Last application date Oct 31, 2024 00:00
Department WE13 – Department of Geology
Contract Limited duration
Degree MSc degree relevant to the position; e.g. in geology, bio-engineering, chemical engineering or equivalent.
Occupancy rate 100%
Vacancy type Research staff
Large-scale hydrogen storage is an important objective in the clean energy transition, because it can be used to store renewable energy: hydrogen can be generated at times of surplus in solar or wind energy, to be stored and used when the energy demand exceeds the renewable production. One of the most promising techniques to do this at a large scale is to inject hydrogen into pores or fractures that are naturally present in rock layers in the deep subsurface (typically deeper than 1000 m). However, actual experience of storing hydrogen in this type of geological reservoirs is very limited, and still requires fundamental scientific research.
This PhD project fits within a research collaboration between Ghent University and Fluxys, the company which operates a.o. the Belgian natural gas transmission system. Currently, Fluxys stores natural gas in a karst aquifer (a fractured carbonate rock layer) at more than 1000 m depth in the North of Belgium, and now wants to investigate if this site can be transitioned to a hydrogen storage. To contribute to this, you will investigate the flow properties of hydrogen in the pores/fractures of carbonate rock samples, its reactivity with the (saline) water and minerals present in the underground reservoir, and the risk that microbial processes consume the stored hydrogen and change the hydraulic properties by biofilm clogging. This will be done by laboratory studies at UGent (Dept. Geology, Center for X-ray Tomography and Center for Microbial Ecology and Technology), using advanced experimental techniques such as X-ray micro-computed tomography, core floodings on fractured rock samples, high-pressure batch reaction tests, microbial community quantification and fingerprinting by flow cytometry and microbial community characterization by second generation sequencing. The PhD student will also interact with Fluxys on a regular basis to compare laboratory results to field tests, aiding the interpretation. The work is supported by an Energy Transition Fund grant from the Belgian federal government.
As a PhD researcher your tasks are:
- Design, set-up and analyze experiments in the lab
- Share results with colleagues and discuss interpretations at lab meetings and meetings with the industry partner
- Follow the recent literature on underground hydrogen storage in porous/fractured media
- Write reports, scientific publications, and attend international conferences
- Guide research projects of BSc and MSc (thesis) students
- You have an MSc degree relevant to the position; e.g. in geology, bio-engineering, chemical engineering or equivalent. Research experience related to hydrogeology, groundwater chemistry or microbial ecology is a plus.
- You have a strong interest in laboratory work, including building/modifying experimental setups, developing new experimental workflows, and working with state-of-the-art equipment.
- You have good data analysis skills. Knowledge of scripting or programming languages is a plus.
- You have strong analytical and critical thinking skills.
- You have an excellent command of the English language (written and spoken), and good communication skills. Experience with scientific writing is a plus.
- You are a team player willing to work in an international research environment.
- You are interested in performing scientific research over different disciplines
How to apply
We offer you a fully funded PhD position with a start date preferably in the period from October to December 2023.
The doctoral scholarship is initially granted for 1 year and is extended to a total of 4 years after favorable evaluation.
Send your application to Tom.Bultreys@UGent.be with the heading “Application HydrogenStorage_Last name_First name”.
Please provide the following documents in your application:
- your CV and an overview of your study results (merged into one pdf file)
- your application letter
- a transcript of the required degree (if already in your possession).
- If you have a foreign diploma, please provide evidence of English language proficiency
Ghent University maintains an equal opportunities and diversity policy, everyone is encouraged to apply for this position. Candidates found fit based on CV screening will be invited for an interview upon invitation. Please include your email address and telephone number to allow us to get in contact.
For more information about this vacancy, please contact Prof. Tom Bultreys (Tom.Bultreys@UGent.be; Dept. Geology) or Prof. Nico Boon (Nico.Boon@UGent.be; CMET). Additional information about the involved research groups can be found here: