PhD position in the field of 'Assessment of the prospects of Synthetic Renewable Fuels (Solar Fuels)' (1,0 FTE)

The Faculty of Geosciences at Utrecht University needs a PhD position in the field of 'Assessment of the prospects of Synthetic Renewable Fuels (Solar Fuels). Are you interested? Then please read the full profile and ...

6 dagen geleden


Domplein, Utrecht, Utrecht
Tijdelijk contract / Tijdelijke opdracht
Uren per week:
38 - 38 uur
€ 2222 - € 2840 per maand


As part of the Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, the Energy and Resources (E&R) group aims at enabling the transition toward a decarbonized energy system through the development of knowledge, methods and by fostering interdisciplinary innovation.

Notably, the transition toward a sustainable energy system calls for the need for deeply decarbonizing our economy. Renewable technologies (in particular solar PV and Wind) are now reshaping the power sector. In parallel, the energy system is increasingly being electrified to reap the benefit of renewable electricity (e.g. electric transport). Soon, zero-carbon technologies will also need to start reshaping the other sectors of the energy economy which rely on hydrocarbon fuels for end-use energy services, notably (heavy) transport and (heavy) industry. To the extent that these sectors will continue to rely on hydrocarbons, the challenge ahead is to make these fuels carbon-neutral. However, if such technologies are to be designed and developed with a proper view towards sustainability, it is essential to carry out technology assessments at an early stage. Uncertainties and data gaps, parallel changes and developments in other technologies and products that will be linked with the analysed technology in the life cycle context. Different physical, chemical and or biological properties, are all factors that need to be coherently evaluated.

The position is part of a project carried out together with the University of Eindhoven, sponsored by Shell, and set up in conjunction with a large programme on Solar-to-Products carried out by the Dutch Science Foundation NWO. Within this larger setting, Utrecht University will develop and test a framework for comparison of Solar-to-Products technologies on cost and environmental performance, derive targets for these, and identify the most critical parameter(s) for their further development. Specific technology input and case study material will come from the NWO programme which will run simultaneously. The research group at UU has pioneered an approach to such ex ante technology assessment, which will be brought to bear on this project, and further developed. The group at Eindhoven has extensive experience in (conceptual) reactor engineering analysis and specialized knowledge of carbon capture technologies.


We are looking for a candidate with a proven background in energy systems supported by strong knowledge of mathematics and thermodynamics. The PhD student at UU will be responsible for the techno-economic analysis and the life cycle assessment (LCA) of the different Solar-to-Products cases. This activity will include the development of new and existing mathematical instruments as well as their application to the cases of interest. Finally, the candidate will be asked to write scientific reports, to publish scientific articles, and to disseminate project results at conferences and workshop. The candidate will collaborate with other members of the project team as well as with other researchers in the Energy & Resources group of the Copernicus Institute. Also, a small contribution to the teaching effort of the E&R group, e.g. by supervising MSc students in course and for their MSc thesis, will be required for about 5-10% of the time.

The following qualifications are expected:

  1. The candidate holds a MSc or MEng degree in the areas of energy, chemical or environmental science/engineering, energy systems or a related field.
  2. Previous knowledge in ex-ante technology assessment, including process and economic analysis, would be valuable.
  3. Excellent English skills (written and oral) are required.
  4. The candidate should have a proven record that he/she can work both independently and as part of a team.

The position is for four years, covering the full PhD position. The candidate is expected to start in the fall of 2017.

PhD promotor: Prof. Dr. Gert Jan Kramer

PhD co-promotor: Dr. Matteo Gazzani


The successful candidate will be offered a full-time PhD student position for one year, with the intention to extend the contract to four years if the performance is satisfactory. Employment conditions are based on the Collective Labour Agreement of the Dutch Universities. Based on the experience and qualifications of the candidate, the gross monthly salary is between € 2,222- and € 2,840.- (salary scale Ph.D.’s) on a full-time basis (38 hours per week). The salary is supplemented by a holiday allowance of 8% per year and an end-of-year bonus of 8.3%. We offer a pension scheme, collective insurance schemes and flexible employment conditions. You'll find more information about Working at Utrecht University here.

Additional information

Applications should include a motivation letter, a statement of your research interests and relevant experience, curriculum vitae and bachelor + master grades, and the name of at least one referee (with email contact addresses and phone numbers).


A better future for everyone. This ambition motivates our scientists in executing their leading research and inspiring teaching. At Utrecht University, the various disciplines collaborate intensively towards major societal themes. Our focus is on Dynamics of Youth, Institutions for Open Societies, Life Sciences and Sustainability.

Utrecht University has been ranked first nationally in the 2017 Academic Ranking of World Universities, and 47th globally. The University is committed to a strategies orientation on four overarching themes, which include ‘Sustainability’ and ‘Institutions’. The city of Utrecht is one of the oldest cities in the Netherlands, with a charming old center and an internationally oriented culture that is strongly influenced by its century-old university. Utrecht city has been consistently ranked as one of the most liveable cities in the Netherlands.

Utrecht University’s Faculty of Geosciences offers education and research concerning the geosphere, biosphere, atmosphere and anthroposphere. With a population of 2,500 students (BSc and MSc) and 600 staff, the faculty is a strong and challenging organization.

The faculty is organized in four departments: Earth Sciences; Physical Geography; Innovation, Environmental & Energy Sciences (IIES), and Human Geography & Urban & Regional Planning. Energy and Resources, part of the Department of Innovation, Environmental & Energy Sciences, offers an enthusiastic, dynamic working environment and the research is of scientific high quality. The research is relevant for industrial stakeholders and governments in the national and international arena.


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