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Postdoctoral researcher Temperature assisted electrolysis

Design and develop new nanostructured ceramics employing sol-gel chemistry combined with molecular and/or hard templates and physically induced self-assembly

What you will do

The realization of megawatt production of pressurized hydrogen gas from renewable electricity is currently limited to two commercially options: alkaline water electrolyzers (AWE) and proton-exchange-membrane (PEM) electrolysis. These low-temperature electrolysis (LTE, T < 120 °C) technologies can be complemented by high-temperature electrolysis (HTE), operating from 600 to 850 °C, currently setting its first steps into (subsidized) commercialization as solid oxide electrolyzer cells (SOECs). The latter systems are more electrically efficient since part of the reaction free-enthalpy is supplied as heat, resulting in a lower cell voltage for water splitting. Between these two main options lies an opportunity of medium-temperature electrolysis (MTE, 150 °C < T < 400 °C), that links hydrogen production by electrolysis with the valorisation of waste heat, for example, from industrial processes. However, the lack of suitable and stable solid proton electrolytes or SPE in the medium temperature range has hindered the development of this technological option making the “MTE gap” a current challenge. In this project, you will bring innovation via two main strategies: the exploration of (a) nanocomposite electrolytes of electrolyte mixtures confined in mesoporous oxides and (b) solid-solid composite electrolytes (SCE) with enhanced ion conductivity along salt/oxide interfaces. Likely, the organic-based materials in (a) will be most suited in the ‘lower end’ MT range (150 - 250 °C) whereas the SCE are expected to cover the ‘higher end’ MT range (250 - 400 °C), even though overlap of operational windows is not excluded. You will design and develop new nanostructured ceramics employing sol-gel chemistry combined with molecular and/or hard templates and physically induced self-assembly. These nanostructured ceramics will be further combined with soft and hard electrolyte materials. You will explore and rationalize the inherent conductivity and stability of the most promising advanced MT-PEMs in relevant environments. The work will be executed in the labs in imec in Leuven.

What we do for you

We offer you the opportunity to join one of the world’s premier research centers in nanotechnology at its headquarters in Leuven, Belgium. With your talent, passion and expertise, you’ll become part of a team that makes the impossible possible. Together, we shape the technology that will determine the society of tomorrow.

We are committed to being an inclusive employer and proud of our open, multicultural, and informal working environment with ample possibilities to take initiative and show responsibility. We commit to supporting and guiding you in this process; not only with words but also with tangible actions. Through imec.academy, 'our corporate university', we actively invest in your development to further your technical and personal growth.

We are aware that your valuable contribution makes imec a top player in its field. Your energy and commitment are therefore appreciated by means of a 2-year contract with a market appropriate salary and benefits.

Who you are

We are looking for candidates who have throughout experience of sol-gel and/or solid-state electrolyte development. Experience with electrolyzers or fuel cell technology is a plus, but not mandatory. Furthermore, you are a self-motivated person, who seizes opportunities and is enthused by new challenges.

  • You have a PhD degree in science of engineering
  • You are an expert in solid-electrolyte technology
  • You take initiative and work on your own, while being part of a team.
  • You can guide and motivate team members in their work
  • You can plan the work of a team according to deadlines and deliverables
  • You are creative and like to think with the team to solve problems
  • You are result-driven and can meet deadlines with quality output.
  • You are flexible to accept new tasks in the future, and to evolve together with the changing R&D demands of our high-tech environment
  • The imec environment requires a good team player with good communication and reporting skills. Given the international character of imec an impeccable knowledge of English is mandatory.
  • With our postdoctoral research program, we target to bring in external knowledge and skills. Therefore, we are looking for candidates who did not stay or work/study in Belgium for more than 24 months in the past 3 years (short stays such as holiday, participation in conferences, etc. are not taken into account).
  • As we want to invest in young researchers, we are targeting freshly graduated PhD students or with max 4 years of research experience after PhD.




Electronics & Engineering

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