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Advertising division: IEK-3 - Electrochemical Process Engineering
Reference number: 2019M-026, energy engineering, energy systems engineering, process engineering, mechanical engineering, sustainable energy supply, chemical engineering

Master Thesis: Improved Meta-Analysis of Sustainability Assessments for Hydrogen Production Technologies

Start of work: at once/by arrangement

In the light of the international climate protection goals a massive reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is indispensable. While the expansion of renewable energies seems to be a robust trend, the associated challenges of their variable feed-in require further developed solutions of short- and long-term energy storage. The conversion of electricity to hydrogen by means of electrolysis also referred to as power to gas, offers a promising technology pathway for seasonal storage of energy and at the same time being a carbon free fuel for the transport sector.

At the IEK-3 international energy concepts are developed to convert surplus energy from intermittent renewable energy sources into hydrogen and make it available to other energy sectors like mobility or industry. To complement those operation-focused analyses Life Cycle Assessments (LCA) can provide additional insight into the overall sustainability of specific technologies. Up to now various LCA of single or selected hydrogen production technologies have been done, but vary in results which limits the ability to inform decision makers adequately. A systematic and sound meta-analysis of those LCAs can reveal reasons behind diverging results and show options how to extract the most crucial insights.

Your Task
Within the scope of this thesis, a meta-analysis has to be performed based on existing LCA for a given set of hydrogen generation technologies. This set comprises the most promising options for a future energy system. For those technologies a thorough literature review forms the basis of all further steps. Afterwards, the most relevant sustainability criteria have to be selected in a systematic way. The identified literature will be analyzed in terms of their differences in assumptions, data, method and finally results. In order to facilitate this and to extract robust insights form this meta-analysis possible options for improvements of the underlying method shall be identified and implemented. This will be complemented by a model-based optimization in order to compare the performance of the hydrogen generation technologies systematically.

The objective of the master thesis is to analyze and reveal the robust results of sustainability assessments based on existing LCA studies and implement those sustainability criteria in a model-based technology comparison within the in-house model framework FINE. The following tasks are to be dealt with in the course of this thesis:

  • Identify relevant LCA studies on a set of hydrogen production technologies
  • Select sustainability criteria as the basis for your further analysis
  • Determine the differences in the underlying assumptions, methods and in results by performing a meta-analysis
  • Improve the method of the meta-analysis to extract robust and crucial insights
  • Apply the improved approach and derive robust insights from the meta-analysis
  • Implement and apply the derived results in the in-house model FINE to compare the hydrogen generation technologies in accordance to different criteria
  • Discuss those insights critically as risks and opportunities

Your profile

  • Very good academic records in energy engineering, energy systems engineering, process engineering, mechanical engineering, sustainable energy supply, chemical engineering or a comparable field
  • Interest in hydrogen technologies and their potential role in future energy systems
  • High individual motivation, good analytical skills and fluent command of English
  • Basic knowledge of Life Cycle Assessment

Our offer

  • A pleasant working environment within a highly competent, international team in one of the most prestigious research facilities in Europe
  • You will be remunerated, supported by top-end scientific and technical infrastructure as well as closely guided by experts
  • You will have the opportunity to work with keen researchers from various scientific fields and be part of designing the future European energy system


Dr. Heidi U. Heinrichs

Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH
Institute of Electrochemical Process Engineering (IEK-3)
52425 Jülich

Tel. 02461 61 9166