PhD Position on the combustion of synthetic fuels (OMEs) produced from renewable energy sources

Updated: 3 months ago
Job Type: FullTime
Deadline: 25 Apr 2021


The objective of the project is to analyze experimentally and numerically the chemical kinetics of the combustion of oxygenated molecules called OMEs (oxymethylene dimethyl ethers) considered as potential fuels of the future. These synthetic fuels are produced from renewable electricity, hydrogen and carbon dioxide, and can therefore be considered as e-fuels. However, weaknesses in the kinetics of these oxygenates are observed and demonstrate the need for experimental data to establish kinetic sub-mechanisms for each of these species.

The first part of the project focuses on the molecule OME1 (called methylal), already studied by the research group to test the reliability and validity of the new experimental device. Next, the research will focus on the slightly more complex molecules: OME2 and OME3, tested in diesel engines and whose presence reduces soot and NOx emissions.

In order to develop a detailed kinetic mechanism for these compounds, the experimental flame structures of these e-fuels will be studied at low pressure. The flames will be stabilized on a burner in order to detect and measure, using the new Molecular Beam Mass Spectrometer (MBMS), the concentrations of the species produced and consumed during the combustion of these molecules. This MBMS will make it possible to identify the many reaction intermediates, in particular radicals, which are highly unstable species and essential in combustion kinetics.

Beyond the experimental results, the interest of the project is to develop detailed sub-mechanisms for these OMEs that can be integrated into complete kinetic models, including that of the UCL. This research will make it possible to develop a kinetic mechanism that can be used as is or reduced before its integration in CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) numerical simulation models.

Description of the PhD

The PhD student will have to experimentally study the flame structures of e-fuels (OMEs) at low pressure, determine and quantify the species produced during the combustion of these molecules and then develop a kinetic mechanism based on data from the literature. This kinetic model will be validated on the experimental results of low pressure flames.

Concerning the experimental part, the device is composed of a combustion chamber in which the flat fuel/oxygen/argon flame is stabilized on a low pressure burner. The numerical part requires simulation software, which may be OpenSmoke, the software currently used in the laboratory.

Description of Team

This offer is for a PhD at UCLouvain (Louvain-la-Neuve) with two supervisors, Prof. Hervé Jeanmart and Dr. Véronique Dias.

Hervé Jeanmart focuses his research effort on three strands: Energy system, biomass conversion, and combustion. In combustion, fundamental chemical kinetic research is carried experimentally on low pressure burners and applied research is performed in engine related conditions. In both cases the focus is on the understanding on the underlying kinetic mechanisms.

Véronique Dias' research focuses on the chemistry of combustion of alternative fuels. Her work involves the experimental and numerical study of the kinetics of combustion of hydrocarbons and oxygenated compounds flames. The objective is to establish validated kinetic models in order to better control the conversion reaction rates, the evolution of concentrations, the rate of pollutant formation, the effects of additives...

Starting date: No later than July 1st , 2021

End date: 4 years from the beginning of the project

Location: UCLouvain (Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium)

Salary: 1950€ (approximate net income)

Profile: Candidates must be fluent in English, motivated and have a good knowledge in combustion. A background in kinetics, reaction mechanism and chemistry is recommended. In addition, the candidate must be motivated by experimental work.

Application: applications should contain a CV, a letter of motivation, a letter of recommendation, a short analysis of the project idea (max one page), and a short video (2 minutes max) explaining why we should hire the candidate. The application package should be sent to and .

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