The decarbonisation of the heating and cooling sectors is an essential milestone to achieve the ambitious climate and energy targets of the European Union. Among the others, Heat Pumps represent a promising technology to accomplish this goal. Within this category sorption heat pumps are very interesting for their eco-friendly properties.
The involved research groups work on these topics and strive to continuous innovation in the field.
The research group at KU Leuven, belonging to the Mechanical Engineering Department and located at the KU Leuven campus in Geel and linked to the research activities in Energyville, has a wide experience in Heat pump technology and system modelling.
The Emerging Sustainable Technologies Laboratory (ESTech Lab) at University of Edinburgh, belonging to the Institute for Materials and Processes of the School of Engineering, has knowledge and expertise in nanoporous materials integration in processes to achieve energy savings compared to traditional solutions.

Thisproject is focused on adsorption heat pumps (AHP) in renewable heatingapplications. The project aims at overcoming the existing barriers to introducethese systems on the market by finding a good trade-off between increasedenergy performance and cost reduction. The research activities are two folds:

  • aholistic modelling approach will be developed to optimize both the design andcontrol of AHPs;
  • noveland performing sorption materials will be proposed and tested.

A strictintegration between the two above mentioned activities will be performed in theproject in order to effectively prepare new sorbents with the requestedproperties and to optimize the adsorption bed of the heat pump for their use.Thanks to the approach from nano (material level scale) to meter (system levelscale) scale, it will be defined a holistic methodology for AHP design and itwill be supported the development of commercial AHPs with novel and affordableadsorbent materials.

The PhDcandidate will be responsible for both the modelling of the system and theexperimental test of the adsorption material, respectively at KU Leuven and atUniversity of Edinburgh.


  • Master Degree (MEng or MSc degree orequivalent) in a relevant field for the project content (mechanicalengineering, chemical engineering, energy engineering or related subjects).
  • Graduate degree awards achieved 2:1 (orequivalent): Upper Second-Class Honours (60-70%)
  • Proficient knowledge of English (please check the University’s English language requirements for The University of Edinburgh.The English proficiency test scores accepted by KU Leuven are the TOEFLcertificate, IELTS certificate, and Cambridge C1 Advanced (CAE) or C2Proficiency (CPE) certificate, check on
  • Experience with programming languages isconsidered beneficial (software that can be used in the project: Python, Matlab,Modelica)
  • Willingness to cooperate in an open andmulti-disciplinary environment, creative mind set and ability to takeinitiatives

We offer a 4 yearcontract as PhD student in a joint doctorate at KU Leuven and University of Edinburgh.The contract can start after October the 1st 2021 (to be agreed). Thecandidate will attain a joint KU Leuven/The University of Edinburgh PhD degreereflecting skills in modelling, design and testing of new renewable energytechnologies along with fundamental knowledge of material properties.

The PhD student willspend some months at KU Leuven in Belgium and some months at University ofEdinburgh in UK to accomplish the research plan.

PhD information: