PhD scholarship in testing lifetime of solid oxide electrolysis cells

DTU Energy

The Department of Energy Conversion and Storage, Technical University of Denmark (DTU), invites applications for a PhD scholarship in developing new test methodologies for performance and liftetime evaluation of solid oxide electrolysis cells.

The research project is part of the project “Compass” targeting improving SOEC technology in general. The project is funded by Innovation Fund Denmark and the particular project will be carried out in a collaboration between DTU Energy and the Danish company Haldor Topsøe.  

Transforming our society to rely only on sustainable energy sources is a formidable engineering challenge. Key to success will be development of cost competitive and reliable routes to produce hydrogen via electrolysis of water/steam driven by green electricity. The hydrogen can be used as a fuel in itself or serve as a reactant for production of fuels like methanol, kerosene or even ammonia.  Solid oxide electrolysis is one of several different electrolysis technologies, which holds merits in terms of high efficiency and potential to reach low cost. Improving cell lifetime compared to state of the art today will further enhance the chances of widespread use. In this endeavor, reliable and accurate methods for characterizing the electrochemical performance of the cells and stacks are crucial. 

Responsibilities and qualifications
The successful candidate will work on developing and improving experimental methods for characterising the electrochemical performance of electrodes, cells and stacks of cells. Improving control of the level of impurities in the feed streams and developing fixtures allowing rapid thermal cycling are key tasks. The purpose being, to be able to identify the role of gas-phase impurities for overall cell lifetime and to be able to explore in detail any detrimental effects on reliability of thermal gradients during operation.

Key tasks will be 

  • Characterisation of state of the art cells and identifying the role of impurities for the degradation processes and overall lifetime.
  • To develop methods for assessing accurately the impacts of leaks and pressure difference occurring under operation (e.g. at stack level) and identifying what are the tolerable limits for these.
  • To develop novel cell test houses/fixtures allowing rapid thermal cycling of the cells and collection of the off-gases. 
  • To develop test fixtures and gas-feed strategies enabling accurate control of exposure to impurities (Sulphur, Si, alkali-elements,..)

You will work together in a team with colleagues doing detailed modelling of the tests and materials specialists for developing improved materials and designs with greater tolerance towards impurities and stresses arising from pressure gradients and thermal gradients.

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

  • You are expected to spend at least 3 months at a foreign research institution
  • 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, mechanical 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;

  • Design and construction of equipment
  • Experimental characterization of chemical reaction kinetics
  • Materials characterization
  • Heterogeneous catalysis and/or electrochemistry

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.

Your application will be assessed by Dr. Xiufu Sun 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 Dr. Xiufu Sun ( Please do not send applications to this e-mail address, instead apply online as described below.

You can read more DTU Energy at

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.

Please submit your online application no later than Friday, 8 July 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

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.