PhD position Flexible design and operation of a 4GDH network (V35.3544)

PhD position Flexible design and operation of a 4GDH network

The Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) has the following vacancy PhD position on HeatFlex Flexible design and operation of future 4th-generation district heating networks. (V35.3544)
Faculteit Werktuigbouwkunde
Impuls-vacatures (promovendi)


Energy Technology group, Department of Mechanical Engineering.

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 lines is focusing on the implementation of renewable energy sources in district heating networks.

Short background

The current energy grids for power (electricity grid) and heat (district heating) need to evolve into a combined flexible structure with many more (sustainable) distributed energy production sources. Intermediate small- and large-scale storage of energy is indispensable. Besides, control of all these energy flows in the system becomes increasingly important.

Problem description

This project aims to develop a reliable modeling tool for a low-temperature district heating network. It can be used for the design of such a network connected to various renewable heat sources including geothermal heat, and can be used for control of an existing district heating network. Obviously there are many commercial tools available that capture the physics of the system and its components (energyPRO, Simulink), but they have the disadvantage of not being open-source and they are also not optimized for transient behaviour. Moreover, modules for geothermal heat (as thermal source) and heat storage (as thermal buffer) are not available yet.

Note that although the exact physical details of some storage materials are still subject of investigation, a lumped parameter approach can still accurately describe the system properties on a higher hierarchical level in terms of reaction time, energy density, power and operational temperature (model reduction approach).


The main objectives and results of the project are:

  • Development of compact modules for different thermal energy storage components for heating and cooling, based on model reduction techniques.
  • Development of optimization models involving the storage components and the conversion of multiple energy carriers (i.e. electricity, thermal energy (heat/cold), gas) within the district heating network.
  • Investigation on district heating network topology optimization concerning energy producers, consumers, and energy storage sizing and placement including control.
  • Three special reference scenarios will be studied.
  1. One in which thermal energy storage in the district heating network is realized through small local thermal storage. This is obviously a very realistic scenario on the scale of individual households. Usually these networks would demand extensive active steering, but the availability of thermo-differential valves would potentially facilitate passive control.
  2. One in which thermal energy storage in the district heating network is combined with cooling systems, as is often the case in more extreme climate zones;
  3. One in which the performance of a district heating network combined with heat storage is compared to the all-electric case with heat pumps, taking into account the variable availability and pricing of the energy carriers. This will provide realistic urban and district scenarios for local authorities.

This project will develop a reliable modeling tools for a low-temperature (30-60 centigrades) district heating network, which can be used for the optimal design of such a network connected to various renewable energy production sources and can be used for control of such a network.



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

  • A Master degree in Mechanical Engineering, Sustainable Energy Technology (or a similar study) or Applied Physics;
  • A good background in fluid mechanics and heat transfer;
  • A good background in numerical modeling using CFD and in programming 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.



We offer:

  • A challenging job at a dynamic and ambitious University.
  • An appointment as a PhD student for four years (starting date as soon as possible)
  • Gross monthly salaries are in accordance with the Collective Labor Agreement of the Dutch Universities (CAO NU), increasing from € 2.266 per month initially, to € 2.897 in the fourth year.
  • An attractive package of fringe benefits (including excellent work facilities, end of the year allowance and sport facilities)

Informatie en sollicitatie

More information can be obtained from:



•           Dr. C.C.M. Rindt, e-mail


Please use the button “Apply now” to send in 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).