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Funded PhD position in Energy at Netherlands Organisation for Scientific

PhD position: Modelling non-equilibrium CO2 plasmas for solar fuels

Dissociation of CO2 in high-frequency plasmas relies on exploiting vibrational excitation and dissociation kinetics driven by non-equilibrium conditions for electrons in the plasma. Current methods to model this system are based on strong approximations, due to the complex chemical network and the presence of multiple time and length scales. This project aims to provide exact Monte Carlo models for the description of the non-equilibrium electron energy distribution. The work will give insights into CO2 dissociation experiments carried out at DIFFER. This PhD position is funded and part of the Shell/NOW Computational Science for Energy Research (CSER) program. The project aims at accurate Monte Carlo modelling of the electrons in a non-equilibrium plasma environment. The work is performed in synergy with the DIFFER experiments to store and convert sustainable energy by recycling CO2 into solar fuels.

Scientific aim
Our future energy infrastructure will need ways of efficiently converting, transporting and storing electricity from sustainable but fluctuating sources. One approach uses sustainable electricity for the reverse combustion of atmospheric CO2 into so-called solar fuels, thereby converting electricity into the chemical bonds of high-density fuels. DIFFER pursues plasma-assisted conversion of CO2 into CO and O2 as an exciting new approach to recycling carbon dioxide into fuels, thereby closing the carbon cycle and eliminating the need for fossil fuels.

Job description

  • Development of a code for the accurate calculation of the non-equilibrium electron energy distribution.
  • Coupling with a model for the plasma neutral/charged particles kinetics.
  • Validation and characterization with respect to numerical and physical parameters

DIFFER (Dutch Institute for Fundamental Energy Research) is one of the NWO institutes and focuses on a multidisciplinary approach of the energy research combining physics, chemistry, engineering and materials science. The institute is based on two main strands, solar fuels for the conversion and storage of renewable energy and fusion-energy as clean and unlimited source of energy. DIFFER is developing and supporting a national network on fundamental energy research and is closely collaborating with academic institutions, research institutes and industry.

We seek motivated and highly talented candidates with a master degree (or an equivalent diploma) giving access to doctoral studies) in Physics or Chemistry. The applicant should have general knowledge of low temperature plasmas and knowledge of computational modelling. Good programming skills (e.g. Fortran, C, C++) are essential as just like good communication skills in English (both written and spoken).

Conditions of employment
When fulfilling a PhD position at NWO-I, you will get the status of junior scientist.
You will have an employee status and can participate in all the employee benefits NWO-I offers. You will get a contract for four years. Your salary will be up to a maximum of 2,834 euro gross per month. The salary is supplemented with a holiday allowance of 8 percent and an end-of-year bonus of 8.33 percent.
You are supposed to have a thesis finished at the end of your four year term with NWO-I.
A training programme is part of the agreement. You and your supervisor will make up a plan for the additional education and supervising that you specifically need. This plan also defines which teaching activities you will be responsible (up to a maximum of ten percent of your time). The conditions of employment of NWO-I are laid down in the Collective Labour Agreement for Research Centres (Cao-Onderzoekinstellingen), more exclusive information is available at this website under Personeelsinformatie (in Dutch) or under Personnel (in English).
General information about working at NWO-I can be found in the English part of this website under Personnel. The ‘Job interview code’ applies to this position.

Contact information
For further information please contact: Dr. P. Diomede,  +31 40 333 49 24.

In case you are interested you can apply by submitting an application letter, a grade list, (incl. full resume). Please refer to vacancy 17.014. The letter of application may be sent electronically to

Deadline: Unspecified

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