PhD candidate, Design for Sustainability, User Acceptance of Repurposed Lithium-Ion Batteries

Trondheim, Norway
30 Nov 2021
End of advertisement period
07 Jan 2022
Contract Type
Full Time

Research Collaboration in Sustainability

In 2015, the 2030 agenda with the 17 sustainability goals was adopted by all UN member states. The sustainability goals see the environment, economy and social development in context. The time horizon for necessary changes is short, and it is challenging to combine different considerations without conflicts of objectives and unintended consequences of measures.

NTNU is now announcing 44 individual PhD positions that will contribute to a greater understanding of system effects, societal changes and conflicts of interest related to the sustainability challenges. These positions are divided into 9 interdisciplinary projects with mainly 4-7 PhD positions in each project.

In this position, the candidate is expected to cooperate with the other PhD students in the project HolE-LIB – Developing a Holistic Ecosystem for Sustainable Repurposing and/or Recycling of Lithium-ion Batteries (LIBs) in Norway and EU

About the possition

The Department of Design has a vacancy for a PhD candidate within the field of Design for Sustainability.

The candidate will work within the HolE-LIB - Developing a Holistic Ecosystem for Sustainable Repurposing and/or Recycling of Lithium-ion Batteries (LIBs) in Norway and EU. (HolE-LIB), funded by NTNU Sustainability Call, 2021. A total of 5 PhDs will be working within the scope of the project across four faculties and six departments at NTNU.

From Norway’s perspective, the battery value chain can be seen as an exceptional sustainable value creation opportunity primarily based on Norway's comparative advantage with a competence-driven materials sector based on renewable power. The sustainability depends in part on the ability to reuse and recycle batteries and the compounds they contain. Research into factors which affect customer acceptance in case of repurposed batteries is so far extremely limited. On the other hand, a robust recycling process needs to be developed that can cater to different battery types, designs, chemistries, etc. for competitive disruption of the battery market. Currently, there exists no techno-economically efficient Li recycling process and further, the graphite from lithium-ion battery (LIB) anodes is not recycled. Development of innovative separation processes are expected to positively impact the circular economy and enable sustainable business model (SBM) innovation. 

The current project aims to develop a holistic understanding of the fate of end-of-life batteries by addressing technical, economic, and design perspectives along the battery value chain, complemented by evaluation of SBM scenarios within reuse, repurposing and recycling.

Duties of the position

The PhD student positioned at the Department of Design will address the black box which batteries to a large extent still are for the average customer. They evoke emotions of both convenience, cheapness, sustainability but also uncertainty, disgust and even fear, depending on the application and familiarity of the context. The main focus will be on consumer and market research to understand customer acceptance of repurposed end-of-life ELV batteries in various household/home/cabin application contexts, by addressing research questions such as:

  • What associations and connotations do batteries evoke which are relevant for customer acceptance of repurposed car batteries?
  • What products could repurposed car batteries replace or compete with (diesel generators, grid power, wood stoves, solar panels, etc.)?
  • What should repurposed car batteries look like, depending on the context (like car batteries, or something completely different)?
  • Where should they be bought from (car dealers, dedicated entrepreneurs, same outlets as competing products, online, etc.)?
  • How can answers to these questions inform the entire value chain (production, processing, infrastructure and  business model development?

Research methods will draw upon the design researcher’s toolbox of methods such as context mapping, applied ethnography, contextual inquiry, interviews, surveys, cultural probes, personas, focus groups, show and tell, visualization techniques, prototyping, etc.

Travelling with respect to conferences, meetings, workshops may be expected as part of the position.

The PhD candidate will be supervised by Prof. Casper Boks from the Department of Design with co-supervision from Associate Professor Elli Verhulst from the Department of Industrial Economics & Technology Management.

The 100% position will be fully funded for 3 years. If relevant, the successful applicant may be given the option of a 4 year contract which in that case includes one year of department duties, which are likely to include design education in our design curricula.

Required selection criteria

The PhD-position's main objective is to qualify for work in research positions. The qualification requirement is that you have completed a master’s degree or second degree (equivalent to 120 credits) with a strong academic background in design or another relevant field, or equivalent education with a grade of B or better in terms of NTNU’s grading scale. If you do not have letter grades from previous studies, you must have an equally good academic foundation. If you are unable to meet these criteria you may be considered only if you can document that you are particularly suitable for education leading to a PhD degree.

  • A master degree in Industrial Design Engineering, or another field deemed relevant for the position
  • A documented theoretical and practical understanding of the topics and design methods mentioned in this announcement
  • Excellent communication skills in English, both written and spoken
  • The ability to be creative and work and think in a cross-disciplinary manner
  • Have the potential to conduct and disseminate high quality scientific research

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

  • Experience with design research
  • Affinity with entrepreneurship and business models
  • Communication skills in a Scandinavian language, both written and spoken
  • A relevant existing national or international professional network

Personal characteristics

We are searching for candidates who are

  • Curious, investigative, positive, creative, result oriented and enthusiastic
  • Able to contribute to the department with new knowledge and perspectives
  • Able to cooperate in interdisciplinary teams, as well as work independently
  • Able to communicates information and results with clarity and ease, both orally and in writing. 

We offer

  • An open and inclusive work environment with dedicated colleagues
  • An opportunity to become an expert in a topic of high importance for realising Sustainable Development Goals
  • An existing international network of relevant scientists, designers, and artists
  • exciting and stimulating tasks in a strong international academic environment 
  • favourable terms in the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund
  • employee benefits

Salary and conditions

PhD candidates are remunerated in code 1017, and are normally remunerated at gross from NOK 491 200 per annum before tax, depending on qualifications and seniority. From the salary, 2% is deducted as a contribution to the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund.

The period of employment is 3 years with the possibility of up to 1 year extension with 25% teaching duties in agreement with the department.

Appointment to a PhD position requires that you are admitted to the PhD programme in Design within three months of employment, and that you participate in an organized PhD programme during the employment period.

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 you can be present at and accessible to the institution daily.

About the application

The application and supporting documentation to be used as the basis for the assessment must be in English. Candidates are required to include a motivation letter (1-2 A4) in their application which addresses their motivation, suitability, and ambitions for the position.

Publications and other scientific work must follow the application. Please note that applications are only evaluated based on the information available on the application deadline. You should ensure that your application shows clearly how your skills and experience meet the criteria which are set out above.

The application must include:

  • CV, certificates and diplomas 
  • transcripts and diplomas for bachelor's and master's degrees. If you have not completed the master's degree, you must submit a confirmation that the master's thesis has been submitted. 
  • A copy of the master's thesis. If you recently have submitted your master's thesis, you can attach a draft of the thesis. Documentation of a completed master's degree must be presented before taking up the position. 
  • Name and address of three referees 
  • If you have publications or other relevant research work 

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.

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.

In the evaluation of which candidate is best qualified, emphasis will be placed on education, experience and personal and interpersonal qualities. Motivation, ambitions, and potential will also count in the assessment of the candidates.

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.

If you have any questions about the position, please contact Prof. Casper Boks, via email only (

If you have any questions about the recruitment process, please contact HR Adviser Astrid S. Lyngby, email

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 81771660 when applying.

Application deadline: 07.01.22

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 Design

We are located in both Trondheim (industrial design) and Gjøvik (graphic design and web technology). Both groups have expertise in interaction design and share research interests in health and welfare technology. The design environment links many technology communities at NTNU, and nationally the Department has extensive collaboration with Norwegian industrial companies. The Department of Design is one of four departments in the Faculty of Architecture and Design.

Deadline: 7th January 2022
Employer: NTNU - Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Municipality: Trondheim
Scope: Fulltime
Duration: Temporary
Place of service: Trondheim