PhD on Towards Stable Catalysts for Sustainable Aviation Fuels

Eindhoven University of Technology
March 15, 2024
Offerd Salary:€2,770
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Contract Type:Other
Working Time:Full time
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PhD on Towards Stable Catalysts for Sustainable Aviation Fuels



Irène Curie Fellowship



Chemical Engineering and Chemistry



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Job description

Are you fascinated by the challenges of the energy transition? We are looking for a motivated PhD candidate, who will work in a team of scientists towards the development of sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) derived from renewable resources. An inherent challenge in catalytic processes that convert biomass components to aviation fuels is the large amount of water produced, which can deactivate common catalysts. In this project, you will develop stable catalysts for production of aviation fuels in a team of researchers from academia and industry.

Inorganic Materials and Catalysis

We are a vibrant research group focusing on the fundamental and applied aspects of catalyzed reactions relevant to a clean and sustainable future. Our main interest lies at the interface of heterogeneous catalysis and materials design with a strong emphasis on the elucidation of the mechanism of catalytic reactions. By combining a wide range of synthetic, spectroscopic, computational modeling, and reaction engineering approaches, we study nanoscale aspects of the chemical transformation of molecules on catalytic surfaces. By understanding nanoscale structure-performance relationships, we aim for rational design and synthesis of optimum catalytic sites for relevant reaction chemistry. Research projects target current industrial chemical processes as well as desired chemical processes that contribute to a more sustainable future based on sustainable sources of energy and renewable chemicals.

The Inorganic Materials and Catalysis team consists of 6 scientific staff members (2 full professors, 3 assistant professors, one research fellow), 4 supporting staff members, ~25 PhD students and postdoctoral research fellows as well as master and bachelor students. We see ourselves as passionate scientists, working together in teams to produce meaningful insights for the improvement of society. Our group has a very international character, and we regularly host guests from all over the world. We value diversity and welcome and support all identities in our research group.

Job Description

Concerns about the strong negative effect of climate change due to human- induced CO2 emissions is the main driver for decarbonizing the energy sector. Electrification will substantially contribute to this goal in the transport sector by deep penetration of electric vehicles. Nevertheless, given the low energy density of batteries, there will remain a need for liquid hydrocarbons fuels for certain sectors such as aviation. Replacing current aviation fuels by SAF represents a formidable challenge, requiring concerted efforts from academia and industry.

In this project, you will develop catalysts that are suitable for the upgrading of waste streams such as used cooking oils, beef-tallow, and other waste triglycerides into sustainable aviation fuels. The key challenge is to develop sulfur-free catalysts that can effectively remove oxygen from the feedstock and remain stable under the harsh reaction conditions. Oxygen removal leads to water, which deactivates typical supported metal catalysts. To cope with this challenge, you will carefully investigate the effect of reaction conditions on the supported metal phases. Scientifically, this research is strongly linked to the theme of metal-support interactions, which is currently actively investigated by the heterogeneous catalysis community.

This project is part of the Advanced Research Center Chemical Building Blocks Consortium, which is the Netherlands' national research center for circular and sustainable chemistry. Together with partners from industry, we aim to greenify the chemical industry with a focus on energy transition, feedstock transition and materials transition. The available project fits within the themes of energy and feedstock transition.

Job requirements
  • A master's degree (or an equivalent university degree) in chemistry or chemical engineering.
  • A research-oriented attitude.
  • Ability to work in an interdisciplinary team and interested in collaborating with industrial partners.
  • Motivated to develop your teaching skills and coach students.
  • Fluent in spoken and written English (C1 level).
  • Conditions of employment

    A meaningful job in a dynamic and ambitious university, in an interdisciplinary setting and within an international network. You will work on a beautiful, green campus within walking distance of the central train station. In addition, we offer you:

  • Full-time employment for four years, with an intermediate evaluation (go/no-go) after nine months. You will spend 10% of your employment on teaching tasks.
  • Salary and benefits (such as a pension scheme, paid pregnancy and maternity leave, partially paid parental leave) in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities, scale P (min. €2,770 max. €3,539).
  • A year-end bonus of 8.3% and annual vacation pay of 8%.
  • High-quality training programs and other support to grow into a self- aware, autonomous scientific researcher. At TU/e we challenge you to take charge of your own learning process.
  • An excellent technical infrastructure, on-campus children's day care and sports facilities.
  • An allowance for commuting, working from home and internet costs.
  • A Staff Immigration Team and a tax compensation scheme (the 30% facility) for international candidates.
  • Information and application

    About us

    Eindhoven University of Technology is an internationally top-ranking university in the Netherlands that combines scientific curiosity with a hands- on attitude. Our spirit of collaboration translates into an open culture and a top-five position in collaborating with advanced industries. Fundamental knowledge enables us to design solutions for the highly complex problems of today and tomorrow.

    Curious to hear more about what it's like as a PhD candidate at TU/e? Please view the video.


    Do you recognize yourself in this profile and would you like to know more? Please contact the hiring manager E.J.M. (Emiel) Hensen, [email protected] or +31 40 247 5178.

    Visit our website for more information about the application process or the conditions of employment. You can also contact Leo van Houten, [email protected] or +31 40 247 8269.

    Are you inspired and would like to know more about working at TU/e? Please visit our career page.


    We invite you to submit a complete application by using the apply button. The application should include a:

  • Cover letter in which you describe your motivation and qualifications for the position.
  • Curriculum vitae, including a list of your publications and the contact information of three references.
  • We look forward to receiving your application and will screen it as soon as possible. The vacancy will remain open until the position is filled.

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