Two PhDs in Technology development for ch4 removal from the atmosphere

Updated: 22 days ago
Deadline: 11 Sep 2022

The European Union (EU) aims to achieve climate neutrality by 2050. The Sixth Assessment Report of the IPCC Report  has clearly highlighted the role of non-CO2 greenhouse gases in the transition to a climate positive society, and their associated contribution and effects on global warming. Non-CO2  greenhouse gases are responsible for 28% of total anthropogenic emissions, of which CH4  (16%) and N2 O (6%) are major contributors. In any scenario where the global average temperature rise is limited to 1-1.9 °C by the end of 2100, these emissions must be significantly reduced (>50%). However, these gases are hard to abate due to their diverse and inherently distributed sources (with concentration <1%-vol), for example the agricultural sector (livestock and farming), which is the main source of anthropogenic CH4  emissions. Moreover, their very low concentrations in the atmosphere (ppb or ppm level) make the recovery particularly challenging. On the other hand, mitigating these gases can significantly accelerate the transition towards a net-zero greenhouse gas EU economy by 2050, and achieve sustainable negative emissions thereafter.
In this context, the EU project REPAIR  will develop first-of-its kind technological proof-of-concept to remove non-CO2  gases like CH4  and N2 O from diluted sources, including from the atmosphere. Two process routes are proposed:

  • (i) capture, concentration and storage/conversion;
  • (ii) direct catalytic conversion.

In the project, experimental work will be coupled to theoretical and modelling activities, ranging from reactor to system level and including technical, economical, and societal analysis. The project also aims at identifying the plausibility of upscaling the technologies in real conditions considering technological, environmental, economic, social and policy compatibility.

Within this project context, two research teams of Utrecht University and TU Eindhoven are looking for two PhD candidates. Both positions will focus on the first separation route described above, i.e. capture, concentration and storage/conversion of the non-CO2  GHG gases, and will tackle the problem from a technical, engineering perspective ranging from reactor to system level; while one position will be at TU/e and one at Utrecht University, both candidates will closely work with both research groups at the two institutes in a joint team effort. In more details:

  • Position one will be embedded in the Sustainable Process Engineering group at TU/e (under the supervision of Prof. Gallucci, Dr. Gazzani and Dr. Di Felice) and will involve experimental and modelling research at reactor level. Relevant activities will include: sorbents screening and preparation for CH4  separation/concentration, acquisition of experimental kinetic and thermodynamic data, design and (long-term) operation of a fixed-bed proof-of-concept for CH4  separation, reactor and process scale modelling, model validation and performance prediction.
  • Position two will be embedded in the Energy & Resources group at Utrecht University (under the supervision of Dr. Gazzani and Prof. Kramer) and will involve: conceptual reactor and process development for large-scale deployment including conventional and advanced reactor configurations, process and energy system design and optimization, evaluation of opportunistic integration with CO2  removal from air (DAC), techno-economic evaluation of the optimal processes.

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