PhD positions Sustainable Energy Conversion at Utrecht University-Netherlands


For the second phase of the MCEC research programme, 38 PhD projects have been defined, of which 8 projects are still vacant.

The projects are defined around the following themes:

Smart Biomass Conversion
What if we could replace crude oil with a more sustainable alternative to make the transportation fuels of the future? The chemical process currently used for the production of e.g. liquid fuels, can be tailored to enable the use of certified biomass as well as municipal waste. The PhD candidate will work on the synthesis of a new generation catalysts, capable of using a.o. lignin as a renewable feedstock to produce fuels, fuel additives or base chemicals, such as aromatics.
Storing Electricity from Renewable Sources in Chemical Bonds
Solar and wind energy are incessant, but by nature intermittent resources. One way to store the temporary surplus of ‘green power’ lies in chemical bonds. Within this theme, the PhD candidate will work on the design, characterization and testing of new solid catalysts capable of turning carbon dioxide into fuels and base chemicals.
Catalyst Diagnostics to Develop More Active Catalysts
New green routes for fuels and chemicals require radically new catalyst materials. But with current technologies, testing and characterizing these materials is very time-consuming. In this theme, the PhD candidate will develop an integrated spectroscopic and microfluidic testing platform, inspired by the latest developments in life sciences.

MCEC is looking for highly motivated and creative PhD candidates, who have:

an excellent Master’s degree or an international equivalent in the relevant fields of Chemistry, Physics, Chemical Engineering and Materials Engineering;
a strong interest in sustainable energy conversion;
excellent research and scientific writing skills;
perseverance and an independent, pro-active working style;
the willingness to look beyond the borders of his or her own discipline and strong motivation to work in a multidisciplinary team;
excellent collaboration and communication skills (written and verbally) in English.
Please note that the PhD candidate will be hosted by Utrecht University, Eindhoven University of Technology or the University of Twente, depending on the specific project(s) that the PhD candidate applies for. Some of the projects are Joint Doctorate projects, meaning that the PhD candidate will spend his or her time at different Universities and will receive a Joint Doctorate Degree after finishing the project. More information about this can be found in the individual project descriptions.

The candidate will be offered a full-time PhD position for 4 years and will be provided with generous funding for research and training costs. All PhD candidates will work in a truly international and interdisciplinary environment. This will provide them with an excellent basis and a strong network for a future career in the field of energy, in academia, industry as well as governance.

The gross salary ranges between €2,325 and maximum €2,972 per month. The salary is supplemented with a holiday bonus of 8% and an end-of-year bonus of 8,3% per year. In addition we offer: a pension scheme, a partially paid parental leave and flexible employment conditions. Conditions are based on the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities. The research group will provide the candidate with necessary support on all aspects of the project. More information is available on the website of Utrecht University.

About the organization
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.

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 livable cities in the Netherlands.

The Faculty of Science consists of six Departments: Biology, Pharmaceutical Sciences, Information and Computing Sciences, Physics and Astronomy, Chemistry and Mathematics. The Faculty is home to 5,600 students and nearly 1,500 staff and is internationally renowned for the quality of its research. The Faculty’s academic programmes reflect developments in today’s society. Read the overall impression 2016 of the Faculty of Science.

The Netherlands Center for Multiscale Catalytic Energy Conversion (MCEC) is a multidisciplinary research programme. Within this programme chemists, physicists and engineers from Utrecht University (commissioner of the MCEC-program), Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) and the University of Twente (UT) join forces in order to address one of the grand challenges that our society faces today: sustainable energy conversion. Different research teams work together to develop efficient processes for the conversion of renewable raw materials, such as non-edible biomass, waste and solar energy, fuels and chemical building blocks. MCEC gives academics the opportunity to work on important scientific topics in not previously existing partnerships, and thus creates the conditions for innovative, groundbreaking and multidisciplinary research, including both experimental and theoretical approaches.

MCEC is a so-called Gravitation Programme, funded by the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (OCW). The programme is cofounded with a grant that has been awarded by Marie Skłodowska-Curie COFUND programme.

Additional information
Additional practical information about the PhD positions can be obtained from dr. Nina Versteeg, Programme Coordinator of MCEC, via Contact details for questions about specific projects can be found in the individual project descriptions.

More information about the Netherlands Center for Multiscale Catalytic Energy Conversion (MCEC) can be found here and more information about Utrecht University can be found here.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 801359.

Candidates are asked to submit an application package consisting of (1) an application form, (2) a motivation letter, (3) a curriculum vitae, (4) copies of relevant diplomas and grade lists and (5) a video pitch (more information about this can be found in the application form).

Please upload your complete application package by using the vacancy portal of Utrecht University (see button below). Candidates who are invited for an interview will be asked to prepare a short presentation, either in person or via videoconference.

The application deadline is

Leave a Reply