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Postdoc Optimization of a 4th generation district heating network (f/m)

Technische Universiteit Eindhoven. Eindhoven (Niederlande), 27.02.2018

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.

Position (Post-doctoral) Reseacher
Department(s) Department of Mechanical Engineering

Job description
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, since they allow flexible use of different heat sources, use of (industrial) waste heat, and use of large scale (seasonal) heat storage. One of the main drawbacks of the current (3rd generation) district heating networks, however, is the high heat losses in the network. In the 3rd generation district heating networks, supply temperatures between 70°C and 90°C are used, but various concepts for 4th generation district heating are being developed, where supply temperatures go down to below 70°C, as low as 40°C. This low supply temperature will reduce the heat losses dramatically, 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, so the capacity for heat storage within the network will become an increasingly important aspect.

Problem description
In this project a highly innovative concept for 4th generation district heating is developed, which promises to reduce heat losses in the network by up to 50%, whilst supplying all the heat for both space heating and domestic hot water from the district heating network (without the need for domestic hot water post heating). This unique concept is based on using a variable supply temperature in the network, combined with the placement of local heat storage tanks for domestic hot water preparation in all individual houses connected to the district heating network. Each tank will be charged periodically to a high temperature (e.g. 60°C) 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 (e.g. 40°C, or weather compensated supply temperature). To make this possible a simple and cost- effective control system is needed, so that the substations remain cost effective, reliable, and easy to install. 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 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

One of the main challenges is to develop operating strategies for such a variable temperature network, so that the heat losses of the district heating network are minimized, and a safe (legionella) and comfortable supply of domestic hot water is guaranteed for the users of the network. To this end, extensive research using computer modelling is required, to establish both the optimum operating strategy, and the optimum design of the district heating network and the substations.

  • The development of a computer model (probably programmed in Matlab) to simulate the behavior of a variable-temperature district heating network with substations that include local heat stores for domestic hot water preparation, using the TDBV technology for charging control of the local heat stores. 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 Master degree in Applied Mathematics, Physics or Engineering (Mechanical, Electrical or Sustainable Energy);
  • 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 1.5 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 Information
More information can be obtained from: Application 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)