PhD position "Impact assessment of the bio-based economy" (1.0 FTE)

Updated: 4 months ago

PhD position "Impact assessment of the bio-based economy" (1.0 FTE)


The Energy & Resources (E&R) group aims to support the search for sustainable development of the energy and resource system through the development of knowledge, methods and instruments for better insights in the strategic merits of a wide array of decarbonisation options. The use of woody biomass for energy and materials is considered an essential option to replace fossil fuels and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and its use is expected to increase strongly in the coming decades. At the same time, many different end-uses for biomass are possible, and the optimal strategies for biomass deployment depend on many factors. In this frame, the E&R group is looking for a PhD student to work on the four year project "Impact assessment of the bio-based economy (ImABBE)". The E&R group, part of the Department of Innovation, Environmental & Energy Sciences, offers an enthusiastic, dynamic working environment. The research is of scientific high quality, and relevant for industrial stakeholders and policy makers in the national and international arena. .
The candidate will collect data, extend the existing models to carry out the economic and GHG assessments, publish the results in scientific articles and ultimately complete a PhD thesis. In order to safeguard access to the related ECN models, the candidate will also be appointed as a guest researcher at ECN. Finally, a contribution to the teaching effort of the E&R group (max. 10% of the time) will be required, mainly by helping in courses and aiding the supervision of MSc students for their MSc thesis.
The work will include amongst others technology assessment of biomass conversion options to novel biomaterials, modelling of their development until 2050, assessment of the impacts of (optimized) cascading of biobased products, and analysis of options to close carbon cycles in de European (bio-based) economy. This with the ultimate aim to quantify the possible greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction, both at (global) system level and at national levels. The work takes into account the trade-offs between cascading and recycling of biobased products, and the (direct) use of biomass for e.g. heavy-duty transport and high-quality heat production. Central objective is to improve insights in the long-term strategies that will yield maximum greenhouse gas emission reductions. Important tools for the work will be the ECN models OPERA and RESolve. The work will also feature a case study on an advanced biorefinery using lignocellulosic biomass for the production of based chemicals, fuels and lignin for heat and power production.

The position is closely linked to a second PhD position, who will work in parallel on the biomass feedstock production and related economic and GHG impacts. The project will be carried out over four years in cooperation with both Dutch and international scientific and industrial partners, including, Akzo Nobel, Avantium, ECN, RWE, PBL and Staatsbosbeheer. 


We are looking for a PhD student with a proven interest in bioenergy and biobased material systems. The following qualifications are expected:

  • the candidate holds a MSc degree in Energy Science or a related field;
  • knowledge of energy systems and the (potential) role of biomass for energy and chemicals/materials;
  • theoretical and practical experience with integrated modelling of energy and chemicals/materials systems;
  • affinity with translating research into policy relevant recommendations;
  • strong analytical skills, combined with creativity and out-of-the-box thinking;
  • excellent English skills (written and oral) are required; knowledge of Dutch would be a plus; but not strictly necessary;
  • preferably, the candidate has proven experience with publishing scientific work in high-impact refereed international scientific journals.


The successful candidate will be offered a full-time PhD student position for one year, with the intention to extend the contract to four years if the performance is satisfactory. The gross salary - depending on previous qualifications and experience  - ranges between €2,191 and €2,801 (salary scalde PhD's according to the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities) gross per month for a full-time employment. Salaries are supplemented with a holiday bonus of 8 % and a year-end bonus of 8.3 % per year. We offer a pension scheme, collective insurance schemes and flexible employment conditions  (multiple choice model). More information can be found at: working at Utrecht University .

Over de organisatie

A better future for everyone. This ambition motivates our scientists in executing their leading research and inspiring teaching. At Utrecht University , the various disciplines collaborate intensively towards major societal themes. Our focus is on Dynamics of Youth, Institutions for Open Societies, Life Sciences and Sustainability.
Utrecht University has been ranked first nationally in the 2016 Academic Ranking of World Universities, and 65th  globally. The University is committed to a strategies orientation on four overarching themes, which include ‘Sustainability’ and ‘Institutions’. The city of Utrecht is one of the oldest cities in the Netherlands, with a charming old center and an internationally oriented culture that is strongly influenced by its century-old university. Utrecht city has been consistently ranked as one of the most liveable cities in the Netherlands.

Utrecht University’s Faculty of Geosciences offers education and research concerning the geosphere, biosphere, atmosphere and anthroposphere. With a population of 2,500 students (BSc and MSc) and 600 staff, the faculty is a strong and challenging organization. The Faculty is organized in four departments: Earth Sciences; Physical Geography; Innovation, Environmental & Energy Sciences (IIES) , and Human Geography & Urban & Regional Planning. The Energy & Resources (E&R) group is part of  the IEES department.

The candidate will collaborate with members of the ImABBE project team (especially the 2nd PhD student), as well as with other researchers in the E&R group.
Aanvullende informatie

For more information, please contact Prof. Martin Junginger ( ) or Dr. Marc Londo ( )


This position is not suitable for post-doctoral candidates. Applications should include a motivation for the application, a statement of your research interests and relevant experience, curriculum vitae (including a list of courses followed during Bachelor and Master and the corresponding grades achieved), and the names of at least two referees (with e-mail contact addresses and phone numbers).
Deadline for submitting your application is 19 May 2017.
Please use the apply button below. 

Reageren uiterlijk 19/05/2017
View or Apply

Similar Positions