PhD Student Small scale biomass-based Combined Heat and Power

PhD Student Small scale biomass-based Combined Heat and Power

Published Deadline Location
24 Jan 29 Feb Eindhoven

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The Eindhoven University of Technology, Department of Mechanical Engineering has a vacancy for a PhD Student Small scale biomass-based Combined Heat and Power (V35.4232) in the Power and Flow group.

Job description

Combined Heat and Power / Small scale biomass-based Combined Heat and Power (CHP) has the potential to contribute significantly in solving the challenges Europe faces while pursuing to make its energy system smart, clean, flexible, secure, cost competitive and efficient. High efficiencies are achieved by combining heat and power generation, and even cooling can be integrated in such a scheme. Furthermore, CHP can play an important role in securing electricity supply by balancing a Renewable Energy Sources (RES) based grid ('dispatchable power') to compensate for fluctuating wind and solar electricity. Moreover, to achieve high resource efficiencies at all times a highly flexible ratio between heat and power generation is desired. It is advantageous if the CHP system is flexible enough to adjust its fuel load rapidly, and this is achievable particularly with liquid fuels. Unfortunately, most renewable biomass resources are solid materials with a low energy density, and a preceding liquefaction step seems attractive. The resulting liquid energy carrier is then used to fuel the CHP unit. In this project explicitly so-called fast pyrolysis bio-oil (FPBO) originating from different types of lignocellulosic biomasses and/or residues are targeted.

Challenge / Little is known on the details of the combustion of FBPO under diesel engine like conditions. We aim to make a significant step in the characterization of it.

Project aim and description / The project aim is to characterize FPBO combustion beyond the current state-of-the-art. Typically characteristics of FPBO are difficult to measure using standard methods (ASTM D 613, or in an IQT). In this project we will apply a so-called CRU (Combustion Research Unit) to study the combustion characteristics of FPBO and their surrogates. The CRU is, like an IQT, a constant volume setup that allows to measure the ignition delay and heat-release (global parameter) systematically. In contrast to an IQT it also provides a possibility for endoscopic visualization of the combustion progress. The specific CRU at the TU/e is modified to achieve the higher temperatures typically needed for FPBO to ignite, which makes the set-up unique. A more detailed optical characterization, applying ultra-fast cameras and laser diagnostics, is performed in a state-of-the-art constant volume set-up (EHPC). This is one of a few in the world with this level of sophistication. The set-up is able to reach any cell temperature and pressure with excellent optical access thus leading to a full understanding of the combustion of FPBO applying advanced laser diagnostics and ultra-fast visualization techniques.

Working location / The work will be done in the group Power and Flow at the Mechanical Engineering department of the Eindhoven University of Technology.  We do have a number of state-of-the-art experimental set-ups, ranging from constant volume set-ups, single-cylinder heavy-duty and medium duty engines. We regularly apply advanced laser diagnostics and high-speed imaging in all of our research. The project is embedded in a large European Horizon 2020 project ( where several international partners co-operate, as can be found on the website. We will have yearly progress meetings with all of the partners in which you will participate.


Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e)


  • Do you have an MSc degree in mechanical engineering, physics or chemistry?
  • Do you have experience with experimental set-ups and advanced (laser) optical techniques and hi-speed vizualization.
  • Do you dream of contributing to a breakthrough in the area of renewable fuels?

If so, you are the right candidate for this position.

Conditions of employment

We offer:
  • A full time appointment for four years by Eindhoven University of Technology;
  • Gross monthly salary from € 2325 (first year) to € 2972 (fourth year) in line with the Collective Agreement for Dutch Universities;
  • A package of fringe benefits, including holiday allowance of 8% end-of-year allowance of 8,3%, a development program for PhD students (Proof program), and sport facilities.

PhD students in Mechanical Engineering participate in educational tasks of the department, equivalent to around 5% of the contract time.


  • PhD
  • Engineering
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • University graduate
  • V35.4289


Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e)

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De Rondom 70, 5612 AP, Eindhoven

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