PhD position Catalyst and process design for synthesis gas conversion

Research / Academic
The valorisation of CO2 with green H2 produced from water electrolysis is an attractive pathways to close the CO2 loop and to stimulate the transition to a circular economy. The scientific development in CO2 hydrogenation often draws inspiration from syngas (CO/H2) conversion. Similar to syngas conversions, Fischer-Tropsch Synthesis (FTS) is considered an attractive conversion of high relevance for the direct conversion of CO2 to chemicals and fuels. The challenge of the FTS process is to attain a hydrocarbon product distribution which deviates from the Anderson–Schulz–Flory (ASF) distribution.

In this project, the successful PhD candidate will be developing supported catalysts and proposing process conditions for the direct conversion of CO2/CO/H2 to aviation fuels. In this process, different reactions including (reverse) water-gas-shift, FTS, oligomerisation/isomerisation are involved and the delicate control of catalytic active sites at relevant reaction conditions is essential. The work package of this project encompasses synthesis, standard characterisation, and catalytic performance evaluation of supported catalysts. Design/upgrading of a test-rig may be required at the start of the PhD. We also expect that the candidate supervises BSc and MSc students.

The PhD candidate will be embedded in the newly established research sub-group ‘Heterogenous Catalysis for Gas Conversion’ led by dr. ir. Jingxiu Xie (assistant professor), which is part of the ‘Green Chemical Reaction Engineering’ group chaired by Prof. dr. ir. H. J. (Erik) Heeres.


We are looking for a motivated and skilled student holding a MSc degree in a relevant area of Chemical Engineering, Material Science, or Applied Chemistry. The ideal candidate shall have an affinity with heterogenous catalysis, in particular catalyst evaluation/ reactor/process instrumentation at industrially relevant temperatures and pressures. Good interpersonal and communication skills (especially proficiency in the English language) are essential.

Salary Benefits:

We offer you, following the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities:

• a salary of € 2,395 gross per month in the first year, up to a maximum of € 3,061 gross per month in the fourth and final year for a full-time working week
• a full-time position (1.0 FTE) for 4 years
• a holiday allowance of 8% gross annual income
• an 8.3% year-end bonus
• a position for four years; first, you will get a temporary position of one year with the option of renewal for another three years; prolongation of the contract is contingent on sufficient progress in the first year to indicate that successful completion of the PhD thesis within the contract period is to be expected. A PhD training programme is part of the agreement and you will be enrolled in the Graduate School of the Faculty of Science and Engineering.
Work Hours:

38 hours per week


Broerstraat 5