PhD position in the field of 'Assessment of the prospects of Synthetic Renewable Fuels (Solar Fue...

Utrecht University
September 15 2017
Position Type
Full Time
Organization Type

As part of the Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, the Energy and Resources (E&R) group aims at enabling the transition toward a decarbonized energy system through the development of knowledge, methods and by fostering interdisciplinary innovation.

Notably, the transition toward a sustainable energy system calls for the need for deeply decarbonizing our economy. Renewable technologies (in particular solar PV and Wind) are now reshaping the power sector. In parallel, the energy system is increasingly being electrified to reap the benefit of renewable electricity (e.g. electric transport). Soon, zero-carbon technologies will also need to start reshaping the other sectors of the energy economy which rely on hydrocarbon fuels for end-use energy services, notably (heavy) transport and (heavy) industry. To the extent that these sectors will continue to rely on hydrocarbons, the challenge ahead is to make these fuels carbon-neutral. However, if such technologies are to be designed and developed with a proper view towards sustainability, it is essential to carry out technology assessments at an early stage. Uncertainties and data gaps, parallel changes and developments in other technologies and products that will be linked with the analysed technology in the life cycle context. Different physical, chemical and or biological properties, are all factors that need to be coherently evaluated.

The position is part of a project carried out together with the University of Eindhoven, sponsored by Shell, and set up in conjunction with a large programme on Solar-to-Products carried out by the Dutch Science Foundation NWO. Within this larger setting, Utrecht University will develop and test a framework for comparison of Solar-to-Products technologies on cost and environmental performance, derive targets for these, and identify the most critical parameter(s) for their further development. Specific technology input and case study material will come from the NWO programme which will run simultaneously. The research group at UU has pioneered an approach to such ex ante technology assessment, which will be brought to bear on this project, and further developed. The group at Eindhoven has extensive experience in (conceptual) reactor engineering analysis and specialized knowledge of carbon capture technologies.

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