PhD scholarship in Catalytic Upgrading of the SkyClean Bio-Oil for High Quality Fuels

mandag 19 jul 21

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Frist 9. august 2021
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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 PhD scholarship is a part of the SkyClean project funded by EUDP. The project combines updraft-pyrolysis of waste biomass and catalytic processes to create a flexible and innovative system at pilot and demonstration scale for sustainable fuel production. The vision is to provide a system that from a variety of biomass feedstocks is capable of delivering stable, storable, high energy density products (bio-char, bio-oil and bio-methane). The coupling of the technologies are novel and needs to be studied and realized in order to achieve an economically feasible solution.

The goal of the PhD project is to develop key operation parameters for a 0.2 MW pyrolysis pilot plant in order to optimize its output of bio-oil for fuel production and biochar for soil carbon sequestration and to develop a process and demonstrate in bench scale, that high quality liquid transportation fuels can be produced from upgrading biomass pyrolysis vapors.

Responsibilities and tasks
Pilot plant operation:

  • An existing 0.2 MW updraft pyrolysis plant at Risø near Roskilde will be used for the study. 
  • Different biomass feedstocks of pelletized waste materials will be tested and it is expected that the pyrolysis process will need to be adjusted and mapped for each feedstock.
  • Optimal parameters in the pyrolysis process and the condensation unit for an optimal bio-oil yield will be identified for each of the input materials considering both oil quantity and quality in relation to the downstream catalytic upgrading process and without compromising the biochar quality that has to apply to Danish standards and regulation.
  • Different control strategies will be tested in campaigns. Mass and energy balance for the plant will be validated and optimized process conditions will be stress tested.

Catalytic upgrading of bio-oil:

  • Catalytic upgrading of the collected bio-oils will be performed using laboratory scale reactors – partly using catalysts from the partner Haldor Topsøe.
  • Initial stability tests of the oils by heating them in the absence of a catalyst and catalytic upgrading tests using high-pressure batch autoclaves
  • Repeated tests with the same catalyst sample will be performed in the autoclave reactors to indicate the catalyst stability.
  • The spent catalysts will be characterized by different methods to reveal any structural or compositional changes. The upgraded oil will be characterized and evaluated against international standards for fuel-oils.
  • Based on successful autoclave tests, proof of concept tests will be made using a continuous trickle bed reactor.

You must 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, chemistry, energy 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 Professor Anker Degn Jensen and Senior Researcher Ulrik Birk Henriksen.

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 Prof. Anker Degn Jensen (+45 45 25 28 41, email: 

You can read more about Department of Chemical Engineering on:   

If you are applying from abroad, you may find useful information on working in Denmark and at DTU at DTU – Moving to Denmark

Application procedure
Your complete online application must be submitted no later than 9 August 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:

  • 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)

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

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.

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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 12,900 students and 6,000 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.