PhD position: Machine Learning for Sustainable Chemicals and Processes

100%, Zurich, fixed-term

The Energy and Process Systems Engineering (EPSE) Group at ETH Zürich is looking for a doctoral student to develop predictive methods for identifying sustainable chemicals and their production processes. The research endeavor is part of the project NCCR Catalysis, which promotes sustainable chemistry. 

The research of the EPSE group at ETH Zürich, headed by Prof. Dr. André Bardow, focuses on sustainability in energy and chemical process systems. We develop methods to advance sustainable energy and chemical process systems from the molecular to the systems scale. In our work, we combine computer-aided molecular and process design to optimize molecules and processes simultaneously. To holistically evaluate the environmental impacts of chemicals and energy systems, we develop predictive methods for life cycle assessment. Our technological focus currently lies in Power-to-X & sector coupling, sustainable carbon feedstock, and carbon capture, utilization & storage.

Project background

The current fossil-based chemical industry is unsustainable, being responsible for gigaton-scale greenhouse gas emissions and chemical pollution. Thus, a transition away from fossil feedstock to renewable energy and carbon sources is required. This transition needs to be carefully designed to avoid unwanted side effects, such as an increase in other environmental impacts. To produce sustainable chemicals, the industry needs to be redesigned from scratch–and we need to do so fast. However, currently, evaluating environmental impacts relies on slow, expert-dependent development. 

In this project, we will, therefore, develop methods to speed up this development by focusing on machine learning techniques to address sustainability challenges in chemistry research. We will explore novel pathways to process design and sustainability assessment by combining our expertise in predictive thermodynamics, efficient unit operation models, systematic conceptual process design, and automated prospective LCA. Thus, we aim to predict the environmental performance of novel chemical synthesis routes and thereby identify the most promising processes for the transition towards a sustainable chemical industry.

Job description

This Ph.D. position is located at the frontier of sustainable chemicals research, combining process systems engineering with machine learning methods. You will contribute to early-stage technology development for chemicals and plastics by leveraging recent advances in machine learning to develop predictive methods for process design and life cycle assessment. You will investigate novel technologies developed by our partners within NCCR Catalysis and its strong network of industrial partners and consider the transition of the whole chemical industry from a systems perspective. This multifaceted approach offers a unique opportunity to deepen your understanding of sustainable chemicals, engage in environmental assessments and optimization, and collaborate with industry and academia partners for successful project outcomes. 

We offer you a full-time position for the duration of your doctoral studies, starting upon agreement with the earliest starting of 1 October 2024. You will work in an interdisciplinary team of researchers with in-depth experience in process design, machine learning, and life cycle assessment. As an integral part of your work, you will publish your results in peer-reviewed journals and present them at international conferences.

Profile

We are looking for a proactive and motivated candidate who meets the requirements for a doctoral program at ETH Zurich and has a Master's or diploma degree in chemical engineering, mechanical engineering, process engineering, energy science & technology or similar programs from a recognized university. Ideally, you already have experience in conceptual process design, machine learning, life cycle assessment and programming. You are highly motivated to learn and apply modern simulation and optimization techniques and work in a dynamic environment with other doctoral students and postdocs. The ability to work independently and excellent communication skills in English (both written and spoken) complete your profile.

Workplace

Workplace




We offer

ETH Zurich is a family-friendly employer with excellent working conditions. You can look forward to an exciting working environment, cultural diversity and attractive offers and benefits.

Working, teaching and research at ETH Zurich

We value diversity

In line with our values, ETH Zurich encourages an inclusive culture. We promote equality of opportunity, value diversity and nurture a working and learning environment in which the rights and dignity of all our staff and students are respected. Visit our Equal Opportunities and Diversity website to find out how we ensure a fair and open environment that allows everyone to grow and flourish.

Curious? So are we.

We look forward to receiving your online application with the following documents: 

  • Curriculum Vitae, max. 2 pages
  • Motivational Letter, max. 2 pages
  • Transcript of records
  • Grade statistics of our university
  • Contact details of 2 referees

Please note that we exclusively accept applications submitted through our online application portal before 30 June 2024. We will not consider applications sent via email or postal services. Please, do not submit compressed folders. We will get in touch with you after 2-3 weeks following the submission deadline. 

For further information about the Energy and Process Systems Engineering (EPSE) Group, please visit our website. Questions regarding the position should be directed to Lukas Spiekermann lspiekermann@ethz.ch (no applications).

About ETH Zürich

ETH Zurich is one of the world’s leading universities specialising in science and technology. We are renowned for our excellent education, cutting-edge fundamental research and direct transfer of new knowledge into society. Over 30,000 people from more than 120 countries find our university to be a place that promotes independent thinking and an environment that inspires excellence. Located in the heart of Europe, yet forging connections all over the world, we work together to develop solutions for the global challenges of today and tomorrow.

Curious? So are we.

We look forward to receiving your online application with the following documents: 

  • Curriculum Vitae, max. 2 pages
  • Motivational Letter, max. 2 pages
  • Transcript of records
  • Grade statistics of our university
  • Contact details of 2 referees

Please note that we exclusively accept applications submitted through our online application portal before 30 June 2024. We will not consider applications sent via email or postal services. Please, do not submit compressed folders. We will get in touch with you after 2-3 weeks following the submission deadline. 

For further information about the Energy and Process Systems Engineering (EPSE) Group, please visit our website. Questions regarding the position should be directed to Lukas Spiekermann lspiekermann@ethz.ch (no applications).

About ETH Zürich

ETH Zurich is one of the world’s leading universities specialising in science and technology. We are renowned for our excellent education, cutting-edge fundamental research and direct transfer of new knowledge into society. Over 30,000 people from more than 120 countries find our university to be a place that promotes independent thinking and an environment that inspires excellence. Located in the heart of Europe, yet forging connections all over the world, we work together to develop solutions for the global challenges of today and tomorrow.