PhD Developing a Digital Twin for Evaluating Emission Reduction Strategies for Inland Shipping

PhD Developing a Digital Twin for Evaluating Emission Reduction Strategies for Inland Shipping

Published Deadline Location
4 Aug 21 Sep Delft

You cannot apply for this job anymore (deadline was 21 Sep 2023).

Browse the current job offers or choose an item in the top navigation above.

Job description

The PhD research is a part of the NWO's project “PAving THe way towards Zero-Emission and RObust inland shipping (PATH2ZERO)” that is aiming to achieve breakthrough by developing actions perspectives and sustainable business models for all parties in the inland shipping chain, thus contributing to the transition to emission-free inland shipping. The evaluation of zero-emission strategies, effectiveness of policies, technologies and assessment of the consequences of their implementation on the inland shipping system is the main objective of the project.

One aim of the PATH2ZERO project is to translate research outcomes to the practice, so that end users can make better informed decisions. For this purpose, PATH2ZERO aims to develop a digital twin. The main goal of this data-driven virtual representation of the inland waterway transport system for assessing the efficiency of proposed solutions for emissions reduction for inland waterway transport. Three main aspects are regarded to be vital components of the digital twin: the individual vessels, the logistic chains, and the infrastructure. As these research topics span various scales, a meso-scale agent-based approach has been selected as a suitable basis for the digital twin. Consequently, potential interventions will be considered ranging from the application of new technologies to individual vessels to policy measures that are implemented for an entire shipping corridor, or various bunker infrastructure strategies in the network. Additionally, the impact of the implemented interventions will be evaluated at various scales, ranging from the individual ship level and its emissions to the network level and the aggregated emissions in an entire area, or the impact on the logistic chain.

Various real-world data sources (AIS data, hydrodynamic data, infrastructure data, etc.) will be used in combination with already existing tools for maritime traffic simulation (e.g., OpenTNSim that is being developed at TU Delft), energy consumption estimates and emission algorithms. The relevant processes at the individual vessel level can be modelled in detail, and their performance can be tracked in time and space. Corridor scale effects will be simulated by aggregating the results of multiple vessels that together represent the corridor's traffic.

Three regions will be modelled as areas of interest: the Rotterdam – Basel corridor (an open waterway, that is vulnerable to high and low discharge events), the Rotterdam – Antwerp / Gent corridor (a closed waterway that includes various locks and short-sea shipping), and the larger Port of Rotterdam region (a region that includes both sea-going and inland vessels in an area subject to currents and tides). While the scope of the research will focus on matching the digital twins architecture and implementation with questions that emerge from the stakeholders, the research will provide the answers to the following research questions: (1) what are key elements to include in energy transition decision making, (2) at what level of abstraction should the system be understood, (3) how can stakeholders best be involved in discussions on various alternatives?


Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)


We are looking for a candidate with an interdisciplinary track record, who is able to integrate engineering, environmental and social science knowledge into a new framework for zero-emission inland shipping. This position requires outstanding skills in modelling and working with big datasets. In addition, you should have:

  • A Master of Science (MSc) diploma in Transportation, Logistics, Civil Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Maritime Engineering or any other related field.
  • Experience with big data analytics, Python and an affinity to acquire new skills in this area.
  • Experience with Agent-based modelling will be a plus.
  • The ability to collaborate with both scientific and industrial partners.

Doing a PhD at TU Delft requires English proficiency at a certain level to ensure that the candidate is able to communicate and interact well, participate in English-taught Doctoral Education courses, and write scientific articles and a final thesis. For more details please check the Graduate Schools Admission Requirements.

Conditions of employment

Doctoral candidates will be offered a 4-year period of employment in principle, but in the form of 2 employment contracts. An initial 1,5 year contract with an official go/no go progress assessment within 15 months. Followed by an additional contract for the remaining 2,5 years assuming everything goes well and performance requirements are met.

Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities, increasing from € 2541 per month in the first year to € 3247 in the fourth year. As a PhD candidate you will be enrolled in the TU Delft Graduate School. The TU Delft Graduate School provides an inspiring research environment with an excellent team of supervisors, academic staff and a mentor. The Doctoral Education Programme is aimed at developing your transferable, discipline-related and research skills.

The TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package, discounts on health insurance and sport memberships, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged.

For international applicants, TU Delft has the Coming to Delft Service. This service provides information for new international employees to help you prepare the relocation and to settle in the Netherlands. The Coming to Delft Service offers a Dual Career Programme for partners and they organise events to expand your (social) network.


Delft University of Technology

Delft University of Technology is built on strong foundations. As creators of the world-famous Dutch waterworks and pioneers in biotech, TU Delft is a top international university combining science, engineering and design. It delivers world class results in education, research and innovation to address challenges in the areas of energy, climate, mobility, health and digital society. For generations, our engineers have proven to be entrepreneurial problem-solvers, both in business and in a social context.

At TU Delft we embrace diversity as one of our core values and we actively engage to be a university where you feel at home and can flourish. We value different perspectives and qualities. We believe this makes our work more innovative, the TU Delft community more vibrant and the world more just. Together, we imagine, invent and create solutions using technology to have a positive impact on a global scale. That is why we invite you to apply. Your application will receive fair consideration.

Challenge. Change. Impact!


Faculty Civil Engineering & Geosciences

The Faculty of Civil Engineering & Geosciences (CEG) is committed to outstanding international research and education in the field of civil engineering, applied earth sciences, traffic and transport, water technology, and delta technology. Our research feeds into our educational programmes and covers societal challenges such as climate change, energy transition, resource availability, urbanisation and clean water. Our research projects are conducted in close cooperation with a wide range of research institutions. CEG is convinced of the importance of open science and supports its scientists in integrating open science in their research practice. The Faculty of CEG comprises 28 research groups in the following seven departments: Materials Mechanics Management & Design, Engineering Structures, Geoscience and Engineering, Geoscience and Remote Sensing, Transport & Planning, Hydraulic Engineering and Water Management.

Click here to go to the website of the Faculty of Civil Engineering & Geosciences.


  • PhD
  • Engineering
  • €2541—€3247 per month
  • University graduate
  • TUD04274


Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)

Learn more about this employer


Mekelweg 2, 2628 CD, Delft

View on Google Maps

Interesting for you