PhD/postdoc position: Numerical modeling of plasmas for methane conversion at the Faculty of Science Engineering, Department Circular Chemical Engineering

PhD/postdoc position: Numerical modeling of plasmas for methane conversion at the Faculty of Science Engineering, Department Circular Chemical Engineering

Published Deadline Location
28 Sep 27 Oct Geleen

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We seek a PhD student/postdoc to work on methane conversion using plasma.
The research will be primarily based on numerical modeling and simulation - the candidate will perform analysis of chemical reaction pathways and transport in synergy with state-of-the art laser diagnostics at Maastricht University to develop a comprehensive understanding of the underlying physical and chemical processes occurring in the plasma.

Job description


The chemical industry urgently needs to cut its CO2 emissions. Electrification will reduce emissions from processes by powering them with renewable electricity in place of fossil fuels. Circular processes will reuse valuable resources (e.g. plastics), and in doing so will cut end-of-life emissions and reduce resource depletion rates. We research novel plasma technologies to facilitate both electrification and circular processes for the chemical industry. In future, industry expects to have an environmentally sustainable source of methane, which can be most effectively valorized via upgrading to ethylene; a crucial feedstock in the production of plastics. However, methane-to-ethylene conversion is notoriously difficult, as it a strongly endothermic reaction with highly complex chemistry. Thermal plasma technology is a promising approach for methane to ethylene conversion as it allows the possibility for high efficiency, excellent reactant conversion, and refined product selectivity.

Plasma chemistry modelling is extremely challenging. This is due to the high number of species (electron, ions, radicals, molecules) and their reactions and dynamics, which occur over multiple time and length scales. Gas heating, transport, and electromagnetic power coupling also need to be incorporated. Additionally, consideration of the non-equilibrium between electrons and other species is critical; requiring specific methodologies to describe electron kinetics. The project aim is to develop a plasma model to simulate plasma driven reforming of methane.


The successful candidate is expected to perform numerical simulations to evaluate chemical and physical processes occurring in methane plasma discharges. You will work independently to develop code, collect, analyze, and evaluate results and compare them with experimental measurements. Code validation and characterization with respect to numerical and physical parameters is also an essential part of the job.

You will join a small team working on experiments and numerical models. We expect that you will regularly discuss, share, and present your work with fellow team members, colleagues, and wider audiences at international conferences. We expect you will write a number of high-quality scientific articles. For the PhD position, such articles shall ultimately culminate in your PhD thesis.


Maastricht University (UM)


For the PhD position:
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
  • 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).

For the postdoc position:

The applicant should have a PhD in physics or chemistry or computational science and experience in low temperature plasma modeling preferably with a focus on plasma chemistry. Preference will be given to candidates with demonstrated experience in the development and use of computer simulation codes and who have qualifying experience in a scientific research institute. Very good programming skills (e.g. Fortran, C, C++) are essential as well as good verbal and written communication skills in English are mandatory.

Conditions of employment

  • We offer a rewarding career at a young university in the heart of Europe, with a distinct global perspective and a strong focus on innovative research and education;
  • The terms of employment of Maastricht University are set out in the Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities (CAO-NU), supplemented with local UM provisions. For more  information on terms of employment, please visit our website >  Support > UM employees;
  • For the PhD position we offer a full-time employment contract for a period of 1 year, which will be extended for another 3 years after positive evaluation. Remuneration will be according to standard salary levels for PhD candidates starting with a salary of € 2.395,- with a yearly growth to € 3.061,- gross a month (based on a full-time appointment of 38 hours per week). Each year the standard salary is supplemented with a holiday allowance of 8% and an end-of-year bonus of 8.3% of the yearly gross income.
  • For the postdoc position we offer a 3-year full-time fixed-term employment. Remuneration will be according to standard salary levels, depending on education and relevant work experience, in salary scale 10 or 11 in accordance with the CAO-NU (between €  2836,- and € 5211,- gross per month, based on a full-time appointment of 38 hours per week). Each year the standard salary is supplemented with a holiday allowance of 8% and an end-of year bonus of 8,3%;
  • We offer an attractive package of fringe benefits such as reduction on collective health insurance, substantial leave arrangements, optional model for designing a personalised benefits package and application for attractive fiscal arrangements for employees from abroad.

Starting date: As soon as possible!


Maastricht University

Maastricht University is renowned for its unique, innovative, problem-based learning system, which is characterized by a small-scale and student-oriented approach. Research at UM is characterized by a multidisciplinary and thematic approach, and is concentrated in research institutes and schools. Maastricht University has around 20,000 students and 4,700 employees. Reflecting the university's strong international profile, a fair amount of both students and staff are from abroad. The university hosts 6 faculties: Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, Faculty of Law, School of Business and Economics, Faculty of Science and Engineering, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience.

Not convinced/Eager to learn more? Take our virtual campus tour to get a sense of our university culture, the city of Maastricht, and your potential working environment.



Circular Chemical Engineering

Faculty of Science and Engineering
The Faculty of Science and Engineering (FSE) is home to several outstanding departments and institutions covering education and research in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) as well as the liberal arts and sciences.

Circular Chemical Engineering

We are part of the newly created Department of Circular Chemical Engineering in the Faculty of Science and Engineering at Maastricht University. Our research group is uniquely situated in the heart of the Dutch chemical industry at the Brightlands Chemelot campus, 20 km north of Maastricht. Our strong links with industry give excellent opportunity to build collaborations and partnerships, giving good prospects for a future career in industry. Our group has a strong expertise in plasma science, with each of our respective members having an established international reputation for high quality scientific output in the fields of plasma chemistry, plasma modelling, spectroscopy, and laser diagnostics. We have excellent international connections with esteemed laboratories, and we therefore expect the applicant will have the opportunity to work abroad during their PhD.


  • PhD; Postdoc
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • University graduate
  • AT2021.378


Maastricht University (UM)

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