PhD Scholarship Position in Flexible Polygeneration of Biogas Heat and Power

A new PhD position in polygeneration is available at Chalmers University of Technology. The funds for this position are available for five years. Applicants should apply before October 11, 2018.

The Department of Space, Earth and Environment contains five divisions, with research and education spanning from global challenges related to sustainability and energy supply to astronomy and space sciences. The department is host to two major infrastructures, Onsala Space Observatory and Chalmers Power Central, and consists of about 250 employees.

Information about the project

Reconversion of existing energy plants into processes with flexible generation of heat, power, steam and bioproducts (biogas, biochemicals, biofuels for transportation) from renewable biomass has become a strong point in the agendas of the energy industry and public authorities. This strong interest originates from sevral sources: the current underexploitation of heat and power plants, the need for increased flexibility of dispatchable energy units due to the increase of non-dispatchable share in the energy system, the need for biofuel for transportation derived from the national target on a fossile-independent transportation sector, and the higher benefits of using biomass to produce high-value bioproducts rather than heat and/or power.

This project develops and evaluates a polygeneration concept which, by providing a dynamic and flexible production mix, represents a robust potential for increasing the use of renewable fuel in the Swedish energy system. As the concept studied uses fluidised bed technology, known for its high fuel-flexibility, it is especially suitable for the conversion of the share of renewable fuel without potential to contribute to a circular economy. Existing boilers can relatively easy and inexpensively be retrofitted into polygeneration reactors and thereby enable maximized utilization of these units - whose current yearly averaged power load lies at 23% and 46% (for district heating and industrial units, respectively). Three industrial partners will be participating in the project, which is co-funded by the Swedish Energy Agency.

Through the development of dynamical models at both reactor and process levels, optimal designs of the polygeneration reactor and process will be investigated under selected representative scenarios. The evaluation will focus in the ability to meet a varying demand of the main production while providing a flexible mix of other renewable products.

The Division of Energy Technology has long experience and state-of-the-art knowledge in the field of fluidised beds for energy applications, and is recognized as an internationally leading research group in the field. More specifically, the use of biomass as fuel and the production of biogas are fields of top expertise which provide the best scientific background for this project.

Major responsibilities

As a PhD student your research will focus on the development of efficient polygeneration reactors and processes based on biomass conversion in fludized beds. For this, you will implement and run static and dynamic models at both reactor and process levels. Industrial data from demand scenarios typically faced by energy plants will be used as boundary conditions in order to evaluate the ability of the process to produce a suitable mix of outputs while meeting the demand curve of the main production target. This implies good ability to implement mathematical descriptions at both reactor level (finite volume method, transport phenomena) and for the whole plant system (thermodynamics, process engineering, plant design).

Your major responsibility as a PhD student is to pursue your own doctoral studies. You are expected to develop your own scientific concepts and communicate the results of your research verbally and in writing. Your research will be supervised by well-reputed senior researchers.

A PhD position at Chalmers generally includes teaching or performing other duties corresponding to at least up to a 10% load.

Full-time temporary employment.The position is limited to a maximum of five years.


To qualify as a PhD student, you must have a master’s level degree corresponding to at least 240 higher education credits in mechanical, chemical or energy engineering. Your educational background should cover courses on basic and advanced thermodynamics. Further, you must be experienced in programming.

Courses in heat and power systems, plant design, finite volume method, transport phenomena and combustion/gasification are meritorious, as well as knowledge of MatLab and software for systems engineering (e.g. Epsilon, Dymola, Aspen Plus). Good skills in academic writing are also important, as well as strong commitment to learn Swedish (if the candidate is not already able to communicate in it).

The position requires that you are skilled in both numerical analysis and strategic thinking (required for the modeling at reactor and process levels, respectively) and can find structured patterns to handle large amounts of variables and data. You are expected to efficiently discuss and communicate your work with people of different backgrounds. You must have a strong inner drive to develop yourself and a strong curiosity for learning and keeping up to date with the latest developments in the field.


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