PhD Candidate in Complete Subsea Separation – Theoretical and Experimental Control

Updated: 3 months ago
Deadline: 06 Jul 2023

6th July 2023

  • English

Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering has a vacancy for a
PhD Candidate in Complete Subsea Separation – Theoretical and Experimental Control
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At NTNU, 9,000 employees and 43,000 students work to create knowledge for a better world.

You will find more information about working at NTNU and the application process here.



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About the job

For a position as a PhD Candidate, the goal is a completed doctoral education up to an obtained doctoral degree.

Oil wells produce substantial amounts of water; on the Norwegian Continental Shelf the water cut can be 80 to 90%. The removal and treatment of produced water is both a major expense and a major source of emissions.

One method of handling the produced water that is still in its infancy is subsea separation; instead of moving the fluids at least several hundred meters to the surface and treating it there, it can be treated subsea, which will reduce both emissions and costs.

NTNU has dedicated significant research and laboratory facilities into investigating this problem, both on the bulk separation side and the water treatment side. This project aims to develop a complete subsea separation concept, building upon and expanding this previous knowledge. The end goal is a complete subsea separation system concept, where the water stream is pure enough to discharge or re-inject for disposal or pressure support.

In this project, you will merge two existing separation/water treatment laboratories into one complete separation facility. You will study the behavior of this system and design an optimal control strategy both in simulation and in the laboratory. This will allow for optimal behavior of the entire system, with the controllers working in tandem rather than at cross purposes to ensure that the maximum amount of water is extracted from the fluid stream while maintaining sufficient purity of the water output for re-injection or discharge to sea.

You will work as a part of the multidisciplinary research center SUBPRO-Zero (SUstainable Bridge PROgram towards Zero emissions) , that has the mission to conduct fundamental and applied research to contribute to net-zero emissions in the offshore industry. Industrial partners include Neptune Energy, Equinor, Aker BP, Total Energies, Vår Energi, Aker Solutions and Kongsberg Digital.

Your immediate leader is Associate Professor Christian Holden

Duties of the position
  • construct (with the help of specialists) a complete subsea separation system
  • create mathematical, dynamic models of the complete subsea separation system
  • develop optimal control scheme(s) for the complete subsea separation system, with a focus on maximizing the removal of water while maintaining system constraints, chiefly emissions limits
  • test the control scheme(s) in simulation and in laboratory experiments
  • analyse the results and improve the scheme(s) as needed
  • perform your research independent and under guidance, and in small groups
  • perform literature review(s) on the topics of research
  • collaborate with experts and fellow PhD students
  • write and publish results of research at high-level peer-reviewed conferences and journals
  • pass 30 ECTS credits of PhD-level or high-level university courses
  • write a PhD thesis and defend it in front of a committee of experts

Required selection criteria
  • you must have a professionally relevant background in subsea technology, petroleum technology, chemical engineering, control theory and cybernetics, applied mathematics, or similar
  • you must have knowledge of at least one of the following topics: separation and/or water treatment, process control, control theory/cybernetics, fluid mechanics, or mathematical modeling
  • your education must correspond to a five-year Norwegian degree program, where 120 credits are obtained at master's level
  • you must have a strong academic background from your previous studies and an average grade from the master's degree program, or equivalent education, which is equal to B or better compared with NTNU's grading scale. If you do not have letter grades from previous studies, you must have an equally good academic basis. If you have a weaker grade background, you may be assessed if you can document that you are particularly suitable for a PhD education.
  • master's students can apply, but the master's degree must be obtained and documented by 19. August 2024
  • you must meet the requirements for admission to the faculty's doctoral program 
  • you must have practical experience with laboratory and experimental work
  • you must have good written and oral English language skills

The appointment is to be made in accordance with Regulations on terms of employment for positions such as postdoctoral fellow, Phd candidate, research assistant and specialist candidate and Regulations concerning the degrees of Philosophiae Doctor (PhD) and Philosodophiae Doctor (PhD) in artistic research national guidelines for appointment as PhD, post doctor and research assistant 

Preferred selection criteria
  • in-depth knowledge of separation and/or water treatment
  • in-depth knowledge of process control
  • in-depth knowledge of control theory and cybernetics
  • in-depth knowledge of fluid mechanics
  • in-depth knowledge of mathematical modeling
  • extensive practical experience with designing and building laboratory facilities
  • solid background in programming
  • good written and oral Norwegian language skills

Personal characteristics
  • motivated and able to engage in theoretical and practical research and interdisciplinary collaboration
  • communication and networking skills
  • proactive and forthcoming and be able to work independently if needed
  • creative, with a solid ability to work problem oriented
  • enjoy interdisciplinary research with a passion for learning and discovery

Emphasis will be placed on personal and interpersonal qualities.

We offer
  • exciting and stimulating tasks in a strong international academic environment
  • an open and inclusive work environment with dedicated colleagues
  • favourable terms in the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund
  • employee benefits

Salary and conditions

As a PhD candidate (code 1017) you are normally paid from gross NOK 532 200 per annum before tax, depending on qualifications and seniority. From the salary, 2% is deducted as a contribution to the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund.

The period of employment is 3 years.
Appointment to a PhD position requires that you are admitted to the PhD programme in Engineering  within three months of employment, and that you participate in an organized PhD programme during the employment period.


The engagement is to be made in accordance with the regulations in force concerning State Employees and Civil Servants , and the acts relating to Control of the Export of Strategic Goods, Services and Technology. Candidates who by assessment of the application and attachment are seen to conflict with the criteria in the latter law will be prohibited from recruitment to NTNU. After the appointment you must assume that there may be changes in the area of work.

The position is subject to external funding.

It is a prerequisite you can be present at and accessible to the institution daily.

About the application

The application and supporting documentation to be used as the basis for the assessment must be in English.

Publications and other scientific work must follow the application. Please note that your application will be considered based solely on information submitted by the application deadline. You must therefore ensure that your application clearly demonstrates how your skills and experience fulfil the criteria specified above.

The application must include: 

  • CV and certificates
  • transcripts and diplomas for bachelor's and master's degrees. If you have not completed the master's degree, you must submit a confirmation that the master's thesis has been submitted.
  • a copy of the master's thesis. If you recently have submitted your master's thesis, you can attach a draft of the thesis. Documentation of a completed master's degree must be presented before taking up the position
  • name and contact information of three referees
  • if you have publications or other relevant research work

If all, or parts, of your education has been taken abroad, we also ask you to attach documentation of the scope and quality of your entire education, both bachelor's and master's education, in addition to other higher education. Description of the documentation required can be found here . If you already have a statement from NOKUT, please attach this as well.

We will take joint work into account. If it is difficult to identify your efforts in the joint work, you must enclose a short description of your participation.

In the evaluation of which candidate is best qualified, emphasis will be placed on education, experience and personal and interpersonal qualities. Motivation, ambitions, and potential will also count in the assessment of the candidates. 

NTNU is committed to following evaluation criteria for research quality according to The San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment - DORA.

General information

Working at NTNU

NTNU believes that inclusion and diversity is our strength. We want to recruit people with different competencies, educational backgrounds, life experiences and perspectives to contribute to solving our social responsibilities within education and research. We will facilitate for our employees’ needs.

NTNU is working actively to increase the number of women employed in scientific positions and has a number of resources to promote equality.  


The city of Trondheim is a modern European city with a rich cultural scene. Trondheim is the innovation capital of Norway with a population of 200,000. The Norwegian welfare state, including healthcare, schools, kindergartens and overall equality, is probably the best of its kind in the world. Professional subsidized day-care for children is easily available. Furthermore, Trondheim offers great opportunities for education (including international schools) and possibilities to enjoy nature, culture and family life and has low crime rates and clean air quality.


As an employee at NTNU, you must at all times adhere to the changes that the development in the subject entails and the organizational changes that are adopted.

A public list of applicants with name, age, job title and municipality of residence is prepared after the application deadline. If you want to reserve yourself from entry on the public applicant list, this must be justified. Assessment will be made in accordance with current legislation . You will be notified if the reservation is not accepted.

If you have any questions about the position, please contact Associate Professor Christian Holden, telephone +47 99618881, email If you have any questions about the recruitment process, please contact HR Consultant Linn-Cecilie Felle Brattheim, e-mail:

If you think this looks interesting and in line with your qualifications, please submit your application electronically via with your CV, diplomas and certificates attached. Applications submitted elsewhere will not be considered. Upon request, you must be able to obtain certified copies of your documentation.  

Application deadline: 06.07.2023

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NTNU - knowledge for a better world

NTNU - knowledge for a better world

The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) creates knowledge for a better world and solutions that can change everyday life.


Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering

We educate graduates who can create new products, operate and maintain products, and manage projects. The Department has a variety of bachelor’s and master’s degree programmes. We conduct wide-ranging research in fields such as technology, energy, product quality and development, and productivity. The Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering is one of eight departments in the Faculty of Engineering.

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6th July 2023


NTNU - Norwegian University of Science and Technology




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