PhD scholarship in Catalytic Hydrogenation of CO and CO2 to Methanol for Energy Storage Purposes (re-advertisement)

Thursday 08 Oct 20

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The CHEC research group at the Department of Chemical Engineering carries out research on catalysis and high temperature processes such as combustion, gasification and pyrolysis.

The gradual transition towards renewable energy sources necessitates new technologies for energy storage. One option is to store the energy in the form of chemicals by reacting CO2 emitted by local point sources with H2 produced from renewable energy via electrolysis. Here the production of methanol has a significant potential as a versatile liquid energy carrier, and it has been proposed that such a ‘methanol economy’ may play a vital part in the future society. While methanol synthesis from CO2 and H2 can be accomplished today with primarily Cu-based catalysts the existing processes require harsh reaction conditions (T > 473 K, P > 50 bar), but decentralized processes for energy storage purposes would benefit from being able to run at milder conditions. However, shifting the catalytic methanol production to milder conditions will require catalytic materials with higher activity at lower temperature. The methanol synthesis reaction is very sensitive to the metal-support combination, the types of catalytic sites generated by the catalyst synthesis procedure and to the reaction environment (i.e. the concentrations of H2, CO, CO2 and H2O). The purpose of this PhD-project is to develop improved methanol synthesis catalysts/process through an increased fundamental understanding of how these factors impact the catalytic activity. Particular emphasis will be on elucidating the extent of improvement that can be achieved when taking measures to ensure very dry reaction conditions to avoid any inhibition from the water produced in the reaction.

The PhD project is funded by the Villum Foundation Center for Science of Sustainable Fuels and Chemicals (V-SUSTAIN, grant 9455), and involves collaboration with several other DTU departments and foreign universities. 

Responsibilities and tasks

  • Chemical synthesis of catalytic materials by techniques such as impregnation and precipitation.
  • Measurements of catalytic activity at high pressure including product characterization by gas chromatography.
  • Kinetic modelling to analyse experimental results.
  • Characterization of catalytic materials by infrared spectroscopy, temperature programmed techniques and in situ measurements at synchrotron facilities.

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. 

Preference will be given to candidates with a master's degree in chemical engineering or a similar degree with an academic level equivalent to the master's degree in engineering. 

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 the DTU PhD Guide.  


The assessment of the applicants will be made by Associate Professor Jakob Munkholt Christensen and Professor Anker Degn Jensen

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.  

The workplace will be DTU Lyngby Campus.  

You can read more about career paths at DTU here.  

Further information

Further information may be obtained from Associate Professor Jakob Munkholt Christensen, +45 4525 2810 and Professor Anker Degn Jensen, +45 4525 2841, email:   

You can read more about Department of Chemical Engineering on

Please submit your online application no later than 22 October 2020 (local 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
  • Excel sheet with translation of grades to the Danish grading system (see guidelines and Excel spreadsheet here)

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. 

The CHEC Research Centre at DTU Chemical Engineering is internationally recognised for research in catalysis, combustion, gasification, pyrolysis and emission control.

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 12,000 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.