Postdoc on System Analysis for Solar-driven CO2 Electrolysis
Updated: 17 Jan 2020
The conversion of renewable energy resources (e.g. solar) into chemical bonds has been a major challenge for decades. In particular, the electrochemical conversion of CO2 into hydrocarbon products has large potential for storing electricity in fuels and producing renewable chemicals. However, the technology is still in its infancy and no large scale deployment has been performed yet. With the development of new materials, for photovoltaics, electrocatalysis and membrane separation, solar-driven CO2 electrolysis has been brought closer to practical application. With that, challenges rise for integrating components, studying upscaling effects (e.g. mass transport limitations) and corresponding cell designs for CO2 electrolysis.
In this postdoc position, the materials that have been developed in a collaborative public/private funded project (titled An integrated device to directly convert sunlight, water, and CO2 to syngas using only earth abundant materials (DISCO)) will be integrated and assessed for upscaling. You will collaborate with 3 PhD students, 3 principal investigators and 2 private companies in understanding the limitations for device integration and finding solutions to overcome them. Specifically, catalytic materials have been developed for the CO2 reduction reaction to CO, bipolar membranes have been developed to allow a pH control of both anode and cathode, and photovoltaic cells have been developed to drive the reaction. The utilization of these materials in a practical CO2 electrolysis cell is to be made.
You will assess different device architectures, including different (aqueous) electrolytes, membrane-electrode assembly structures and vapour-fed systems. Systems that can potentially yield partial current densities for CO >100 mA/cm2 are of main interest, in which mass transfer of CO2 towards the cathode is identified as a bottleneck. Also the role of the electrolyte (bicarbonate concentration and cation type) will be assessed, which has shown to have effect on the selectivity and reaction kinetics for other systems. To make this postdoc work most effective for generic implementation, you will conduct both experiments and simulations. The simulations, together with the existing knowledge on viable routes and input from private partners on manufacturability and process demands, will provide a design protocol for an optimized solar-to-fuel prototype. The selected designs will be tested in the lab (using electrochemical analysis, gas chromatography and in-situ fluorescence techniques for local concentration analysis), and finally at an up-scaled (100 cm2) demonstration device.
The work will also contribute to TU Delft’s e-Refinery programme on electrochemical synthesis that includes >20 principal investigators across the campus. Your daily operation is in the research group of Assistant Professor David Vermaas.
We’re looking for a candidate with a PhD degree obtained, or nearly obtained, in Chemical Engineering, Chemistry or similar. The candidate should have:
- A PhD degree in a topic related to electrochemistry
- Proven engineering skills
- A good command of the literature and the best practice in the field of electrochemical energy conversion
- System-based thinking
- Initiative for designing novel (photo)electrochemical architectures
- Good communication skills
This postdoc position has a fixed-term contract of 2 years. The salary depends on the working experience, and paid according to the VSNU salary scale. In addition, TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package, a discount for health insurance and sport memberships, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged. An International Children’s Centre offers childcare and an international primary school. Dual Career Services offers support to accompanying partners. Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities.
TU Delft creates equal opportunities and encourages women to apply.
32 - 40 hours per week