PhD Electrolysis of alcohols for the co-production of H2 & value-added chemicals


Faculty of Science and Engineering


University of Groningen

Job description

In the Chemical Engineering group of the University of Groningen, we are looking for a PhD candidate for a project on the “Electrolysis of bio-based alcohols for the co-production of hydrogen and value-added chemicals.” Electrolysis plays a crucial role in boosting the energy transition from fossil fuels to low-carbon and carbon-free energy sources, as it offers the possibility of converting renewable resources such as H2O and biomass-derived compounds into fuels and valuable chemicals. Particularly, the production of hydrogen via electrolysis represents a promising route towards a sustainable energy supply, yet, research efforts are still needed to further develop and commercialize water electrolysis technologies. Two strategies to achieve this goal are (1) designing low cost, stable electrocatalytic materials that are highly efficient under industry-relevant operating conditions, and (2) coupling the production of hydrogen with a highly selective generation of value-added chemicals and fuels.

The activities of the PhD candidate will include the fabrication and characterization of electrocatalytic materials, as well as the evaluation of their activity towards the electrooxidation of bio-based alcohols (e.g. ethylene glycol or glycerol) under industry-relevant operating conditions. The PhD candidate will also evaluate the selectivity of these materials towards the formation of valuable chemicals and fuels. The goal of the PhD research is to gain in-depth understanding on how the composition of the electrode/electrolyte interface and the operating conditions impact the electrocatalyst performance. This understanding will be of key importance to evaluate and enhance the applicability of these electrocatalytic systems. Your supervisors will be Dr. Dulce M. Morales, Assist. Professor in Electrochemical Conversion of Renewable Resources to Chemicals and Fuels, and Prof. Dr. Paolo P. Pescarmona, Full. Prof. in Catalysis & Sustainability.

Responsibilities and tasks:
- synthesis and characterization of electrocatalytic materials
- testing of electrocatalytic materials’ performance
- identification and quantification of reaction products
- preparation of scientific articles and conference communications
- supervision of bachelor and master students
- contribution to the scientific and collaborative research environment in the Chemical Engineering group and in the whole ENTEG.

The University of Groningen has an international reputation as a dynamic and innovative center of higher education offering high-quality teaching and research. Balanced study and career paths in a wide variety of disciplines encourage the 36,000 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 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 Engineering and Technology institute Groningen (ENTEG) 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. Research activities are performed in the field of chemical and biochemical systems, mechanical and electric systems, and system networks.


We are looking for a motivated and skilled student with a MSc degree in Chemical Engineering, Chemistry, Materials Science or related disciplines. Background in electrochemistry and catalysis is appreciated. The successful candidate should have a strong commitment to interdisciplinary research. Excellent verbal and written communication skills in English are required.

Conditions of employment

Contract length: 48 months.

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

- a salary of € 2,541 gross per month in the first year, up to a maximum of € 3,247 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% end-of-the-year allowance
- 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 program 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 degrees
- any other relevant documents (e.g., short research statement, awards, publications, language skills/certification).

You may apply for this position until 31 January 11:59pm / before 1 February 2023 Dutch local time (CET) by means of the application form (click on "Apply" below on the advertisement on the university website).

Candidates are expected to start in April or May, 2023.

The University of Groningen strives to be a university in which students and staff are respected and feel at home, regardless of differences in background, experiences, perspectives, and identities. We believe that working on our core values of inclusion and equality are a joint responsibility and we are constructively working on creating a socially safe environment. Diversity among students and staff members enriches academic debate and contributes to the quality of our teaching and research. We therefore invite applicants from underrepresented groups in particular to apply. For more information, see also our diversity policy webpage:[…]/
Our selection procedure follows the guidelines of the Recruitment code (NVP): and European Commission's European Code of Conduct for recruitment of researchers:

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Additional information

For additional information, please contact:

Dr Dulce M. Morales

Prof. Paolo P. Pescarmona

In your application, please always include the job opening ID V23.0005

Digital application form