PhD scholarship in Novel Routes to Low Temperature Ammonia Synthesis

Updated: about 1 month ago

The Department of Energy Conversion and Storage, Technical University of Denmark (DTU), invites applications for a PhD scholarship in developing new routes to synthesis of ammonia at low temperature.

The research project is part of the Villum Center for the Science of Sustainable Fuels and Chemicals (V-SUSTAIN), which brings together researchers from the Technical University of Denmark, University of Copenhagen, and University of Southern Denmark, among others.  

Synthesis of ammonia accounts for more than 1% of the global energy consumption and more than 1 % of the CO2 emissions. The future demand of ammonia is expected to increase, not only due to population growth, but also because ammonia is considered a potential low emission fuel for global shipping. Hence, more efficient synthesis processes associated with no or reduced emissions will be key to realizing climate policy goals. It is highly advantageous if novel ammonia synthesis routes can be down-scaled and are compliant with the characteristics of the future energy system, where electricity cost and availability will vary due to fluctuating production.        

Responsibilities and tasks
The successful candidate will work on developing and experimentally verifying novel routes to the synthesis of ammonia. Focus will be on process schemes that can be applied at small scale and are primarily driven by electricity and will enable ammonia synthesis at lower temperature and pressure than state of the art today. Within the framework of V-SUSTAIN it has recently been found that ternary hydrides (Li/Ba-Ru-hydrides) offer markedly improved ammonia production rates at ambient pressure between 50 and 300o C.  This class of materials will be sought further developed and experimentally verified. In addition, the work will address how metal halide salts (e.g. MnCl2 )) can be used to improve overall ammonia production rates. Such salts can benefit ammonia synthesis by reducing the ammonia activity during synthesis and thereby boost the formation rate. One can also use such salts for capturing ammonia from gas mixtures where it is present in low concentration e.g. from a low temperature synthesis route of poor selectivity. The captured ammonia can later be extracted in concentrated form by a pressure swing or temperature swing type operation. Such operation mode will be well suited for intermittent operation in a system with varying electricity cost. 

The project will be carried out in close collaboration with the theory groups in V-SUSTAIN, which work on the fundamental description of the reaction pathway and on identifying novel and superior catalysts. It is an aim to verify experimentally, novel catalysts predicted from these materials modelling activities. 

  • Your research will include establishing/modifying setups for characterising ammonia synthesis involving use of auxiliary ammonia getter materials.
  • Your research will include experimental characterisation of reaction kinetics   
  • Your tasks will involve detailed materials characterisation and synthesis of novel catalyst materials.
  • You will be responsible for the daily progress of your research project
  • As part of the PhD education, you will follow courses and assist in teaching activities
  • You are expected to spend at least 3 months at a foreign research institution
  • You will disseminate your work in international peer reviewed journals and at professional conferences.

You must have a two-year master's degree (120 ECTS points) or a similar degree with an academic level equivalent to a two-year master's degree.

We favour candidates with a degree in chemical engineering, chemistry, physics or materials science or a similar degree with an academic level equivalent to a master's degree in engineering. Experience with one or more of the following areas is considered an advantage;

  • Materials synthesis,
  • Experimental characterisation of reaction kinetics
  • Materials characterisation
  • Heterogeneous catalysis and/or electrochemistry

Moreover, the successful candidate:

  • is innovative and able to work in cross-disciplinary teams
  • has good communication skills in English, both written and spoken
  • is able to work independently and take responsibility for the progress and quality of projects.

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 .   

Your application will be assessed by Professor Peter Vang Hendriksen and Dev. Eng. Xiufu Sun. 

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 appointment terms
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 Professor Peter Vang Hendriksen. .   

You can read more DTU Energy 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
Your complete online application must be submitted no later thanThursday,23 December 2021 (Danish 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 )

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

Applications 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.

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, polymer solar cells, magnetic refrigeration, superconductivity, thermoelectrics, 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. 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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