PhD Position High-Fidelity Modelling of Intensified Hydrogen Production from Biomass

Research / Academic

Anthropogenic activities have broken the natural carbon cycle, and it is becoming urgent to find alternative, more sustainable routes to energy conversion. Hydrogen is a very versatile energy carrier, typically used as an intermediate before being further valorized via subsequent catalytic approaches and intensified reactor technologies. Production of hydrogen from thermochemical processes involving biomass holds great promise to help with the energy transition from fossil fuels.
Gasification is a conversion path which proceeds at high temperatures (> 800°C) in an oxygen-starved environment, to produce syngas from a feedstock like biomass. Many such processes are being experimentally investigated, but variability in yields and overall reactor performances (including fouling) remain a hindrance to scale-up. A viable technology will require for us to gain a better understanding of the mechanisms at the core of the reactors: coupling between fluid flow and chemistry, coupling between solid phase and fluid flow, solid phase decomposition, pollutant formation (including tars), impact of design choices and biomass type, etc. Classical, experimentally based investigation methods, often fall short of providing sufficient details for a deep understanding because of the extreme conditions. Numerical simulations can prove very valuable to help at the design stage and to develop efficient control strategies; but they need to be of sufficiently high fidelity to gain useful input. High-fidelity modelling, while still expensive, is considered more and more due to the continuous development of computational resources. The advent of GPUs, in particular, has recently enabled realistic multiscale simulations of processes ( and combustion devices ( Indeed, CFD methods are at a more advanced stage in other engineering fields bearing similitudes with the complex multiphase reacting flows at the core of gasifiers.
The objective of the present PhD research proposal is to develop and leverage an already existing exa-scale friendly CFD modeling framework to advance the knowledge of novel plasma-enhanced biomass gasification systems. A big part of the thesis will be spent on investigating the best approach for magneto-hydrodynamics (MHD) modelling to include the plasma phase. Open questions related to devolatilization and char oxidation as well as the modeling of the two-way gas/solid coupling could also be investigated. Frequent interactions with another student performing experimental work with an in-house microwave-driven plasma gasification system are expected; and the available data will be used to validate numerical results.


  • We seek a motivated candidate (f/m/x) with strong communication and self-management skills, who is passionate about advancing the state of computational tools in order to help with the energy transition.
  • The successful candidate holds a MSc. degree in computational science, applied physics, mechanical engineering, chemical engineering or a similar degree.
  • Some experience with coding (Python, Fortran, C++ etc.) is required, affinity with computational methods and fluid dynamics is preferred.

Doing a PhD at TU Delft requires English proficiency at a certain level to ensure that the candidate is able to communicate and interact well, participate in English-taught Doctoral Education courses, and write scientific articles and a final thesis. For more details please check the Graduate Schools Admission Requirements.

Salary Benefits:

Doctoral candidates will be offered a 4-year period of employment in principle, but in the form of 2 employment contracts. An initial 1,5 year contract with an official go/no go progress assessment within 15 months. Followed by an additional contract for the remaining 2,5 years assuming everything goes well and performance requirements are met.
Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities, increasing from € 2770 per month in the first year to € 3539 in the fourth year. As a PhD candidate you will be enrolled in the TU Delft Graduate School. The TU Delft Graduate School provides an inspiring research environment with an excellent team of supervisors, academic staff and a mentor. The Doctoral Education Programme is aimed at developing your transferable, discipline-related and research skills.
The TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package, discounts on health insurance, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged.
For international applicants, TU Delft has the Coming to Delft Service. This service provides information for new international employees to help you prepare the relocation and to settle in the Netherlands. The Coming to Delft Service offers a Dual Career Programme for partners and they organise events to expand your (social) network.

Work Hours:

38 - 40 hours per week


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