evolution reactions in the electrolytic production of hydrogen.

The Section of Electrochemistry at DTU Energy carries out research on electrochemical conversion and storage technologies, such as fuel cells, electrolysis cells, flow batteries, and novel types of electrochemical cells for power to X. Our research spans from fundamental understanding of electrochemical materials and processes to fabrication of lab scale components and devices and testing using advanced electrochemical characterization methods and test stations. We work in close collaboration with other Sections within the Department of Energy Conversion and Storage, expanding our capacity for materials processing, microstructural characterization, and modeling.

Electrolysis is a key enabling technology for establishing a 100% sustainable energy system as it can both facilitate large scale storage of renewable electricity and provide fossil fuel free H2 for the production of sustainable chemicals and fuels. Broad implementation of electrolysis is nowadays hampered by catalyst/electrode degradation and cost. ENERGHy will help overcome this challenge by developing a new generation of catalysts/electrodes, based on exsolution of nanoparticles from a host mixed metal oxide. Besides the anticipated boost in performance, exsolution offers a cost effective solution as the nanoparticles are forming spontaneously on the surface of the host oxide without the need for additional catalyst loading steps. Durability is also promoted due to i) suppression of surface diffusion and agglomeration, and ii) the possibility to regenerate the nanoparticles by dissolving them in the host structure and exsolving them afresh.

Responsibilities and tasks
At DTU Energy we are developing electrocatalysts, electrodes, and membranes for advanced electrolysis cells. We do so by striving for fundamental understanding of the underlying processes that will help guide progress in a rational manner. The success of ENERGHy relies on our ability to select the right composition of the host structure and the parameters of the exsolution process that will result in the desired catalytic activity and support functionality. This will be achieved by in-situ monitoring and understanding the kinetics of the exsolution process while carefully characterizing the transport and catalytic properties of the resulting structures.

This PhD project will be carried out in collaboration with the group of Assoc. Prof. WooChul Jung at the Korean Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), who have many years of experience with exsolution based catalysts. The PhD work at DTU will be aligned with ongoing activities at KAIST. The PhD student at DTU will focus on the development of catalysts/electrodes for high temperature alkaline electrolysis cells (HT-AEC) and polymer electrolyte membrane electrolysis cells (PEMEC), whereas the activities at KAIST are centred around ceramic proton conducting electrolysis cells (CPCEC) and solid oxide electrolysis cells (SOEC). Parallel efforts at DTU and KAIST will focus on distinct but complementary compositions in order to explore a broader range of the composition space through sample exchange. This will also incentivize collaboration and result in joint publications. Some of your key responsibilities and tasks are:

  • You will be responsible for the selection of host catalysts compositions on the basis of a thorough literature review and input from your supervisors with respect to the criteria required to overcome the targeted electrolyzer challenges.
  • You will synthesize and characterize the selected compositions, and carry out detailed in-situ monitoring of the exsolution process.
  • You will carry out electrochemical testing of selected exsolved nanocatalysts for the OER and HER using model electrodes, with emphasis on assessing kinetics and catalyst stability.
  • You will implement some of the best developed catalysts into technological electrodes, using low cost fabrication methods, and you will carry out testing of lab scale electrolysis cells to show case the potential of these advanced catalysts.
  • You will work in close collaboration with our partners from KAIST, Korea, where you will also have the opportunity to carry out your obligatory external stay for a period of 3-6 months.

Your work will built upon a broad knowledge base on electrochemistry and will benefit from our well-equipped and diverse labs and a spirit of knowledge sharing and collaboration within the Department. You are expected to take a leading role in the scientific and practical gearing of your project, proposing the most appropriate way forward, establishing an action and time plan in line with the overall project timeline, and coordinating the required work in the most efficient and productive way possible.

You must have a two-year master's degree (120 ECTS points) in e.g. Physics, Materials Science, or Physical Chemistry. or a similar degree with an academic level equivalent to a two-year master's degree.

As an appropriate candidate you are:

  • Highly motivated and enthusiastic about the research topic
  • Responsible, sincere, and forthcoming
  • Driven by challenges, forward looking, and pro-active
  • Able to work independently as well as within a team
  • Excited to be part of a dynamic multi-disciplinary group
  • Able to plan and carry out complicated tasks, and to pursue parallel paths
  • Able to accommodate in your planning time boundaries imposed by the overall project goals
  • Good at communicating and reporting your work in both written and spoken English

Documented experience in one or more of the following specific areas is required:

  • Electrochemical characterization
  • Chemical synthesis, Electron microscopy, X-ray diffraction, and other structural and chemical analysis techniques
  • Alkaline electrolysis cells or polymer electrolyte membrane electrolysis cells

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 .

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 3 years.

You can read more about career paths at DTU here .

Further information
Further information may be obtained from:

Senior Scientist Christodoulos Chatzichristodoulou; , tel.: +45 21325057

Head of Section Lars Nilausen Cleemann; . 

You can read more about the Department of Energy Conversion and Storage at

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
Please submit your online application no later than 17 May 2021

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 )

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

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

DTU Energy
The Department of Energy Conversion and Storage is focusing on functional materials and their application in sustainable energy technology. Our research areas include fuel cells, electrolysis, solar cells, electromechanical converters, sustainable synthetic fuels, and batteries. The Department, which has more than 200 employees, was founded in 2012. Additional information about the department can be found on .

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 12,900 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. 

View or Apply

Similar Positions