3 PhD positions on gas-evolving electrodes for sustainable fuels production Delft University of Technology, Faculty Mechanical, Maritime and Materials Engineering Netherlands

3 PhD positions on gas-evolving electrodes for sustainable fuels production

Department/faculty: Faculty Mechanical, Maritime and Materials Engineering

Level: University Graduate

Working hours: 38.0 hours weekly

Contract: 4 years

Salary: 2325 - 2972 euros monthly (full-time basis)

Faculty Mechanical, Maritime and Materials Engineering


The 3mE Faculty trains committed engineering students, PhD candidates and post-doctoral researchers in groundbreaking scientific research in the fields of mechanical, maritime and materials engineering. 3mE is the epitome of a dynamic, innovative faculty, with a European scope that contributes demonstrable economic and social benefits.

The Department of Process and Energy (P&E) focuses on process and energy technology in a mechanical engineering context, meaning that a process or energy conversion is part of an apparatus. We envision that in the coming decades a transition from fossil/conventional energy conversion towards full electrification will take place in society. Our objective is to develop processes supporting this transition by making existing processes more efficient and developing novel green technologies that use electricity as a primary energy source to produce heavy transportation fuels and bulk chemicals. Continuum fluids are the common denominator, either as a process material, carrier, or solvent, or as a medium through which a transport, separation, or chemical process is carried out.

The first position will be jointly supervised by Prof. Johan Padding from the P&E section Complex Fluid Processing. The other positions are in the P&E section Energy Technology. Where beneficial, collaboration will be sought with the excellent research community in Delft working on similar topics, see for example: https://www.tudelft.nl/e-refinery.

Job description
The large-scale carbon neutral production of ‘solar’ fuels and base chemicals like hydrogen and syngas, ammonia, and methanol using only renewable electricity, water, and air will play a pivotal role in the transition towards a sustainable energy system. This can be done efficiently in electrochemical reactors, similar to electrolysers, fuel cells, and redox flow batteries.

The aim of these PhD projects is to make a step in our quantitative understanding of the evolution of gasses inside porous electrodes, including the effect of liquid flows. These gases may be the desired products, but their presence can also adversely impact the performance.

The PhD positions focus on, respectively:
1) The pore level: using advanced 3D multiphysics simulations in COMSOL and in-house code. Based on the continuum Poisson-Nernst-Planck equations, often overlooked electrokinetic effects as well as bubble nucleation and evolution will be included. By contributing to ongoing and future PhD projects there will be ample opportunity to be involved in various applications.

2) The electrode level: using a powerful combination of multiscale simulations, experiments, and imaging for optimal understanding. The important effect of gas bubbles on the energy losses is the primary concern in this project, which focuses on hydrogen production through alkaline electrolysis. There are already various experimental efforts ongoing in this direction that can be benefited from.

3) The cell level: the electrochemical conversion of CO2 is a promising avenue for sustainable production of liquid hydrocarbons. The efficiency of this process can be strongly improved using properly applied liquid flows. Using hydrodynamic understanding, prototyping, and physical and possibly microkinetic modeling, an optimized state-of-the art overall design is the goal of this PhD research.

Common to all projects are (multiphase) fluid dynamics, physical transport phenomena, and some electrochemistry. Depending on the project and the background of the candidate, part of these topics may be learnt or refined during the course of the PhD. Given the multi-disciplinary nature and societal relevance, these projects are expected to provide a challenging but stimulating and rewarding learning experience.


We are looking for highly motivated and assertive candidates with a sharp mind for critical and creative thinking and good communication skills in English.

An MSc in an applied science or an engineering discipline like applied physics or mathematics, mechanical-, aerospace-, or chemical engineering or equivalent is required as well as a proven affinity with and skill for mathematical and computational modelling or experimental skills respectively, depending on the position applied for.


Conditions of employment
TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package, a discount for health insurance and sport memberships, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged. An International Children’s Centre offers childcare and an international primary school. Dual Career Services offers support to accompanying partners. Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities.

As a PhD candidate you will be enrolled in the TU Delft Graduate School. TU Delft Graduate School provides an inspiring research environment; an excellent team of supervisors, academic staff and a mentor; and a Doctoral Education Programme aimed at developing your transferable, discipline-related and research skills. Please visit http://www.tudelft.nl/phd for more information.


Information and application
For information about this vacancy, you can contact Willem Haverkort, email: J.W.Haverkort@tudelft.nl, tel.: +31 152786651.


To apply, please e-mail a motivation letter, a detailed CV and the names and contact details of three or more references before April 1st 2019 to J.W.Haverkort@tudelft.nl. Please clearly indicate your preference, if any, for projects 1, 2, or 3.

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