Veronika Kovzel
Phone: +49 351 260 3231

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For any questions, do not hesitate to ask:
Dr. Norbert Weber Tel.: +49 351 260 3112,
Dr. Tom Weier Tel.: +49 351 260 2226

Place of work:

Working hours:
29,25 h/week

14 November 2020

Online application
English / German
Job-Id: 127/2020 (1048)

The HZDR is committed to equal opportunity employment and we strongly encourage applications from qualified female candidates. We also carefully consider all applications from job candidates with severe disabilities.

Bautzner Landstraße 400
01328 Dresden

PhD Student (m/f/d): Numerical simulation of molten salt batteries

As member of the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centers, the HZDR employs about 1,200 people. The Center's focus is on interdisciplinary research in the areas energy, health and matter.

The Institute of Fluid Dynamics is conducting basic and applied research in the fields of thermo-fluid dynamics and magnetohydrodynamics in order to improve the sustainability, the energy efficiency and the safety of industrial processes.

As part of the Institute, the Department of Magnetohydrodynamics, invites applications as PhD student (f/m/d): Numerical simulation of molten salt batteries, provided that the funds will be approved. The position will be available from 1st January 2021. The employment contract is limited to three years.


At HZDR, electrochemists, physicists, and mechanical as well as electrical engineers work closely together to develop the next generation of stationary energy storage. The department of magnetohydrodynamics has ten years of experience in high-temperature energy storage, and is worldwide leading in fluid dynamics of and mass transfer in liquid-metal batteries.

Within the upcoming Horizon 2020 project “SOLSTICE”, HZDR will coordinate a consortium of 12 European partners from science and industry focusing on the development of Na-Zn batteries. Such cells operate at elevated temperature, feature extreme current densities, an unprecedented cycle life, a negligible environmental impact and can easily be recycled. Most importantly, the extremely competitive price and the abundant active materials make Na-Zn cells an ideal candidate for large-scale electricity storage.

Fundamental research will focus on refractory materials, electrochemistry, recycling, electrolyte-development, mass transfer, as well as cell sealing. The final aim is to build two different demonstrators: one 300°C mid-temperature cell featuring a solid-electrolyte, and one high-temperature battery using a molten-salt electrolyte at 600°C.

HZDR will coordinate the project. It will be responsible for investigating mass transfer by means of neutron radiography and numerical modelling. Finally, two demonstrators shall be assembled and tested in Dresden.


The first task for the successful candidate (f/m/d) will be the development of a numerical model for molten-salt batteries. The latter will build on top of a vast number of existing battery models, which are implemented in the open-source CFD library OpenFOAM. It shall finally comprise electrochemistry, solidification as well as mass- and heat-transfer.

After validation, the mid- and high-temperature standard cell shall be modelled in order to understand the effect of different flow regimes on the cell performance. This work will be conducted in tight collaboration with the experiments performed in Norway and Switzerland. Strong communication skills and willingness to work in an international team are therefore indispensable. The long-term objective is to optimise and to prepare the two battery demonstrators, which will be set-up in Dresden.

As a third task, the neutron-imaging cell experiments, which will be conducted at HZDR, shall be numerically supported by providing a digital twin. Here, the focus will be again on the understanding of the interplay between mass transfer and electrochemistry.


  • development of a complex numerical model for molten salt batteries in OpenFOAM, including electrochemistry, fluid dynamics and solidification
  • modelling of the mid- and high-temperature standard cell
  • modelling of the neutron-imaging cells
  • close collaboration with the partners in Norway and Switzerland
  • publication of the results


  • very good university degree (Master/ Diploma) in mechanical engineering, electrochemistry or in a related subject
  • independent, structured and solution-oriented working methods
  • strong motivation to work in a multidisciplinary and international environment
  • excellent orally and written English communication skills
  • intrinsic motivation to publish scientific results

Qualification (advantageous):

  • experience in numerical simulation, especially in the finite volume method
  • experience in C++ and OpenFOAM
  • education in fluid dynamics (heat and mass transfer)
  • education in electrochemistry


  • X. Lu et al. A novel low-cost sodium-zinc chloride battery. Energy & Environmental Sci. 6 (2013) 1837.
  • J. Xu et al. Na-Zn liquid metal battery. J. Power Sources 332 (2016) 274.

We offer:

  • A vibrant research community in an open, diverse, and international work environment
  • Scientific excellence and extensive professional networking opportunities
  • Salary and social benefits in conformity with the provisions of the Collective Agreement TVöD-Bund
  • 30 vacation days per year
  • Company pension scheme (VBL)
  • A good work/life balance for which we offer assistance in the form of:
    • flexible working hours
    • in-house health management

Kindly submit your completed application (including cover letter, CV, diplomas/transcripts, etc.) only via our Online-application-system.

Online application English / German