PhD scholarship in novel routes to ammonia

DTU Energy

The Department of Energy Conversion and Storage, Technical University of Denmark (DTU), invites applications for a PhD scholarship in characterisation of new electro-catalysts enabling electrochemically driven ammonia synthesis.

The research project is part of the project “Progress” recently funded by the Independent Research Fund Denmark. The project involves collaboration with Copenhagen University,  Max Planck Institute in Germany and University of Lund, Sweden.  

Transforming our society to rely only on sustainable energy sources is a massive challenge. Key to success will be development of cost competitive routes to produce hydrogen via electrolysis of water/steam driven by green electricity. The hydrogen has value in itself but  may, importantly, also serve as a reactant for production of ammonia. Ammonia has great importance as a fertilizer, but can also be an “energy vector” enabling emission reduction from “hard to electrify” sectors like global shipping. Hence, cost competitive routes to “green hydrogen” and “green ammonia”, not relying on use of natural gas, is in high demand.

The ambition in “Progress” is to facilitate integration of the hydrogen production step and the ammonia synthesis step to enable an efficient route to ammonia driven only by electrical energy. If the solid oxide cell applied is a proton conducting ceramic, controlling the potential and current allows control of the hydrogen activity at the electrode surface. It is the hypothesis behind the project that careful control of this and possibly cycling it may enable an overall more efficient process.

In parallel with the experimental endeavors, which is the core of the announced Ph.D. project, the project involves a modelling effort carried out at Copenhagen University to describe the kinetics of the electrode reaction.    

Responsibilities and qualifications
The successful candidate will work on suggesting and characterising new materials for the cell cathode – both for the electrochemical active phase and for possible catalysts to be added. The work will involve development of cell architectures that can enable a study of reaction intermediates during operation (e.g. XPS, Raman) the overall purpose being to identify the rate limiting steps of the reaction.

Key tasks will be:

  • Synthesis of candidate materials and characterisation of their fundamental charge transport and catalytic properties.
  • Preparation of electrodes and electrochemical characterisation of performance.
  • Developing tailor made electrode/cell-geometries that enables study of the reaction in operando (via e.g. Raman or XPS). 

You will collaborate with colleagues in the section for Solid State Electrochemistry doing materials synthesis and cell characterisation as well as with the colleagues from Copenhagen University in charge of the modelling efforts in the project.

As part of the PhD education, you will follow courses and assist in teaching activities

  • You are expected to spend at least 3 months abroad at one of the partnering institutions listed above,
  • You will disseminate your work in international peer reviewed journals and at professional conferences.

Candidates should have a two-year master's degree (120 ECTS points) or a similar degree with an academic level equivalent to a two-year master's degree.

We favour candidates with a degree in chemical engineering, chemistry, materials science, physics or a similar degree with an academic level equivalent to a master's degree in engineering. Experience with one or more of the following areas is considered an advantage;

  • Heterogeneous catalysis and/or electrochemistry
  • Experimental characterization of chemical reaction kinetics
  • Materials synthesis and characterization
  • Raman, XPS, Electron microscopy.

Moreover, the successful candidate

  • is innovative and able to work in cross-disciplinary teams
  • has good communication skills in English, both written and spoken
  • is able to work independently and take responsibility for the progress and quality of projects.

Approval and Enrolment
The scholarship for the PhD degree is subject to academic approval, and the candidate will be enrolled in one of the general degree programmes at DTU. For information about our enrolment requirements and the general planning of the PhD study programme, please see DTU's rules for the PhD education.

Assessment
Your application will be assessed by Dr. Wolff-Ragnar Kiebach and Dr. Peter Vang Hendriksen. 

We offer
DTU is a leading technical university globally recognized for the excellence of its research, education, innovation and scientific advice. We offer a rewarding and challenging job in an international environment. We strive for academic excellence in an environment characterized by collegial respect and academic freedom tempered by responsibility.

Salary and appointment terms
The appointment will be based on the collective agreement with the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations. The allowance will be agreed upon with the relevant union. The period of employment is 3 years.

You can read more about career paths at DTU here.

Further information
Further information may be obtained from Peter V. Hendriksen (pvhe@dtu.dk). Please do not send applications to this e-mail address, instead apply online as described below.

You can read more DTU Energy at www.energy.dtu.dk

If you are applying from abroad, you may find useful information on working in Denmark and at DTU at DTU – Moving to Denmark. Furthermore, you have the option of joining our monthly free seminar “PhD relocation to Denmark and startup “Zoom” seminar” for all questions regarding the practical matters of moving to Denmark and working as a PhD at DTU.

Application
Please submit your online application no later than Friday, 2 September 2022 (Danish time).

Applications must be submitted as one PDF file containing all materials to be given consideration. To apply, please open the link "Apply online", fill out the online application form, and attach all your materials in English in one PDF file. The file must include:

  • A letter motivating the application (cover letter)
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Grade transcripts and BSc/MSc diploma (in English) including official description of grading scale

Candidates may apply prior to ob­tai­ning their master's degree but cannot begin before having received it.

Applications and enclosures received after the deadline will not be considered.

All interested candidates irrespective of age, gender, race, disability, religion or ethnic background are encouraged to apply.

DTU Energy
The Department of Energy Conversion and Storage is focusing on functional materials and their application in sustainable energy technology. Our research areas include fuel cells, electrolysis, polymer solar cells, magnetic refrigeration, superconductivity, thermoelectrics, sustainable synthetic fuels, and batteries. The Department, which has more than 200 employees, was founded in 2012. Additional information about the department can be found on www.energy.dtu.dk

Technology for people
DTU develops technology for people. With our international elite research and study programmes, we are helping to create a better world and to solve the global challenges formulated in the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Hans Christian Ørsted founded DTU in 1829 with a clear vision to develop and create value using science and engineering to benefit society. That vision lives on today. DTU has 13,400 students and 5,800 employees. We work in an international atmosphere and have an inclusive, evolving, and informal working environment. DTU has campuses in all parts of Denmark and in Greenland, and we collaborate with the best universities around the world.