PhD scholarship in Environmental Sustainability Assessment for the Aeronautics Sector: focus on Water Footprint Methodology

Danmarks Tekniske Universitet


The Quantitative Sustainability Assessment (QSA) group in the Sustainability Division of DTU department of Technology, Management and Economics (DTU Management) covers research and development of scientifically based engineering methods and tools for decision support for environmental and social sustainability. We invite applications for a 3-year PhD scholarship in the field of Environmental Sustainability Assessment with particular focus on developing a methodology for quantifying freshwater impacts through the life cycle of aircrafts.

The project is positioned within environmental sustainability assessment catered to the needs of the aeronautics sector. It will rely on the field of life cycle assessment, in particular the subfields of life cycle impact assessment and life cycle inventory, for its method development part, with the sector of aeronautics as specific application field.

Responsibilities and tasks
The project aims to develop a consistent methodology for calculating the 'water footprint' of an aircraft that is all impacts exerted by the aircraft product system (life cycle) on freshwater (regarded as a resource, material and emission) and its subsequent damages to ecosystems, human health and natural resources.

Key activities include:

  • Developing and applying procedures and methods to perform inventory analysis of the water abstraction from and discharge back to the hydrological cycle, including keeping track of the contaminants discharged with the water or to freshwater bodies from processes in the aircraft life cycle,
  • Developing methods for assessing impacts on freshwater resource availability from the freshwater abstraction taking into account the freshwater availability at the location of abstraction and the duration of the abstraction ('freshwater occupation'),
  • Development of methods for assessing environmental impacts from the contaminants emitted with the freshwater or to freshwater systems from processes in the aircraft life cycle, including ecotoxicity to freshwater organisms, toxicity on human health from exposure to contaminants via freshwater, eutrophication of freshwater and marine ecosystems due to release of nutrients, human health impacts due to exposure to pathogens, thermal pollution
  • Explore ways to aggregate the different types of freshwater impacts into one score representing the water footprint of the aircraft.

The successful candidate will contribute to improving the scientific methods used for environmental impact assessment in the eco-design of aircrafts. S/he will work closely with another candidate working on a joint PhD project (also in life cycle impact assessment method development for aeronautics, focusing on water footprint).

Both PhD students will be based in QSA/DTU and will collaborate. The two PhD candidates will be part of a larger team of PhD students, who will work towards improving the scientific support for eco-design of aircrafts under the auspices of Clean Sky Programme ( Interactions with stakeholders in the Clean Sky Programme will therefore also be part of the project.

Candidates should have a two-year master's degree (120 ECTS points) or a similar degree with an academic level equivalent to a two-year master's degree.

A strong background in environmental impact assessment and in the development and use of life cycle impact assessment methods is highly recommended. This includes skills in as many of the following topics as possible: environmental modelling related to freshwater impact assessment (use of freshwater as resources but also toxic impacts from freshwater contamination), material flow analysis, and building of life cycle inventories.

Advanced skills in programming and data management are also required. Additional knowledge and/or experience of the aeronautics sector will be an advantage, but is not required.

A high motivation for research, excellent communication skills in English (both writing and speaking) are essential for a successful application.

Approval and Enrolment
The scholarship for the PhD degree is subject to academic approval, and the candidate will be enrolled in one of the general degree programmes at DTU. For information about our enrolment requirements and the general planning of the PhD study programme, please see the DTU PhD Guide.

The assessment of the applicants will be made by Prof. Michael Hauschild and Assoc. Prof. Alexis Laurent according to the qualification requirements stated above.

We offer

DTU is a leading technical university globally recognized for the excellence of its research, education, innovation and scientific advice. We offer a rewarding and challenging job in an international environment. We strive for academic excellence in an environment characterized by collegial respect and academic freedom tempered by responsibility.

Salary and appointment terms
The appointment will be based on the collective agreement with the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations. The allowance will be agreed upon with the relevant union. The period of employment is 3 years.

The workplace will be at DTU Lyngby Campus.

You can read more about career paths at DTU here.

Further information
For further information please contact Associate Professor Alexis Laurent,, Tel: +45 4525 4423.

Information about the division for Quantitative Sustainability Assessment (QSA) Group is available at

Please submit your online application no later than 26 June 2019 (local time). Applications must be submitted as one PDF file containing all materials to be given consideration. To apply, please open the link "Apply online", fill out the online application form, and attach all your materials in English in one PDF file. The file must include:
  • A letter motivating the application (cover letter)
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Grade transcripts and BSc/MSc diploma
  • Excel sheet with translation of grades to the Danish grading system (see guidelines and Excel spreadsheet here)

Candidates may apply prior to obtaining their master's degree but cannot begin before having received it.

Applications and enclosures received after the deadline will not be considered.

All interested candidates irrespective of age, gender, race, disability, religion or ethnic background are encouraged to apply.

DTU Management conducts excellent research in the intersection between management, technology and economics, in close cooperation with companies and public authorities. In our research, we focus on the path to efficient and sustainable society. A key element is the role of technology and its interaction with industry, individuals, government, institutions and society as a whole.

DTU is a technical university providing internationally leading research, education, innovation and scientific advice. Our staff of 6,000 advance science and technology to create innovative solutions that meet the demands of society, and our 11,200 students are being educated to address the technological challenges of the future. DTU is an independent university collaborating globally with business, industry, government and public agencies.

Praktisk information

Danmarks Tekniske Universitet

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