This vacancy is funded through the U Hasselt Grand Challenge project “CLEAN H2”. CLEAN H2 will address the critical issue of making hydrogen production via solar-driven water splitting efficient and affordable. Clean H2 is a cooperative and interdisciplinary basic research project involving chemists, physicists, engineers and economists with the common objective to contribute greatly to a better fundamental understanding of how to improve the efficiency and the stability of water splitting processes and to use this knowledge to create major breakthroughs to convert sunlight into storable chemical energy in the form of hydrogen. Clean H2 will address one of the biggest concerns of our society: How can we marry ever increasing energy demands with dramatically reducing carbon emissions?
CLEAN H2 is based on a powerful synergy among 1) chemists to design and synthesise novel stable solar harvesters and earth-abundant catalysts, 2) physicists to tackle theoretical problems in describing, understanding and tailoring electron and transport phenomena, 3) engineers to measure and benchmark parameters of interest of the different critical sub-components, and to evaluate their jointly behaviour and, 4) economists for economic analysis and environmental impact studies.
The position is embedded within the Research Group Environmental Economics of U Hasselt’s Centre for Environmental Sciences. The Environmental Economics Research focuses on sustainability assessments of clean technologies and valuation of ecosystem services, and is a visible source of robust science-driven advice in these domains. There will be close collaboration with researchers from U Hasselt’s Institute for Materials Research (IMO).
You will develop and conduct engineering, environmental and economic analyses for the full technology system.
You will develop a process model for the hydrogen generation process in Software such as Aspen Plus or HYSYS which will be used to run simulations for the sensitivity analyses, optimisation and cost analysis purposes. The model will be parametrized and validated using the experimental data generated by other PhDs during the project. Cost analyses and environmental impact analysis will be conducted by means of an environmental techno-economic analysis. Environmental impacts will be estimated for the lifecycle of hydrogen production and use by coupling the data from the parametrized physics-based model with state-of-the art lifecycle assessment tools such as SimaPro. Costing analyses will be done first by coupling the data from parameterized model with state of the art process costing tools such as Aspen Economic Analyzer, with the resulting cost estimates secondly used within a peer-reviewed in-house discounted-cash-flow-rate-of-return model to estimate hydrogen minimum selling prices and return on investment. These analyses are conducted to: 1) facilitate finding the optimal process conditions and provide feedbacks to the other WPs for the optimal design of components 2) estimate the environmental and economic impacts of the solar-driven water splitting system to be developed in CLEAN H2.
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