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Faculty of Engineering
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

PhD position within the Project High-Performance Nano Insulation Materials (Hi-Per NIM) (IV-185/17)

The aim of the Hi-Per NIM project is to develop fundamental knowledge required for manufacturing environmentally friendly high-performance thermal insulation materials. These materials combine low thermal conductivity (< 18 mW/(mK)), good mechanical properties and durability. Such materials will contribute to improve the energy efficiency of buildings and industrial processes. Buildings account for about 40 % of the global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and improved energy efficiency is the most cost-effective means of reducing GHG emissions within this sector. These thermal insulation materials may also be used to insulate pipelines for multiphase oil and gas transport. This is of special importance since 20-25 % of total remaining hydrocarbon resources are believed to be located in the Arctic regions, where low temperatures pose new challenges. Additional uses include protective clothing for harsh environments and insulation of storage tanks.

Two state-of-the-art thermal insulation solutions and materials are vacuum insulation panels (VIP) and aerogel-based materials. A fresh VIP can have a thermal conductivity as low as 4 mW/(mK), while aerogel granules typically have a thermal conductivity of ~ 18 mW/(mK) at ambient pressure. Both can be used for insulating buildings, pipelines and storage tanks, but both also have serious drawbacks. The efficiency of a VIP will be dramatically reduced if the enclosing foil is broken, resulting in loss of vacuum. Therefore, a VIP can not be cut and fitted on site, and perforation with e.g. a nail would be detrimental. This drawback is partly solved for aerogels. They are highly porous nanomaterials where the gas thermal conductivity is reduced due to the small size of the internal pores. Aerogels are more user-friendly than VIP, but they exhibit substantially higher thermal conductivities, and dust formation can be a problem. Their areas of use are limited by high manufacturing cost and poor mechanical performance. A long range of products incorporating aerogels have recently met the market. Examples are rock wool based insulation, coatings, floor boards and insulating plaster. These products show improved mechanical stability, but also an overall increased thermal conductivity. A key challenge is therefore to develop environmentally friendly high-performance insulation materials with superior mechanical properties, lower thermal conductivity and lower cost than the currently available aerogels products. The concept of nano insulation materials (NIM) is based on theoretical evaluations and calculations of thermal conductivity in porous materials, e.g. by utilization of the Knudsen effect. Our current approach for synthesis and optimization of NIM includes application of theoretical concepts and modelling. Possibilities for up-scaling and material durability are crucial aspects that will be addressed, as are life cycle assessment (LCA), and health, safety and environmental (HSE) issues. Hence, the Hi-Per NIM project represents a powerful, versatile and holistic approach to tailor-make thermal insulation materials for buildings and industry.

The Hi-Per NIM project includes the research partners NTNU, SINTEF Building and Infrastructure, SINTEF Materials and Chemistry, and University of Oslo (UiO). The project is funded by the Research Council of Norway through the Nano2021 program. The PhD candidate is expected to collaborate with other PhD students and material scientists in our team. After the compulsory residence period of one year at NTNU in Trondheim, the PhD candidate is foreseen to collaborate and work in both the laboratories of NTNU and SINTEF Building and Infrastructure in Trondheim and in the laboratories of SINTEF Materials and Chemistry in Oslo. The PhD candidate is foreseen to carry out both experimental work on material synthesis and characterization and to work on theoretical modelling.


The PhD applicant should have an experimental and theoretical background in one or several of the following fields: Physics, chemistry, materials science, nano materials science and technology, new materials development, and thermal physics.


We are looking for a candidate with strong grades. The candidate must hold the degree Master of Science in physics, chemistry, materials science, or nanoscience (candidates about to obtain their MSc can also apply). The candidate must not already hold a PhD, regardless of field. The candidate is expected to contribute to both the experimental (synthesis and characterization) and computational tasks in the project. An interest for sustainability issues like e.g. life cycle analysis will be regarded as positive, however, a background in this field is not a requirement. The candidate should preferably have:

  • A strong computational background within the fields of quantum mechanics (quantum chemistry or quantum solid state physics), molecular dynamics, finite-element simulations, and/or Monte Carlo simulations. A MSc thesis with strong computational elements as mentioned above will be regarded as positive.
  • Experience in chemical laboratory activities, at least from undergraduate chemistry courses, as the project is very oriented towards synthesis and characterization of new thermal insulation materials.

  • University-level courses in quantum mechanics.

  • A general background in materials science, both theoretical and experimental. 

The PhD position requires spoken and written fluency in the English language. Non-Norwegian applicants must document their level in English, preferably by presenting an official language test report.


The position has a duration of either three or four years (to be decided at a later stage), where the latter one comprises 25 % assistant load, primarily linked to the development of research and teaching.


PhD Candidates are remunerated in code 1017, and are normally remunerated at gross NOK 432 300 before tax. There will be a 2 % deduction to the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund from gross wage.

Engagement as a PhD Candidate is done in accordance with “Regulation concerning terms and conditions of employment for the posts of post-doctoral research fellow, research fellow, research assistant and resident”, given by the Ministry of Education and Research of 19.07.2010. The goal of the positions is to obtain a PhD degree. Applicants will engage in an organized PhD training program, and appointment requires approval of the applicants plan for a PhD study within three months from the date of commencement. See http://www.ntnu.edu/ivt/phd for more information. 

For further information about the position, please contact Professor Bjørn Petter Jelle, phone number +47-73593377. If you have questions related to the application process, attachments etc., please contact Kristian Pettersen, email kristian.pettersen@ntnu.no.

The engagement is to be made in accordance with the regulations in force concerning State Employees and Civil Servants. The positions adhere to the Norwegian Government's policy of balanced ethnicity, age and gender. Women are encouraged to apply.

The application
The application must contain information of educational background and work experience. Application, including a motivation letter, a project proposal (1-2 A4 pages) on the above mentioned research field (nano insulation materials), CV, diplomas, grade transcripts and other enclosures, should be submitted electronically through http://www.jobbnorge.no in one single pdf-file.

Candidates from universities outside Norway are kindly requested to send a diploma supplement or similar documentation, which describes in detail the study and grade system and the rights for further studies associated with their obtained degree.

Mark the application with IV-185/17.

Application deadline is October 29 2017

According to the new Freedom of Information Act, information concerning the applicant may be made public even if the applicant has requested not to be included in the list of applicants.

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Om stillingen

  • Søknadsfrist
    29. oktober 2017
  • Arbeidsgiver
    NTNU - Norwegian University of Science and Technology
  • Nettside
  • Kommune
  • Arbeidssted
    Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • Jobbnorge-ID
  • Intern-ID
  • Omfang
  • Varighet

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