2 PhD Positions on the (Electro)chemical Recycling of Solid Hydrogen Carriers

Faculty/Services:  Faculty of Science
Educational level:  Master
Function type:  PhD position
Closing date:  31.12.2022
Vacancy number:  9343



Hydrogen is becoming one of the key energy carriers for the future to deal with the challenge of climate change and achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement, also because it can help to compensate for the intermittency of renewable energy resources, while it can be sustainably produced from e.g. solar and wind power through the electrolysis of water. Large-scale usage of H2, however, will necessitate its storage at massive scales. Multiple H2 storage options exist, among which through the production and use of NaBH4, associated with the regeneration of the spent fuel NaBO2. It is the purpose of this research project to develop NaBH4 as circular H2 storage option.


It is imminent the transition from fossil-fuels to greener alternatives in order to meet the goals set by the Paris Agreement. Besides its zero-carbon foot-print and competitive price, the new generation of energy carriers must be sustainably recycled to avoid overmining and to eliminate waste at the outset. Alkali metal borohydrides have emerged as an attractive alternative to H2 technology, both as energy vector and hydrogen carrier, due to its high stability and enormous power density. However, the applicability at large-scale is hampered by the lack of economic synthetic routes to regenerate the spent fuel (metaborate).


The most realistic and potentially scalable option is to modify the industrial Brown-Schlesinger process, eliminating large amounts of sodium sulfate as undesired by-product. Two parallel and complementary research projects with industrial cooperation will assess the synthesis of borohydride:

  • a) PhD 1: modernizing the Brown-Schlesinger process via novel one-electron chemical pathways, forming radicals in situ while improving the energy efficiency and atom economy, and
  • b) PhD 2: exploring novel electrochemical pathways for the Brown-Schlesinger process employing renewable energy and the spent fuel to enable NaBH4 as a circular H2 storage option.


What are you going to do

You will be expected to:

  • Actively search for literature of related topics
  • Design and develop novel (electro)chemical synthetic routes, incl. mechanistic and kinetic studies
  • Propose innovative alternatives to reach the final goals
  • Publish in high level international journals, presenting at leading conferences
  • Collaborate with university colleagues and industrial partners
  • Participate in the group meetings and international conferences
  • Mentor bsc and msc students in collaboration with the supervisor 


What do we require


  • MSc degree in molecular chemistry, in particular main group/ inorganic chemistry or electrochemistry 
  • A strong scientific expertise in physical (in)organic chemistry;
  • Demonstrated experience in synthesis (ideally using Schlenk-line and glovebox techniques), spectroscopy, electrochemistry and computational chemistry;
  • Affinity for green energy, electrosynthesis and circular chemistry
  • Result-driven and willing to transfer the knowledge for industrialization
  • You are able to show enthusiasm and scientific rigor that meets the requirements of the project.

Your experience and profile

  • Good communication skills in oral and written English;
  • Takes initiative and has good time management skills;
  • Interest in collaborating with students and colleagues in within and outside the institute.


Our offer


A temporary contract for 38 hours per week, preferably starting in August 2022, for the duration of four years (the initial contract will be for a period of 18 months and after satisfactory evaluation it will be extended to a total duration of four years). This should lead to a dissertation (PhD thesis). We will draft an educational plan that includes attendance of courses and (international) meetings. We also expect you to assist in teaching undergraduates and Masters students. 


Based on a full-time contract (38 hours per week) the gross monthly salary will range from €2,443 in the first year to €3,122 (scale P) in the last year. This is exclusive 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus. A favourable tax agreement, the ‘30% ruling’, may apply to non-Dutch applicants. The Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities is applicable.


The UvA offers excellent possibilities for further professional development and education.

What else do we offer

  • a function in which initiative is strongly valued;
  • an enthusiastic team that welcomes new members;
  • an inspiring academic and international environment in the heart of Amsterdam.

About us

The Van 't Hoff Institute for Molecular Sciences (HIMS) is one of eight institutes of the University of Amsterdam (UvA) Faculty of Science. HIMS performs internationally recognized chemistry and molecular research, curiosity driven as well as application driven. This is done in close cooperation with the chemical, flavour & food, medical and high-tech industries. Research is organized into four themes: Analytical Chemistry, Computational Chemistry, Synthesis & Catalysis and Molecular Photonics.


The Synthetic Organic Chemistry (SOC) group is part of the Sustainable Chemistry research theme. As part of SOC and sustainable chemistry, the Slootweg group focuses on developing sustainable main-group chemistry, ideally suited to realize a circular economy. The mission of Slootweg group is to educate students at the intersection of fundamental physical organic chemistry, main-group chemistry, and circular chemistry.


To work at the University of Amsterdam is to work in a discerning, independent, creative, innovative and international climate characterized by an open atmosphere and a genuine engagement with the city of Amsterdam and society. Here you can read more about working at the University of Amsterdam.



Do you have any questions or do you require additional information? Please contact:


Job application

The UvA is an equal-opportunity employer. We prioritise diversity and are committed to creating an inclusive environment for everyone. We value a spirit of enquiry and perseverance, provide the space to keep asking questions, and promote a culture of curiosity and creativity.


Do you recognize yourself in the job profile? Then we look forward to receiving your application by December 31, 2022, the latest. You may apply online by using the link below.


Applications in .pdf should include:

  • a curriculum vitae; 
  • a letter of motivation.


We will recruit until the positions are filled. The selection process commences immediately, but will close when a suitable candidate has been found, even if this prior to the final date of the application window.



The UvA is an equal-opportunity employer. We prioritize diversity and are committed to creating an inclusive environment for everyone. We value a spirit of enquiry and perseverance, provide the space to keep asking questions, and promote a culture of curiosity and creativity.


If you encounter Error GBB451, reach out to our HR Department directly. They will gladly help you continue your application.


No agencies please