PhD position on Heat Management in CO2 Electrolysis

Updated: 2 months ago
Deadline: 02 Apr 2023

How hot will electrolysis be?

How to supply fuels and carbon-based materials without fossil sources? At e-Refinery, we’re working on accelerating the energy transition by developing technology for converting CO2 and water into sustainable fuels and feedstock, using renewable electricity. To this end we can convert CO2 to carbon-based products, such as carbon monoxide (which can be used as precursor for making fuels and chemicals, such as methanol or plastics), in CO2 electrolysis. This process of electrochemical CO2 conversion has been proven in the lab, and is at the stage op upscaling towards practical application. However, this process also produces heat, which is becoming particularly important when scaling the electrolyzer design. If we imagine that we need many electrolyzers at MW-scale, and roughly half of the energy in these devices is ending up as heat, then heat management is a crucial step for upscaling. The impact of this heat on the electrochemical CO2 conversion, and the strategies to manage the heat, are largely unknown.

In this PhD project, you will study the temperature distribution and heat fluxes in a state-of-the-art CO2 electrolyzer at several scales. Your work will be mainly experimental, using our optical and conducting sensors for in situ temperature mapping, in combination with our electrochemical techniques for analysing the cell performance and measuring product formation. You will design and investigate strategies, and engineer designs, to control the temperature within electrolyzers to boost the utility of the technology.

The PhD position is available for 4 years, fully funded by Dutch subsidies and industrial co-funding. You will collaborate on this topic in a team with 4 PhD’s, 2 postdocs and 5 professors, which allow to combine results at different scales and simulation work from the other researchers in the team. You will also interact with companies involved in the project, including Johnson Matthey, AGFA and Vattenfall. You will be positioned in the research groups of David Vermaas and Tom Burdyny. In addition to the researchers that focus on heat management in electrolyzers,  the people in our research groups have wide experience in electrochemical conversion, such as (water) electrolysis, CO2 capture, fluid dynamics and electrocatalysis. As the other researchers in the group investigate related electrochemical processes, we foster the interaction between researchers in the group.     

We’re looking for a candidate with:

  • A MSc degree, in chemical engineering, mechanical engineering, applied physics or similar.
  • An excellent educational record (e.g. proof of good grades in top-rated university)
  • Pro-active and creative mind-set
  • Experience in doing experiments with electrochemical systems is considered a plus
  • Fluent in English. For non-native English speakers, either an English-taught MSc degree or score test certificate (TOEFL>100 points or IELTS >7.0) is required
  • Starting date planned for summer 2023 

Doing a PhD at TU Delft requires English proficiency at a certain level to ensure that the candidate is able to communicate and interact well, participate in English-taught Doctoral Education courses, and write scientific articles and a final thesis. For more details please check the Graduate Schools Admission Requirements .

Doctoral candidates will be offered a 4-year period of employment in principle, but in the form of 2 employment contracts. An initial 1,5 year contract with an official go/no go progress assessment within 15 months. Followed by an additional contract for the remaining 2,5 years assuming everything goes well and performance requirements are met.

Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities, increasing from € 2541 per month in the first year to € 3247 in the fourth year. As a PhD candidate you will be enrolled in the TU Delft Graduate School. The TU Delft Graduate School provides an inspiring research environment with an excellent team of supervisors, academic staff and a mentor. The Doctoral Education Programme is aimed at developing your transferable, discipline-related and research skills.

The TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package, discounts on health insurance and sport memberships, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged. For international applicants we offer the Coming to Delft Service and Partner Career Advice to assist you with your relocation.

Delft University of Technology is built on strong foundations. As creators of the world-famous Dutch waterworks and pioneers in biotech, TU Delft is a top international university combining science, engineering and design. It delivers world class results in education, research and innovation to address challenges in the areas of energy, climate, mobility, health and digital society. For generations, our engineers have proven to be entrepreneurial problem-solvers, both in business and in a social context.

At TU Delft we embrace diversity as one of our core values and we actively engage to be a university where you feel at home and can flourish. We value different perspectives and qualities. We believe this makes our work more innovative, the TU Delft community more vibrant and the world more just. Together, we imagine, invent and create solutions using technology to have a positive impact on a global scale. That is why we invite you to apply. Your application will receive fair consideration.

Challenge. Change. Impact!

With more than 1,000 employees, including 135 pioneering principal investigators, as well as a population of about 3,400 passionate students, the Faculty of Applied Sciences is an inspiring scientific ecosystem. Focusing on key enabling technologies, such as quantum- and nanotechnology, photonics, biotechnology, synthetic biology and materials for energy storage and conversion, our faculty aims to provide solutions to important problems of the 21st century. To that end, we train students in broad Bachelor's and specialist Master's programmes with a strong research component. Our scientists conduct ground-breaking fundamental and applied research in the fields of Life and Health Science & Technology, Nanoscience, Chemical Engineering, Radiation Science & Technology, and Engineering Physics. We are also training the next generation of high school teachers and science communicators.

Click here to go to the website of the Faculty of Applied Sciences.

For more information about this vacancy, please contact Dr. Ir. David Vermaas via .

For information about the selection procedure, please email .

Applications submitted by email cannot be considered. Please submit your application via the portal.

Are you interested in this vacancy? Please apply before 2 April 2023 via the application button and upload the following documents as PDF files:

  • A one-page motivation letter that is specific to this vacancy
  • A detailed CV
  • Contact information of at least 2 reference (name + e-mail)

The position will remain open until April 2, and we will already make a first selection of early candidates by mid-March. 

  • A pre-employment screening can be part of the selection procedure.
  • Applying for an exemption for specific research and educational areas is an obligatory part of the selection procedure for this vacancy. This exemption must be obtained from the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (OCW) before an employment contract is agreed upon. Click here for more information.
  • You can apply online. We will not process applications sent by email and/or post.
  • Acquisition in response to this vacancy is not appreciated.

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