PhD Position in H2 Infrastructure – HyTROS Project

PhD Position in H2 Infrastructure – HyTROS Project

Published Deadline Location
19 Mar 18 Apr Utrecht

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Do you want to design and optimise the future hydrogen infrastructure for efficient production, transportation, storage, and use? Check this PhD position!

Job description

The job opening is for a full time PhD position at the Energy & Resources group of the Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, Faculty of Geosciences of Utrecht University. In this project, you will design and optimise the future hydrogen infrastructure for efficient production, transportation, storage, and use.

Your job
This PhD position is part of a large research project – HyTROS, Hydrogen Transport, Offshore and Storage – which is funded by the Dutch Research Council (NWO) within the framework of the Dutch growth fund GroenvermogenNL. Accordingly, you will be embedded in an interdisciplinary team with 33 parties from universities, research institutions, and industries. HyTROS aims at accelerating the scale-up of green hydrogen in the Netherlands.

The transition to a CO2 net-zero society requires a major rethinking of the energy system, with coordinated, timely deployment of several technologies. Hydrogen is expected to contribute to this transition by reducing the emissions and replacing fossil feedstocks in hard-to-abate sectors, for example the chemical industry. This is particularly relevant for the Netherlands, which is Europe’s second-largest hydrogen producer. Almost all hydrogen currently comes from fossil fuels, but, by 2030, the Netherlands wants to have 4GW of electrolysis capacity (10% of the total EU target for that year). The main challenge to producing green hydrogen on that large scale is to investigate to which extent the current natural gas system on land (onshore) and sea (offshore) can be reused for hydrogen, where new assets are needed, and what needs to be arranged for the new energy system to operate safely and cost-effectively with public support. This requires more research on hydrogen production, transport and storage along the entire hydrogen value chain. The HyTROS programme will research transport (especially via pipelines), above ground and underground storage, offshore transport and storage and safety.

This PhD project will be embedded in the Upscaling and System Integration task of HyTROS, where a team of four PhD candidates will support the scale-up of the Dutch hydrogen infrastructure using model-based system optimisation and technology development. The development of new mathematical models is at the core of the task: to enable the upscaling of a cost-effective and climate-timely hydrogen infrastructure, methods and procedures are needed to optimise the design of national and local H2 systems under varying and uncertain future needs.

More specifically, this PhD project will further develop a system optimisation modelling framework where grids (H2, electricity, including storage points) and technologies (selection, location, size) will be optimised for minimum costs and CO2 emissions based on their hourly operation. Both the H2 transmission and the distribution grids will be embedded in the framework, with special focus on the interconnection between the two. Moreover, it is envisioned that the optimisation framework will include digital twins of technologies of interest, therefore allowing for reliable reproduction of the technology thermodynamic behaviour and the understanding of their role in the energy/H2 infrastructure, for example with respect to e.g., size, purity of H2 at different locations, operating profiles. The technologies of interest will be tested and developed by other partners in HyTROS. The modelling framework will be implemented using mixed integer linear programming (MILP), which allows for solving large NP-hard problems in a computationally efficient manner.

You will focus on the following activities:
  1. formulation of mixed-integer linear digital twins of the technologies of interest;
  2. validation and improvement of the models;
  3. inclusion of the digital twins in the MILP modelling optimisation environment;
  4. formulation of both transmission and distribution grids in the MILP modelling tool;
  5. application of the tool to case studies of interest (national level for the transmission, overall national distribution system, plus selected locations for the distribution system design).


Utrecht University


We are seeking an outstanding and highly motivated candidate with interest in the fundamental and applied aspects of energy system optimisation. You have a Master’s degree in Engineering (possibly Chemical, Mechanical, Energy or Electrical), Applied Physics, Energy Science, or related field. Moreover, you:
  • possess excellent programming and mathematical skills coupled with a good understanding of thermodynamics, energy conversion technologies and energy networks;
  • have experience in programming languages such as Python (Pyomo), GAMS, AIMMS, Matlab, or Julia (JuMP);
  • have strong affinity with sustainable development;
  • have excellent communication skills;
  • have work proficiency in English;
  • enjoy working in an interdisciplinary and international, diverse environment.

It is considered a plus if you have modelling experience with linear or mixed-integer linear programming and if you have experience with machine learning, statistics and data analytics.

Are you not sure if you qualify for this position, but it triggered your interest? Contact us at the address given below. We equally encourage applications from candidates interested in an academic and/or industry career.

Conditions of employment

We offer:
  • a position for one year, with an extension to a total of four years upon a successful assessment in the first year, and with the specific intent that it results in a doctorate within this period;
  • a working week of 36 hours and a gross monthly salary between €2,770 and €3,539 in the case of full-time employment (salary scale P under the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities (CAO NU);
  • 8% holiday pay and 8.3% year-end bonus;
  • a pension scheme, partially paid parental leave and flexible terms of employment based on the CAO NU.

In addition to the terms of employment laid down in the CAO NU, Utrecht University has a number of schemes and facilities of its own for employees. This includes schemes facilitating professional development, leave schemes and schemes for sports and cultural activities, as well as discounts on software and other IT products. We also offer access to additional employee benefits through our Terms of Employment Options Model. In this way, we encourage our employees to continue to invest in their growth. For more information, please visit Working at Utrecht University.


Universiteit Utrecht

A better future for everyone. This ambition motivates our scientists in executing their leading research and inspiring teaching. At Utrecht University, the various disciplines collaborate intensively towards major strategic themes. Our focus is on Dynamics of Youth, Institutions for Open Societies, Life Sciences and Pathways to Sustainability. Sharing science, shaping tomorrow.

Utrecht University’s Faculty of Geosciences studies the Earth: from the Earth’s core to its surface, including man’s spatial and material utilisation of the Earth – always with a focus on sustainability and innovation. With 3,400 students (BSc and MSc) and 720 staff, the faculty is a strong and challenging organisation. The Faculty of Geosciences is organised in four Departments: Earth Sciences, Human Geography & Spatial Planning, Physical Geography, and Sustainable Development.

The Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development is an internationally-renowned institute in the domain of energy, environmental and sustainability sciences. Within the Sustainable Development department, the Energy & Resources group focuses on transitioning to a sustainable energy and resource system, with special attention to integrating the efficient use of energy and resources with renewable energy supply solutions, at various scales. In the E&R group the challenges are analyzed in a variety of dimensions: from fundamental material sciences, technology assessment, to governance, and combining bottom-up and top-down approaches. The group has a strong track record in areas such as energy efficiency, sustainable biobased production of energy and materials, low-carbon energy solutions (including wind, photovoltaics, hydrogen and carbon capture and storage), and process and energy system modelling.


  • PhD; Research, development, innovation; Education
  • Natural sciences
  • 36—40 hours per week
  • €2770—€3539 per month
  • University graduate
  • 3747



Princetonlaan 8a, 3584CB, Utrecht

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