Postdoc Optimization of a 4th generation district heating network (V35.2881)

Postdoc Optimization of a 4th generation district heating network

The Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) has the following vacancy: Postdoc position on "Optimization of a variable temperature 4th generation district heating network using the CONICO thermo-Differential valve technology" at the Energy Technology group, Department of Mechanical Engineering.
(Post-doctoral) Researcher
Department of Mechanical Engineering
Date off
Reference number

Job description

The Department of Mechanical Engineering considers as the core of their activities design, realization and analysis of new products, processes and materials. Besides the basis of (solid and fluid) mechanics, materials, control and thermodynamics, parts of mathematics, physics, chemistry and computing science are important supporting tools. The field is explored by a combination of modeling using fundamental concepts and applied engineering and technology. Automotive Engineering Science and Micro- amp; Nano-Scale Engineering are important departmental themes. The Mechanical Engineering Department comprises about 1000 students and 250 staff members.  

The section Energy Technology performs research on heat transfer and thermofluids engineering. Energy Technology (ET) addresses engineering problems associated with energy conversion processes such as transport, utilization, implementation etc., and comprises many different disciplines. The research of our group is focused on three primary topics: heat transfer and transitional flows, microscale interphase processes, and small-scale renewable energy systems. One of the research projects is focusing on solar thermal in combination with heat storage. 

The present project is performed in close collaboration with Conico Valves bv, Veldhoven, the Netherlands. Conico Valves develops and manufactures the innovative Thermo-Differential Valves. More information about CONICO can be found on The selected postdoc candidates will have interviews at both TU/e and Conico Valves.


In the sustainable energy infrastructure of the future, district heating networks are expected to play an important role. In the 1st generation district heating networks steam was used as the transport medium. In the 2nd generation use was made of water at overpressure with an inlet temperature of around 1200C. Triggered by the oil crisis in the seventies the 3rd generation district heating networks were introduced with inflow temperatures going down to 700C to limit heat losses and, as such, strive for higher efficiencies. In the 4th generation the temperatures go down even further to around 400C for the inlet temperature. This low temperature will reduce the heat losses even further and will open the possibility to use low-grade heat from industry or other sustainable sources like geothermic (in combination with heat pumps), thermal collectors or environmental heat (in combination with heat pumps). One of the most important challenges with the introduction of the 4th generation lies in a secure hot tap water supply for the built environment, among other things because of the potential threat of legionella contamination. The district heating network of the future should also be able to cope with a variable supply and demand of thermal energy. To make this possible a control system can be installed which in general is complicated to operate and expensive to install.

Problem description

In this project an innovative solution will be studied for a smooth introduction of the 4th generation of district heating networks without making use of complicated and expensive control system technology. The solution is based on using a variable temperature in the network, combined with the placement of local heat storage tanks in all individual houses connected to the district heating network. Each tank will be charged periodically to the minimal temperature needed to avoid legionella contamination and to prepare hot tap water, by operating the network at high temperatures for short periods of time. At other times the heat network operates at low temperatures for space heating. To make this possible a simple and cost-effective control system is needed. To this end Conico Valves developed the world's first one-way valve for heat flow, or 'heat diode'; the Thermo-Differential Bypass Valve (TDBV), which will automatically switch (and balance) the flow to the local heat storage tanks. This way a cheap to install and easy to control 4th generation district heating network can be built, which only has a control system at the central level (at the heat source), without the need for decentralized control functionalities.

For the exact operation of the recently developed thermo-differential actuator technology, one is referred to the demo video on youtube


  • The development of a computer model (probably programmed in Matlab) to simulate the behavior of a low-temperature district heating network equipped with the TDBV technology. The model will be used to simulate the influence of various heat source combinations, different temperature levels, different heating strategies and various types of heat storage methods on the total yield of the system. The goal is to determine optimized operating strategies, through an understanding of the interplay between the operating parameters of the central control system (temperature, pressure, flow), and the TDBVs 
  • The model will be validated with lab experiments. To this end a small-scale district heating network needs to be designed, constructed and tested, consisting of at least three heat storage tanks.

Job requirements

We are looking for a candidate who meets the following requirements:

  • A doctoral degree in Applied Mathematics, Physics or Engineering;
  • A doctoral degree in the field of sustainable energy technology is a plus;
  • A good background in fluid mechanics, heat transfer and programming experience with Matlab;
  • Excellent communication skills and written/verbal knowledge of the English language;
  • Previous experience with subjects related to the analysis of energy systems is a pre.


Conditions of employment

We offer:

  • A challenging job at a dynamic and ambitious University
  • An appointment for two years (start date as soon as possible)
  • The gross monthly salary is in accordance with the Collective Labor Agreement of the Dutch Universities (scale 10), depending on your experience.
  • An attractive package of fringe benefits (including excellent work facilities, end of the year allowance and sport facilities)

Information and application


More information can be obtained from:


Please send your application with extended curriculum vitae. Besides a list of marks of MSc-courses the curriculum vitae should also include a list of references and a list of international conference and journal contributions (if any). Interested candidates are encouraged to apply by using the button "Apply now".