PhD Position in Valorization of CO2/O2 Streams from a Novel Reactor Using Oxy-Fuel Combustion

Catholic University of Leuven


KU Leuven is routinely ranked near the top of innovative universities in the world, and was recently rated as the most innovative in Europe by Reuters ( As a member of this vibrant university, you will have the opportunity to not only engage in cutting-edge research, but also to hone skills that can be leveraged for future employment in industry, academia, or your own entrepreneurial pursuits. One of the great challenges for the future is to realize an environmentally friendly and affordable energy supply. Partly as a result of the higher share of renewable energy, the supply side is characterized by distributed and intermittent electrical and thermal power generation. Flexibility on the supply and demand side, including energy storage and energy conversion between different energy carriers plays a role here. In this context, the Applied Mechanics and Energy Conversion division (TME) has the ambition to develop innovative solutions for a sustainable energy supply in a wide academic collaboration. The TME division has the goal, based on its core experience around experimental techniques, modeling, integration and optimization of energy systems, to play a pioneering role in both research and education. It aims for a multiscale integration of micro-components to macro-energy systems and also does this in collaboration with academic partners, research institutions and industry.


ICO2CH - Integrated CO2 Capture and Hydrogen production
An integrated concept is investigated for the low-cost capture from CO2 point sources with alkaline KOH-based media and renewable H2 production. The innovation is on the level of the water electrolyzer, which is fed by a CO2-rich, post-capture (bi)carbonate solution, that enables isolation of a 85:15 wt.% CO2/O2 gas mixture from the anolyte during operation. This eliminates the need for dedicated ‘stripping’ energy, since CO2 liberation is a consequence of OH- consumption during O2 production. Simultaneously, KOH is regenerated in the H2 evolution reaction, avoiding further capture utility costs. The high-purity CO2 stream can be valorized, in combination with H2 to produce e.g. synthetic fuels, next to O2 in (partial) oxy-fuel combustion, after a final CO2/O2 separation step.

This project will focus on the CO2/O2 valorization objective, namely:
The valorization of O2 is experimentally investigated by a first identification of the operating limits of partial oxyfuel combustion in a NG fueled reciprocating engine, which will dictate feasible CO2 dilution and O2 enhancement levels for given CO2 emission reductions. Together with the measurements of incomplete combustion, correlated with theoretical predications of instability limits, the impact of O2/CO2 re-injection in partial oxy-NG combustion engine is determined.

One of the strengths of the ICO2CH project is the products of electrolyzer's anode gas stream of O2 and CO2 can be directly valorized in a decarbonized combustion process. By recirculating these products back to a combustor, partial oxy-fuel combustion with CO2 dilution is enabled, which can result in significant carbon abatement for heat and power generation. One of the great difficulties in standalone oxy-fuel combustion applications is the source of O2, which is typically provided by air separation units that are both energy intensive and expensive. With ICO2CH, the combustor and electrolyzer form an integral system, and ultimately as a whole a substantial portion of fugitive CO2 emissions can be avoided.


The candidate must hold a Masters of Science degree in Mechanical or Industrial Engineering or an equivalent degree that gives access to KU Leuven Doctoral School PhD program.

  • Candidate must have excellent marks and an undergraduate and Masters degrees from a good academic institution (submission of transcripts is essential)
  • Candidate must have a good command of both spoken and written English (a certificate for a TOEFL/IELTS test is required)
  • Background in combustion of gaseous fuels (some background in combustion kinetics is a bonus)
  • Experience with combustion experiments and related, numerical modeling
  • Experience in scientific computing in Matlab, Python, R, etc.
  • The candidate should be able to operate independently and think creatively when faced with challenging problems
  • The candidate must be willing to comply with the KU Leuven regulation on doctoral degrees (


  • Full-time PhD position with a competitive salary and additional benefits such as health insurance, access to university sports facilities, etc.
  • The opportunity to work and live in one of the most innovative universities and cities in Europe. Leuven is located 20 min from Brussels, in the centre of Europe.
  • International working environment and possibility to present your work on international conferences
  • A full-time employment for four years
  • To support you during your PhD and to prepare you for the rest of your career, you will participate in the Arenberg Doctoral School doctoral training program


For more information please contact Prof. dr. Josh Lacey, tel.: +32 16 32 17 27, mail:

You can apply for this job no later than January 31, 2022 via the
KU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments. If you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us at
  • Employment percentage: Voltijds
  • Location: Leuven
  • Apply before: January 31, 2022
  • Tags: Industriële Ingenieurswetenschappen

In your application, please refer to


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