PhD Candidate within Process Engineering/Artificial Intelligence/Process Control

Trondheim, Norway
01 Sep 2022
End of advertisement period
01 Oct 2022
Contract Type
Full Time

About the position

For a position as a PhD Candidate, the goal is a completed doctoral education up to an obtained doctoral degree.  

This project proposed developing a disruptive technological framework powered by Artificial Intelligence that connects the fundamental scale of a chemical process to the process scale. It will be possible to optimize these two scales simultaneously through the developed approach. Furthermore, the project seeks to propose a framework that autonomously finds novel operational and chemical routes to achieve the best process performance. In a modular approach, the AI framework will use the system's constitutive elements to define the best process structure given an application case.

The framework will be applied to develop a new process for converting CO2 into CH4. Hence, addressing two main problems, modern society faces the energy and environmental crises. Converting CO2 into fuel might be a more efficient way to deal with greenhouse gas emissions. This can be done by hydrogenation of the CO2. Therefore, green H2 can be used in the process. The straight employment of H2 as fuel is associated with several problems, such as storage and distribution. Hence, this is also a way to leverage the potential of the green H2 while using the already existing infrastructure for storing, distribution, and consumption of CH4. On the other hand, producing CH4 from CO2 might close the fuel consumption and CO2 emission cycle, developing a circular economy for fuel production.

This new process will be based on a simple fixed bed adsorption and reaction unit. Such a unit will be a kind of "lego block" following a modular strategy. The AI ​​models and optimization algorithms will be free to explore new modes of operation. The system will have as decision variables the combinations of these basic units, the operating conditions, and the economic and environmental criteria. Such an approach will be guided by supervised (in an optimization mesh) and unsupervised learning (the agent also acts as an optimization algorithm). On the other hand, the process adsorbent/catalyst will also be designed by the molecular scale AI tools and integrated into the process scale models.

Your supervisor is Associate Professor Idelfonso Bessa.

Duties of the position

  • Develop the process's phenomenological model
  • Develop the AI algorithms to generate adsorbents and catalysts structures
  • Integrate the AI algorithms and the process model
  • Development of non-supervised AI algorithms for process design
  • Build a software-in-the-loop framework to validate the proposal
  • Carry out qualitative research activities such as systematic literature reviews using bibliometrics tools
  • Take part in mentoring undergraduate and master's students
  • Take part in the mandatory Ph.D. research education program, conduct independent research, publish the result in recognized scientific journals and present them at international conferences.

Required selection criteria

  • You must have a professionally relevant background in Chemical Engineering, cyclic adsorption processes, artificial intelligence, optimization theory, synthesis of catalysts, modeling of dynamic systems, or similar
  • Your education must correspond to a five-year Norwegian degree program, where 120 credits are obtained at master's level
  • You must have a strong academic background from your previous studies and an average grade from the master's degree program, or equivalent education, which is equal to B or better compared with NTNU's grading scale. If you do not have letter grades from previous studies, you must have an equally good academic basis. If you have a weaker grade background, you may be assessed if you can document that you are particularly suitable for a PhD education.
  • You need a strong background in the topic of the research project
  • You need strong experience in using methodologies and tools requested by the project (Preferred Methodologies: Mathematical modeling for system design and applied artificial intelligence; Preferred Tools: simulation software, programming)
  • You must meet the requirements for admission to the faculty's doctoral program Chemical Engineering (
  • Good written and oral English.

The appointment is to be made in accordance with  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

  • Strong analytical skills and interest in quantitative approaches
  • Competence in using programming languages Python, Matlab, Julia, and gPROMS
  • Experience in mentoring undergraduate students
  • Experience in uncertainty analysis of optimization procedure
  • Knowledge of the following AI approaches: Generative, Classification, and Reinforcement
  • Experience in both multi-objective and single-objective optimization
  • It is beneficial if the applicant has some previous experience in research
  • You need strong experience in using methodologies and tools requested by the project
    • Preferred Methodologies: Mathematical modeling for system design and applied artificial intelligence; Preferred Tools: simulation software, programming

Personal characteristics

  • Ability to work independently as well as in teams
  • Good communication skills
  • Strong writing capabilities

Emphasis will be placed on personal and interpersonal qualities.

We offer

Salary and conditions

As a PhD candidate (code 1017) you are normally paid from gross NOK 501 200 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 25 % teaching duties.

Appointment to a PhD position requires that you are admitted to the PhD programme in Chemical Engineering ( 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.

Publications and other scientific work must follow the application. Please note that your application will be considered based solely on information submitted by the application deadline. You must therefore ensure that your application clearly demonstrates how your skills and experience fulfil the criteria specified above.

The application must include:

  • Motivationletter (Max 1 A4-page)
  • CV and certificates
  • 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. Documentation of a completed master's degree must be presented before taking up the position.
  • Project proposal
  • Name and contact information 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.

We will take joint work into account. If it is difficult to identify your efforts in the joint work, you must enclose a short 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

NTNU believes that inclusion and diversity is our strength. We want to recruit people with different competencies, educational backgrounds, life experiences and perspectives to contribute to solving our social responsibilities within education and research. We will facilitate for our employees’ needs.

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.

A public list of applicants with name, age, job title and municipality of residence is prepared after the application deadline. If you want to reserve yourself from entry on the public applicant list, this must be justified. Assessment will be made in accordance with current legislation. You will be notified if the reservation is not accepted.

If you have any questions about the position, please contact Associate Professor Idelfonso Bessa, email: If you have any questions about the recruitment process, please contact HR-consultant Andrea Sommervold, e-mail:

If you think this looks interesting and in line with your qualifications, please submit your application electronically via with your CV, diplomas and certificates attached. Applications submitted elsewhere will not be considered. Upon request, you must be able to obtain certified copies of your documentation.  

Application deadline: 01.10.2022

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 Chemical Engineering 

We take chemistry from laboratory scale to industrial production. This demands a wide range of knowledge, from molecular processes and nanotechnology to building and operation of large processing plants. We educate graduates for some of Norway's most important industries. The Department of Chemical Engineering is one of eight departments in the Faculty of Natural Sciences.  

Deadline 1st October 2022
Employer NTNU - Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Municipality Trondheim
Scope Fulltime
Duration Temporary
Place of service Trondheim

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