PhD position Catalyst and process design for synthesis gas conversion


Faculty of Science and Engineering


University of Groningen

The University of Groningen has an international reputation as a dynamic and innovative centre of higher education offering high-quality teaching and research. Balanced study and career paths in a wide variety of disciplines encourage the 33,500 students and researchers to develop their own individual talents. Belonging to the best research universities in Europe and joining forces with prestigious partner universities and networks, we are truly an international place of knowledge.

The Faculty of Science and Engineering (FSE) harbours a kaleidoscope of disciplines and research strengths. Our programmes in research and education range from nanomaterials and biomachinery to astronomy, from mathematics to pharmacy, from neurosciences to computer science, and from molecular and evolutionary biology to marine biology.

The research institute ENTEG is the engineering science and technology institute of the University of Groningen, the Netherlands. ENTEG research is highly multidisciplinary in nature and focuses on fundamental and applied research on the development of new and innovative processes and products for a wide range of product sectors. Process driven research activities are performed in the field of chemical and biochemical systems, mechanical and electric systems, and system networks.

Job description

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.

Conditions of employment

Contract length: 12 months.

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.

Job Application

Do you meet our qualification criteria? If yes, your application should include:

• cover letter
• curriculum vitae
• transcripts from your bachelor’s and master’s degree
• any other relevant information (e.g. language skills/certification).

You can submit your application until 30 November 2020 11:59p.m. / before 1 December 2020 Dutch local time (CET) by means of the application form (click on "Apply" below on the advertisement on the university website).

The preferred starting date is before 1 March 2021.

We are an equal opportunity employer and value diversity at our University. We are committed to building a diverse faculty so you are encouraged to apply. Our selection procedure follows the guidelines of the Recruitment code (NVP), and European Commission's European Code of Conduct for recruitment of researchers,

Unsolicited marketing is not appreciated.

Additional information

For additional information, please contact:

Dr Jingxiu Xie

Prof. Erik Heeres

In your application, please always include the job opening ID 220372

Digital application form