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PhD position in Analysis of Fracture in Porous Ceramic Catalysts by use of X-ray Tomography

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The Department of Energy Conversion and Storage at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) and Haldor Topsøe A/S (HTAS) is seeking a candidate for a PhD position in analysis of fracture in porous ceramic steam-reforming catalysts by use of X-ray tomography.


Responsibilities and tasks

The PhD project will be performed within the scope of the CINEMA project (The alliance for imaging of energy materials) running between 2014 and 2018. CINEMA is a large strategic alliance project involving several universities and companies, whose primary aim is to investigate mass transport properties and microstructure in functional porous materials and damage mechanisms in porous and composite energy materials. A CINEMA cornerstone is the exploitation of in-situ 3D experiments for the improvement of 3D models of energy materials. In this PhD project the mechanical behavior is in focus.

The PhD project aims towards improving the fundamental understanding of tableting and sintering of porous ceramic steam-reforming catalyst tablets with the most advanced tools available, i.e. microstructural finite element models and in situ fracture mechanical, X-ray tomography experiments. The project will thus focus on studying the evolution of the pore system, grain size and morphology and possible flaws occurring during compaction and sintering of catalyst supports.

This will be done by in situ 3D imaging, which allows for visualization of the sintering body. The experimental results will be complemented with finite element models of the stresses developing in the sintering tablet, and the evolution of cracks and pore systems. Furthermore, there are opportunities to do post mortem analysis of broken tablets to determine failure modes, and in situ fracture mechanical experiments to determine fracture energy. The experiments will be combined with microstructural finite element models to study the propagation of crack paths in porous ceramics.

You will need strong competences in: solid mechanics and FE modeling, and preferably also some knowledge about either fracture mechanics, ceramics, mechanical testing and multi-scale modeling.

You will be employed at the university but you will share your time between the university (DTU) and the company (HTAS) to obtain the most recent knowledge from both worlds. 

As a CINEMA PhD candidate you will interact regularly with the CINEMA project team, researchers at DTU Energy Conversion and project partners (including industrial partners). The PhD position has a multidisciplinary nature and thus you will need to draw on the knowledge of several experts to reach the project aims.


Master degree in Mechanical Engineering, Civil Engineering, Physics, or similar.

Good communication skills in both written and spoken English.

Interest and experience with both hands-on experimental work and data analysis based on theory

Ability to work independently, to plan and carry out complicated tasks, to be part of a dynamical multi-disciplinary group, and to network both with project partners and international collaborators.

Supervisor team

Henrik Lund Frandsen (DTU, main supervisor), Anna Puig Molina (HTAS), Bent F. Sørensen (DTU), Henning Friis Poulsen (DTU)

The working environments

DTU Energy Conversion is among the world’s leaders in the research and development of solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) and other energy conversion technologies. DTU Energy Conversion has cutting edge facilities and competences for fabrication, testing and characterization of energy conversion technologies. DTU Energy Conversion has around 200 employees working with interdisciplinary topics within the mentioned technologies.

Haldor Topsøe A/S is a market leading company in the field of heterogeneous catalysis. Haldor Topsøe A/S supplies catalysts and technologies for the refining industry, for cleaning power industry flue gases and for sustainable energy processes. In 2012 the turnover totaled 700 million Euro generated by the 2,400 employees around the world. Haldor Topsøe A/S has extensive knowledge on catalyst production, catalysis and technology.

Approval and Enrolment

The scholarship for the PhD degree is subject to academic approval, and the candidates will be enrolled in one of the general degree programmes of DTU. For information about the general requirements for enrolment and the general planning of the scholarship studies, please see the PhD guide. 

Salary and appointment terms

The salary and appointment terms are consistent with the current rules for PhD degree students in Denmark. 

The period of employment is 3 years and is based at DTU Energy Conversion on the Risø Campus.

Further Information

Applicants are welcome to contact the project supervisors: Henrik Lund Frandsen or Bent F. Sørensen, for more information.

General information about the Energy Conversion Department is available at, Haldor Topøse A/S at and about the CINEMA project at 


We must have your online application by Sunday 1st of June 2014, and it should be submitted here . Material received after this date will not be considered. Please open the link "apply online", complete the application form and attach the following mandatory documents:

A letter motivating the application (cover letter)

Curriculum vitae

Grade transcripts and BSc/MSc diploma

Excel sheet with translation of grades to the Danish grading system (see guidelines and excel spreadsheet here)

Candidates may apply prior to obtaining their master's degree, but cannot begin before having received it.

Job interviews will be scheduled within two weeks after the application deadline.

All interested candidates irrespective of age, gender, race, inability, religion or ethnic background are encouraged to apply.

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