Postdoc on Fundamental Understanding of Electrolytic H2 Evolution in Alkaline Environment

Monday 21 Dec 20

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We seek a 2-year Postdoc to carry out research on the fundamental understanding of the H2 evolution reaction (HER) in alkaline environment (AE) by means of in-operando X-ray Photoelectron/Absorption Spectroscopy (XPS/XAS).

The Section of Electrochemistry at DTU Energy carries out research on electrochemical conversion and storage technologies, such as fuel cells, electrolysis cells, flow batteries, and novel types of electrochemical cells for power to X. Our research spans from fundamental understanding of electrochemical materials and processes to fabrication of lab scale components and devices and testing using advanced electrochemical characterization methods and test stations. We work in close collaboration with other Sections within the Department of Energy Conversion and Storage, expanding our capacity for materials processing, microstructural characterization, and modelling.

Electrolysis is a key technology for transitioning to a 100% sustainable energy system, as it both enables cost effective and large scale storage of intermittent renewable electricity and provides the means for the production of sustainable fuels and chemicals. Alkaline electrolysis is the most mature and low cost amongst electrolysis technologies, but requires a boost in efficiency and production rate to further lower the price of hydrogen produced to a level that can compete with fossil fuel derived hydrogen. Understanding and fine-tuning the kinetics for HER in alkaline environment is expected to contribute greatly in this direction, and forms the main goal of this PostDoc project.

Responsibilities and tasks
At DTU Energy we are developing electrocatalysts, electrodes, and membranes for advanced alkaline electrolysis cells. We do so by striving for fundamental understanding of the underlying processes that will help guide progress in a rational manner.

This is the philosophy underpinning also this PostDoc project, where we aspire to expand the traditional approach of electrocatalyst development to incorporate also the influence of the electrolyte on the electrified solid-liquid interface. With the help from our international collaborators at Juelich, Germany we will develop and employ novel operando synchrotron X-ray spectro-electrochemical tools to reveal new knobs that can be tuned to control ion transfer and optimize the adsorption strength of key reaction intermediates, leading to improved HER kinetics in AE.

  • You will be responsible for the design, commissioning, and qualification of a flow cell holder customized for the needs of surface sensitive XPS/XAS measurements under accurate electrochemical control.
  • You will carry out detailed electrochemical characterization of selected metal and metal-alloy catalysts in AE, with emphasis on HER kinetics.
  • You will design and carry out operando spectro-electrochemical experiments in synchrotron X-ray beamlines using the developed flow cell holder. This will include the fabrication and characterization of model thin film electrodes using appropriate physical and chemical deposition routes.
  • You will work in close collaboration with our partners from Peter Gruenberg Institute 6 at Juelich, Germany who will guide the flow cell holder development and synchrotron X-ray work, based on their expertise in developing state-of-the-art electron spectroscopy instrumentation as operators of both soft and hard X-ray beamlines at three synchrotron facilities; BESSY II, ELETTRA, and DESY.
  • You will be required to travel to Germany and other synchrotron facilities in relation to the flow cell holder development and to carry out actual experiments.
  • Your PostDoc position is embedded within a larger project, including also a PhD student who will start at approx. the same time as you and carry out research on a closely related topic. The project will also benefit from interactions with the Theoretical inorganic chemistry group (Teoroo) at Uppsala University, who are exploring the dynamic phenomena occurring at the electrified solid-liquid interface through multiscale simulations.
  • Your work will built upon a broad knowledge base on electrochemistry and specialized holder design in the Department, and benefit from our well-equipped and diverse labs and a spirit of knowledge sharing and collaboration within the Department.
  • You are expected to take a leading role in the scientific and practical gearing of your project, proposing the most appropriate way forward, establishing an action and time plan in line with the overall project timeline, and coordinating the required work in the most efficient and productive way possible.

Qualifications
Candidates should have a PhD degree or equivalent in e.g. Physics, Materials Science, or Physical Chemistry.

As an appropriate candidate you are:

  • Highly motivated and enthusiastic about the research topic
  • Responsible, sincere, and forthcoming
  • Driven by challenges, forward looking, and pro-active
  • Able to work independently as well as within a team
  • Excited to be part of a dynamic multi-disciplinary group
  • Able to plan and carry out complicated tasks, and to pursue parallel paths
  • Able to accommodate in your planning time boundaries imposed by the overall project goals
  • Good at communicating and reporting your work in both written and spoken English

Documented experience in one or more of the following specific areas is required:

  • Advanced electrochemical characterization methods
  • Design and commissioning of electrochemical testing infrastructure
  • Alkaline electrolysis cells or other type of electrochemical cells employing liquid electrolytes
  • Physical/Chemical deposition, Electron microscopy, X-ray diffraction, Raman spectroscopy, and other advanced structural and chemical analysis techniques

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 terms of employment
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 2 years.

You can read more about career paths at DTU here.

Further information
Further information may be obtained from:

Senior Scientist Christodoulos Chatzichristodoulou; ccha@dtu.dk, tel.: +45 21325057

Head of Section Lars Nilausen Cleemann; lncl@dtu.dk

You can read more about the Department of Energy Conversion and Storage at www.energy.dtu.dk/english

Application procedure
Please submit your online application no later than 10 February 2021 (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:

  • Application (cover letter)
  • CV
  • Diploma (MSc/PhD)
  • List of publications

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

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

The Department of Energy Conversion and Storage is focused on education, research, and development within functional materials and their application in sustainable energy technologies. In a sustainable energy system a large part of the energy will be supplied by fluctuating sources such as solar and wind power. This makes it critically important to be able to convert and store the energy as needed. The researchers in the Department of Energy Conversion and Storage work on technologies and materials for direct conversion and subsequent storage of different forms of energy.

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 11,500 students and 6,000 employees. We work in an international atmosphere and have an inclusive, evolving, and informal working environment. Our main campus is in Kgs. Lyngby north of Copenhagen and we have campuses in Roskilde and Ballerup and in Sisimiut in Greenland.