PhD position

Recycling potential of production units for solar fuels

Starting date

1 April 2023

Duration of contract

3 years


up to German TVöD 13

Type of employment


Would you like to contribute to a sustainable future by advancing solar-based fuel production? Then you are exactly right with us!

The vision of the DLR Institute for Future Fuels is to develop technological solutions that enable the cost-effective production of fuels, hydrogen, or even commodities in the sunbelt of the earth on an industrial scale. At the institute, we use our unique infrastructure in which concentrated solar energy covers the heat demand of high-temperature processes.

For production to be as sustainable as possible, the recyclability of the components of a production plant, e.g. a concentrating solar thermal power plant, must be considered from the very beginning. The use of recycled materials and the recovery of parts and components after their use phase are critical aspects towards a circular economy.

Within your work you will evaluate the recycling potential of solar plants for the production of future fuels. In addition, you will assess the use of critical raw materials and the potential reduction of greenhouse gas emissions due to the implementation of recycling routes. This will enable an adapted design of solar plants for higher recycling rates and consequently an improved use of materials and a better environmental compatibility. In particular, the work involves the comparison of different concentrating solar thermal plants producing heat and/or electricity to produce green hydrogen or synthesis gas in terms of their recycling. The evaluation will thus include solar towers, heliostat fields and, depending on the fuels production process, also thermochemical reactors or high temperature electrolysers. The traceability of the raw materials used at the end-of-life/end-of-use of the components should be considered at the product development stage through transparency, evaluation and further development of dismantling and recycling routes. For this purpose, you will evaluate and compare the recyclability of the different production plants from an economic and ecological point of view and derive recommendations for action.

Your tasks during the PhD are:

  • identification of the components used in the recycling process for each solar process route (i.e. for green hydrogen production and synthesis gas production)
  • development and process modeling of renewable-based recycling routes for carbon fiber-based materials and metals
  • techno-economic analysis and Life Cycle Assessment of exemplary metal and plastic production processes using renewable energy resources
  • comparison of the results with alternative sustainable production paths and the conventional route

DLR offers you the opportunity to advance your education by participating in extended trainings of the DLR Graduate Program. Flexible working hours allow you to balance work and family life, and we give you the freedom you need to fulfill your tasks.

You will be part of an interdisciplinary and international team of engineers, physicists, chemists and material scientists. The group has many years of experience in process modelling and is happy to support you with your work.

Your qualifications:

  • university degree in process engineering, chemical engineering, environmental engineering or similar
  • advanced experience in process simulation, preferably with Aspen Plus
  • experience in techno-economic assessment
  • experience in Life Cycle Assessments
  • knowledge in recycling processes is a plus
  • independent and structured way of working desirable
  • good communication skills desirable
  • fluent English language skills (German is a plus) desirable

Your benefits:

Look forward to a fulfilling job with an employer who appreciates your commitment and supports your personal and professional development. Our unique infrastructure offers you a working environment in which you have unparalleled scope to develop your creative ideas and accomplish your professional objectives. Our human resources policy places great value on a healthy family and work-life-balance as well as equal opportunities for persons of all genders (f/m/x). Individuals with disabilities will be given preferential consideration in the event their qualifications are equivalent to those of other candidates.

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Technical contact

Nicole Neumann
Institute of Future Fuels

Phone: +49 2203 6012693

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Vacancy 77042

HR department Cologne

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DLR site Cologne, Headquarters

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DLR-Institute of Future Fuels

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