PhD/postdoc position: Numerical modeling of plasmas for methane conversion at the Faculty of Science Engineering, Department Circular Chemical Engineering

Updated: about 2 months ago
Deadline: 27 Oct 2021


The chemical industry urgently needs to cut its CO2 emissions. Electrification will reduce emissions from processes by powering them with renewable electricity in place of fossil fuels. Circular processes will reuse valuable resources (e.g. plastics), and in doing so will cut end-of-life emissions and reduce resource depletion rates. We research novel plasma technologies to facilitate both electrification and circular processes for the chemical industry. In future, industry expects to have an environmentally sustainable source of methane, which can be most effectively valorized via upgrading to ethylene; a crucial feedstock in the production of plastics. However, methane-to-ethylene conversion is notoriously difficult, as it a strongly endothermic reaction with highly complex chemistry. Thermal plasma technology is a promising approach for methane to ethylene conversion as it allows the possibility for high efficiency, excellent reactant conversion, and refined product selectivity.

Plasma chemistry modelling is extremely challenging. This is due to the high number of species (electron, ions, radicals, molecules) and their reactions and dynamics, which occur over multiple time and length scales. Gas heating, transport, and electromagnetic power coupling also need to be incorporated. Additionally, consideration of the non-equilibrium between electrons and other species is critical; requiring specific methodologies to describe electron kinetics. The project aim is to develop a plasma model to simulate plasma driven reforming of methane.


The successful candidate is expected to perform numerical simulations to evaluate chemical and physical processes occurring in methane plasma discharges. You will work independently to develop code, collect, analyze, and evaluate results and compare them with experimental measurements. Code validation and characterization with respect to numerical and physical parameters is also an essential part of the job.

You will join a small team working on experiments and numerical models. We expect that you will regularly discuss, share, and present your work with fellow team members, colleagues, and wider audiences at international conferences. We expect you will write a number of high-quality scientific articles. For the PhD position, such articles shall ultimately culminate in your PhD thesis.

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