Postdoctoral Researcher in Highly Efficient, Directly-Injected Hydrogen Engines

Catholic University of Leuven

Belgium

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 (https://nieuws.kuleuven.be/en/content/2019/four-years-in-a-row-ku-leuven-once-again-tops-reuters-ranking-of-europes-most-innovative-universities). 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.

Responsibilities

The use of hydrogen as a vector for carbon neutrality is currently receiving a marked surge of interest from a variety of actors, including those involved with policy making, industry and academia. Within Flanders, there is an established roadmap that aims to promote a significant uptake in hydrogen production, storage and usage by 2030. Internationally, the EU and countries such as Australia and Japan have set aggressive goals to utilize hydrogen across a broad range of applications. Similar policies are expected to proliferate in the coming decade, opening avenues for a renewable hydrogen economy and creating substantial opportunities to utilize a sustainable hydrogen supply.
 
One potential end use of hydrogen is as a fuel source for internal combustion (IC) engines with zero fuel-derived carbon emissions. State-of-the-art hydrogen-fueled engines are still in an early phase of industrial development (e.g. the BeHydro joint venture between ABC and CMB and the hydrogen engine generator set product from Europower Generators) and are not yet ready for widespread commercial uptake. Such engines generally feature injection of hydrogen into the engine’s intake port, with some intended only for use with a combination of hydrogen and diesel fuel. Most laboratory tests with monofuel engines operating with spark-ignited (SI) hydrogen also used port-fuel injection (PFI) technology. Direct injection (DI) of a pure hydrogen fuel stream represents a significant advancement in the commercialization of zero-carbon emitting IC engines.
 
This project aims to advance technology that will allow high performance, high efficiency DISI H2 systems to be brought to market through a cost-effective solution that can be retrofit to existing reciprocating engines operated with natural gas. This will be accomplished by fabricating an apparatus to adapt a PFI SI natural gas engine to operate on DISI hydrogen with advanced injection strategies (i.e. split injections). Development of this technology will be accomplished through a combination of design and manufacturing, experimental testing and numerical analysis.
 
The overarching objective of this project is the demonstration of a retrofit solution to convert existing engine hardware to enable zero-carbon emitting hydrogen combustion. Moreover, the project seeks to show that a properly optimized engine with purpose-built injection hardware can realize high fuel efficiencies that are comparable to a hydrogen fuel cell at a lower cost. The key goals are outlined below:
 
1.     Demonstrate a ‘drop-in’ DISI hydrogen solution to convert an engine generator set configured to operate with port-fueled natural gas
2.     Use heat flux and wall temperature measurements to assess the applicability of current models of wall heat transfer to hydrogen combustion and to understand inefficiencies related to heat loss during combustion
3.     Provide compelling evidence that a PFI SI, natural gas engine converted to operate with DISI hydrogen and split fuel injection can realize high fuel efficiency even at low and medium-load conditions
4.     Characterize the performance capabilities of DISI H2 against state-of-the-art injection systems (i.e. high-load, peak power), motivating further valorization of this technology as the preferred solution for hydrogen-fueled reciprocating engines
 
The postdoctoral researcher will be involved in all these tasks (design, implementation, testing, processing and analysis) and will work closely with the PI (Prof. Joshua Lacey) as well as other partners at VIVES Kortrijk, where the experimental setup will be physically located. Therefore, it is foreseen that the postdoctoral researcher will be based in Leuven, but perform will some tasks in Kortrijk at relevant times.

Profile

  • Candidate must have a PhD in Mechanical Engineering (or an equivalent degree relevant to the position) from an excellent academic institution
  • Candidate must have a good command of both spoken and written English (submission of a significant journal publication or other relevant scientific document is highly recommended)
  • Background in combustion experiments and related numerical analysis of reciprocating engines using gaseous fuel
  • Mechanical design skills (use of CATIA, Solidworks, etc.) are essential and should be demonstrated in the application (submission of a drawing/rendering with explanation from a previous project); practical experience with additive manufacturing (3D printing of metal parts) would be a bonus
  • Experience in scientific computing and processing of experimental results using Matlab, Python, R, etc.
  • The candidate should be able to operate independently and think creatively when faced with challenging problems

Offer

  • Full-time postdoctoral 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 minutes from Brussels, in the center of Europe.
  • International working environment and the possibility to present your work in international conferences
  • A full-time employment for up to 2.5 years (subject to an evaluation after the first year)

Interested?

For more information please contact Prof. dr. Josh Lacey, tel.: +32 16 32 17 27, mail: josh.lacey@kuleuven.be.

You can apply for this job no later than February 14, 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 diversiteit.HR@kuleuven.be.
  • Employment percentage: Voltijds
  • Location: Leuven
  • Apply before: February 14, 2022
  • Tags: Werktuigkunde


In your application, please refer to Professorpositions.com

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