PhD Candidate on Cryo-Electric Propulsion Technologies for Future Zero-Emission Aviation

Trondheim, Norway
05 Nov 2021
End of advertisement period
20 Jan 2022
Contract Type
Full Time

About the position

The Department of Electric Power Engineering (IEL) at NTNU has a vacancy for a full-time 100% position as a Ph.D. candidate within the field of Electrical Machines and Drives – “Cryo-Electric Propulsion Technologies for Future Zero-Emission Aviation”. The prospective candidate will be part of a project team that works in close collaboration with the aircraft industry.

The work of this Ph.D. study will be associated with the Clean Aviation EU initiative that is currently being embraced as a local initiative at NTNU as well.

The main supervisor of the Ph.D. candidate will be Associate Professor Jonas Kristiansen Nøland. The project will be co-supervised by Professor Ole-Morten Midtgård. 

The position reports to the Head of Department.

Duties of the position

Project description

The aviation sector is currently facing a paradigm shift. It has become clear in recent years that the key to the pursuit of zero-emission aviation is the integration of new disruptive hydrogen-based propulsion technologies into the aircraft architecture. Further still, concerns around the rapid scalability of hydrogen aircraft to regional flight routes have shown that revolutionary technology improvements are inevitably needed. 

The achieved level of electrification will be essential, as it will be the key player to reduce non-carbon emissions (mainly from water, NOx, SOx, soot, contrails, and contrail cirrus), as well as reducing onboard fuel consumption and noise. In fact, the electrification component is projected to be increasing by a factor of 50 to 100, compared to today’s solutions. However, to save additional mass due to the electrification, higher power densities will be required.  

The introduction of cryogenically chilled superconducting materials can enhance the current carrying capability, meaning that one achieves low energy loss while enhancing the power density of the electrical components. This performance can be achieved by heat-exchanging the components with onboard liquid hydrogen (LH2) at cryogenic temperatures (-253 C). Moreover, ultra-high currents enable lower voltage levels of the electrical distribution system to allow a reliable architecture for future aviation. 

One of the key challenges for superconducting machines is the cooling requirement of AC losses within the superconducting windings, to make it compatible with direct LH2 cooling and save additional mass by avoiding cryocoolers onboard, which could account for as much as 70 percent of the total mass of conventional cryo-electric propulsion systems. 

The Ph.D. project will focus on the design of lightweight cryo-electric propulsion systems for future climate-friendly aviation.  In particular, the student may focus on some of the following tasks: 

  • Integrate the heat exchange design with the hydrogen fuel distribution to achieve direct LH2 cryo-cooling ofsuperconducting windings.
  • Target disruptive solutions for future revolutionary regional flights compatible with 4MW maximum power capability and 35 percent of peak load under cruise. 
  • Investigate the proposed cryo-electric machines with respect to the AC losses to validate the credibility of the conceptual design and the potential synergy with LH2.
  • Perform experimental and numerical validations of individual segments of the full-scale propulsion components, and evaluate their modularity and scalability. 
  • Assess the airworthiness (i.e., aircraft safety) and how new technologies can fulfill the specialized certification requirements (CS-23/25).
  • Regularly publish results in scientific journals and conferences, and present the project to international stakeholders involved in the future of clean aviation.

Job description

The objective of the Ph.D. education is to qualify for scientific research of high international standard. The Ph.D. education has a nominal duration of three years of full-time study and includes required coursework or similar academic training comprising a minimum of 30 credits. The most important component of the Ph.D. education is an independent scientific research project carried out under academic supervision, which results in the Ph.D. thesis. The Ph.D. degree is conferred based on these two elements and the doctoral examination, which consists of a trial lecture and a public defense of the scientific thesis.

The candidate is expected to fully complete the course work and the Ph.D. thesis within the period of employment, which could be 3 or 4 years. The doctoral examination may take place after the period of employment. The option of 4-year employment would imply 1 year of duties as Teaching Assistant for the Department and may be offered to a candidate with clear motivation and ability for such work, if the Department sees the need. This will be clarified during and after any interview.

Required selection criteria

​​​​​​The PhD-position's main objective is to qualify for work in research positions.

  • Applicants must hold a M.Sc. degree (or equivalent) within electrical engineering (or engineering physics) with specialization in electrical machines or another relevant discipline, with a M.Sc. thesis relevant for this Ph.D. topic. Applicants with experimental experience and/or experience with finite element analysis will be preferred.
  • Scientific publications in international journals and at conferences will give merit.

The appointment is to be made in accordance with the regulations in force concerning State Employees and Civil Servants and Regulations concerning the degrees of Philosophiae Doctor (PhD) and Philosodophiae Doctor (PhD) in artistic research national guidelines for appointment as PhD, post doctor and research assistant  

Preferred selection criteria

Applicants must provide evidence of good English language skills, written and spoken. If your first language is not English, the following tests can be used as documentation: TOEFL, IELTS, and Cambridge.
Certificate in Advanced English (CAE) or Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English.

(CPE). Minimum scores are:

  • TOEFL: 600 (paper-based test), 92 (Internet-based test)
  • IELTS: 6.5, with no section lower than 5.5 (only Academic IELTS test accepted)
  • CAE/CPE: grade B or A.

Further assessment of both written and oral English language skills and the ability to communicate fluently will be conducted in the continued selection process and during any interviews for all applicants.

Personal characteristics

  • The ability to work in a team, and good communication skills will be emphasized in the employment process.

In the evaluation of which candidate is best qualified, emphasis will be placed on education, experience, personal suitability and motivation in terms of the qualification requirements specified in the advertisement. We look for candidates who show clear signs of independence, original thinking and a scientific mindset.

We offer

Salary and conditions

PhD candidates are remunerated in code 1017, and the salary is NOK 491 200 per annum before tax per year. From the salary, 2% is deducted as a contribution to the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund.

The period of employment is 3 years without teaching assistance, or 4 years including 25% teaching assistance.

Appointment to a Ph.D. position requires admission to the Ph.D. program in Electrical Power Engineering. Applicants must be qualified for admission as Ph.D. students at NTNU. See for information about Ph.D. studies at NTNU.

As a Ph.D. candidate, you will have to successfully complete the Ph.D. academic training program; the training includes mandatory course work and other obligatory activities. Within the first three months of your employment, you must formally qualify for admission to the Ph.D. program at the Faculty of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering.

The engagement is to be made in accordance with the regulations in force concerning State Employees and Civil Servants, and the acts relating to Control of the Export of Strategic Goods, Services and Technology. Candidates who by assessment of the application and attachment are seen to conflict with the criteria in the latter law will be prohibited from recruitment to NTNU. After the appointment you must assume that there may be changes in the area of work.

It is a prerequisite that you can be present at and accessible to the institution on a daily basis.

About the application

The application should contain (all in one combined PDF file):

  • A cover letter where the applicant describes personal motivation and relevance with respect to the requirements of this advertisement.
  • A project proposal (1-2 pages).
  • CV, including information pertaining to the given qualifications.
  • Certified copies of academic diplomas and certificates (both bachelor and master).
  • Applicants from universities outside Norway are kindly requested to send a diploma supplement or a similar document, which describes in detail the study and  grading system and the rights for further studies associated with the obtained degree.
  • Publications relevant to the research scope and any other work that the applicant wishes to be taken into account should clearly state its contribution. A short summary should be attached outlining the applicant’s input to joint work.
  • The required documentation of English language proficiency.
  • Names and contact information of at least two references.
  • Emphasis will be placed on the quality of the cover letter in the shortlisting of candidates.

Incomplete applications will not be taken into consideration.

Joint works will be considered. If it is difficult to identify your contribution to joint works, you must attach a brief description of your participation.

If all, or parts, of your education has been taken abroad, we also ask you to attach documentation of the scope and quality of your entire education, both bachelor's and master's education, in addition to other higher education. Description of the documentation required can be found here. If you already have a statement from NOKUT, please attach this as well.

NTNU is committed to following evaluation criteria for research quality according to The San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment - DORA.

General information

Working at NTNU

A good work environment is characterized by diversity. We encourage qualified candidates to apply, regardless of their gender, functional capacity or cultural background.

The city of Trondheim is a modern European city with a rich cultural scene. Trondheim is the innovation capital of Norway with a population of 200,000. The Norwegian welfare state, including healthcare, schools, kindergartens and overall equality, is probably the best of its kind in the world. Professional subsidized day-care for children is easily available. Furthermore, Trondheim offers great opportunities for education (including international schools) and possibilities to enjoy nature, culture and family life and has low crime rates and clean air quality.

As an employee at NTNU, you must at all times adhere to the changes that the development in the subject entails and the organizational changes that are adopted.

In accordance with The Public Information Act (Offentleglova), your name, age, position and municipality may be made public even if you have requested not to have your name entered on the list of applicants.

Questions about the position can be directed to Associate Professor Jonas Kristiansen Nøland,, or to Head of Department Ole-Morten Midtgård,

Please submit your application electronically via with your CV, diplomas and certificates. Applications submitted elsewhere will not be considered. Diploma Supplement is required to attach for European Master Diplomas outside Norway. Chinese applicants are required to provide confirmation of Master Diploma from China Credentials Verification (CHSI).

If you are invited for interview you must include certified copies of transcripts and reference letters. Please refer to the application number 2021/56575 when applying.

Application deadline: 20.01.2022

NTNU - knowledge for a better world

The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) creates knowledge for a better world and solutions that can change everyday life.

Department of Electric Power Engineering

The Department of Electric Power Engineering is one of the seven departments at the Faculty of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering. Our department is Norway’s leading in the field, and our vision is to be at the centre of the digital, green shift. We have excellent collaboration with business and industry as well as other universities and research organizations internationally. This gives us outstanding opportunities for interdisciplinary research with high relevance for the society, addressing industrial needs and global challenges.

Deadline 20th January 2022
Employer NTNU - Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Municipality Trondheim
Scope Fulltime
Duration Temporary
Place of service NTNU Campus Gløshaugen

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