PhD position Energy Systems & Control

Updated: about 2 months ago
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Do you have a MSc in (fusion/plasma) physics and/or MSc in control engineering and are you looking for a PhD in the field of fusion energy and ? Click here and read further!
De Zaale 20 Eindhoven
Theme Fusion Energy
Energy Systemts and Control
Kind of contract: 
Kind of function: 
PhD student
Working hours: 
Level of education: 
Level of experience: 
Vacancy id: 
Publication date: 
November 25, 2022
Closing date: 
December 8, 2022

The Dutch Institute for Fundamental Energy Research (DIFFER) performs leading fundamental research on materials, processes, and systems for a global sustainable energy infrastructure. We work in close partnership with (inter)national academia and industry. Our user facilities are open to industry and university researchers. As an institute of the Dutch Research Council (NWO-I) DIFFER plays a key role in fundamental research for the energy transition.

We use a multidisciplinary approach applicable on two key areas, solar fuels for the conversion and storage of renewable energy and nuclear fusion – as a clean source of energy.

Differ is looking for a PhD in Energy Systems & Control

In this project, we aim to develop the hybrid control approach necessary to control density profiles to optimize the fusion reaction and hence the efficiency of future fusion reactors. This project is a combination of fusion knowledge and advanced control engineering.

In the project we will develop a hybrid control1 approach for the pellet injection necessary to fuel the core’s fusion reactor. The newly developed controllers will be tested using JINTRAC4 code suite (HPI2, JETTO, PENCIL, PION etc.). Moreover, synthetic diagnostics will also need to be developed and included, e.g., in-house developed density observer RAPDENS2,3   and a neutron sensor as a measurement for fusion power.

1. Lunze, J. Fault diagnosis of discretely controlled continuous systems by means of discrete-event models. Discret. Event Dyn. Syst. 18, 181–210 (2008).

2. Bosman, T., Van Berkel, M. & De Baar, M. R. Model-based electron density profile estimation and control, applied to ITER. J. Phys. Commun. available online, (2021).

3. Blanken, T. C. et al. Control-oriented modeling of the plasma particle density in tokamaks and application to real-time density profile reconstruction. Fusion Eng. Des. 126, 87–103 (2018).

4. Romanelli, M. et al. JINTRAC: A system of codes for integrated simulation of Tokamak scenarios. Plasma Fusion Res. 9, 1–4 (2014).

Position and requirements

Preferred background:

As this project combines nuclear fusion research with control engineering, a solid background in both fields, preferably MSc. in (fusion/plasma) physics and/or MSc. in control engineering,  is strongly recommended. Moreover, background knowledge and familiarization with hybrid control would be a strong point in every application.

The new PhD student is asked to fulfil following tasks:

  • Literature review and planning
  • Defining automaton (mathematical model) for the control of distributed density, temperature, and D-T ratio including relevant constraints and optimal regions (points)
  • Develop reduced model for continuous transport
  • Develop MPC controller including event generator and corresponding switching logic
  • Include the effect of missing pellets and assess the reduction on performance (package loss)
  • Test in simulation hybrid controller coupled to JINTRAC
  • Thesis writing

Terms and conditions

This position is for 1 FTE, will be for a period of 4 years and is graded in pay scale PhD. The position will be based at DIFFER ( ) and the working location will be at TU Eindhoven. When fulfilling a position at DIFFER, you will have an employee status at NWO. You can participate in all the employee benefits NWO offers. We have a number of regulations that support employees in finding a good work-life balance. At DIFFER we believe that a workforce diverse in gender, age and cultural background is key to performing excellent research. We therefore strongly encourage everyone to apply. More information on working at NWO can be found at the NWO website ( )

Information and application

For more information concerning the position please contact Matthijs Berkel via . To apply for this position, please click the button underneath:

Closing date: 
December 8, 2022
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