PhD Satellite (small & medium) power and propulsion application requirements by Sustainable Fuel Cell solution.
TU Delft
Delft, NL
6 dagen geleden

Job description

Small and medium satellites have limited space and volume. It also limits the power and propulsion system for these satellite applications.

Current lithium-Ion batteries are not a sustainable solution. Similarly, hydrogen fuel cell either due to requirement of a high pressurized system of 35MPa, system complexity, safety.

Exploring the alternative sustainable fuel cell solution to meet the power and propulsion requirements of small and medium-scale satellites is crucial.

All the R&D activity will be performed at the TU Delft LR faculty and SSE section of the SpE department. We are looking for enthusiastic Ph.

D. student to participate and contribute to the proposed research topic.

This project proposes the applicability of suitable green fuel (e.g., ethanol or NaBH4) based fuel cell for the direct conversion to energy for small / medium satellite power & propulsion needs.

The green propellant as a source of clean energy is one of the key requirements in the space propulsion industry. The ethanol fuel cell has several advantages over Hydrogen fuel cell, including multi-fuel additive capability.

Ethanol is in the liquid phase, hence not requiring a high pressurized system, unlike hydrogen, storage and safe to handle.

Ethanol has a five times higher volumetric energy density (6.7kWh / l) than hydrogen (1.3kWh / L) and can be used safely in fuel cells for power generation.

The power generated by ethanol with a fuel additive is expected to be performing better than hydrogen fuel cells. Theoretically, the efficiency of an ethanol fuel cell should be 96%, but in practice, at the highest power density, it is only 30%, due to a variety of reasons and demands detailed R&D investigation.

This project will be carried out within the Space Systems Engineering section of the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering, TU Delft.

This project proposes the following objectives :

1) Characterisation, (2) Design Optimisation (using additive manufacturing technology) of fuel cell for usage for small / medium satellite power and propulsion applications, and (3) Demonstration of fuel cell prototype for power generation, performance, and efficiency by testing in the lab environment.


We are looking for a candidate with an MSc degree in Chemical Engineering with a specialization in energy systems or fuel cell technology.

The candidate must be passionate about technical problem solving and good at lab experiments and extensive simulations. Experience in programmings such as Solidworks or CAD designing.

Sound knowledge in thermodynamic, mass and heat transfer, and transport phenomenon. Can work at the intersection of several research domains.

Hands-on experience of using analytical lab instrumentation for analyzing materials. Very good command of the English language is required, along with excellent communication and networking skills.

Conditions of employment

TU Delft offers PhD-candidates a 4-year contract, with an official go / no go progress assessment after one year. Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities, increasing from € 2434 per month in the first year to € 3111 in the fourth year.

As a PhD candidate you will be enrolled in the TU Delft Graduate School. The TU Delft Graduate School provides an inspiring research environment with an excellent team of supervisors, academic staff and a mentor.

The Doctoral Education Programme is aimed at developing your transferable, discipline-related and research skills.

The TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package, discounts on health insurance and sport memberships, and a monthly work costs contribution.

Flexible work schedules can be arranged. For international applicants we offer the Coming to Delft Service and Partner Career Advice to assist you with your relocation.

TU Delft (Delft University of Technology)

Delft University of Technology is built on strong foundations. As creators of the world-famous Dutch waterworks and pioneers in biotech, TU Delft is a top international university combining science, engineering and design.

It delivers world class results in education, research and innovation to address challenges in the areas of energy, climate, mobility, health and digital society.

For generations, our engineers have proven to be entrepreneurial problem-solvers, both in business and in a social context.

At TU Delft we embrace diversity and aim to be as inclusive as possible (see our Code of Conduct). Together, we imagine, invent and create solutions using technology to have a positive impact on a global scale.

Challenge. Change. Impact!

Faculty Aerospace Engineering

The Faculty of Aerospace Engineering at Delft University of Technology is one of the world’s most highly ranked (and most comprehensive) research, education and innovation communities devoted entirely to aerospace engineering.

More than 200 science staff, around 250 PhD candidates and over 2,700 BSc and MSc students apply aerospace engineering disciplines to address the global societal challenges that threaten us today, climate change without doubt being the most important.

Our focal subjects : sustainable aerospace, big data and artificial intelligence, bio-inspired engineering and smart instruments and systems.

Working at the faculty means working together. With partners in other faculties, knowledge institutes, governments and industry, both aerospace and non-aerospace.

Working in field labs and innovation hubs on our university campus and beyond.

Click here to go to the website of the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering.

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