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The Helmholtz Centre Potsdam – GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences is the national centre for geosphere research. As a member of the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres we are part of the largest scientific organization in Germany. With approximately 1,500 employees our key mission is to secure a profound understanding of the systems and processes of solid Earth, to develop strategies and options for action in addressing global change and its impacts on a regional level, to understand natural hazards and to minimize associated risks, to ensure the sustainable provision of energy and raw materials for a high-tech society and to evaluate the influence of human activity on system Earth.
As a partner in Geo.X, the GFZ has access to an excellent network of other geoscience institutions in Potsdam and Berlin. This largest regional concentration of geoscientific competence in Europe offers first-class cooperation and development opportunities.
For our diverse team at the Helmholtz Young Investigator Group “Advanced reservoir engineering concepts for a controlled utilization of deep geothermal energy in urban areas” (ARES) in Section 4.8 “Geoenergy,” we invite applications of motivated candidates for:

2 PhD positions on Enhanced Geothermal Systems (f_m_x)

Reference Number 6814

The energy transition requires a heat transition, especially in urban centres where heat demand is high, and space is limited. Deep geothermal is one of the few “green” alternatives to fossil fuels that can provide base load heat, chill, and electricity. In Germany, 25% of the heat demand could be supplied by conventional hydrothermal systems, but the hydrothermal potential is not available everywhere and the petrothermal energy potential is orders of magnitude higher.

In our research group, we develop and demonstrate methods for improving the performance of deep geothermal reservoirs with insufficient permeability (petrothermal energy) while minimizing environmental impacts such as induced seismicity (“soft stimulation treatments”). Our results will thus reduce risks, improve economics and accelerate geothermal energy development by a better understanding of the governing processes and enabling the development of previously inaccessible resources. Research methods include experiments at the laboratory, mine and field scales as well as numerical and analytical modelling. We pursue our research in tight interdisciplinary collaboration across scales and across disciplines together with national and international partners.

The two PhD students will support the work of the group by working on one of the following topics with the help of laboratory injection experiments and numerical modelling:

1)   adaptive fluid injection for improved hydraulic stimulation control

2)   systematic analysis of the influence of operational and geological factors on induced seismicity and permeability enhancement

3)   development and investigation of new Enhanced Geothermal System development concepts

Laboratory experiments include hydraulic fracturing and hydro-shearing experiments and numerical modelling studies range from grain-based modelling of laboratory experiments to field scale models of EGS sites. The specific tasks will be determined based on the interests and capabilities of the individual applicants.

The results will improve the physical understanding of hydraulic stimulation treatments and associated fracture development, permeability increase and injection-induced seismicity. This will support the improvement of reservoir stimulation concepts to develop Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) in a safe and economic manner.

We are looking for highly motivated, creative and target-oriented candidates that want to do research with a purpose. As a team, we will support you in starting a fulfilling career in the field of deep geothermal energy development in science or industry, depending on your personal preferences.

Your responsibilities:

  • Use, validate and possibly improve existing numerical codes and develop tailor-made modelling workflows to study hydraulic fracturing, shear stimulation and the induced seismicity and hydraulic performance increase in geothermal reservoirs at multiple scales
  • Perform and analyse hydraulic fracturing and/or hydraulic shearing laboratory experiments to investigate the physical processes dominating the mechanical, seismic and hydraulic response of geothermal reservoirs to different hydraulic stimulation treatments
  • Improve the physical understanding by upscaling and downscaling
  • Publish in international peer-reviewed journals and present results at scientific meetings
  • Co-supervise BSc and MSc students

Your qualifications:

  • MSc degree (or equivalent) in reservoir/petroleum engineering, applied geosciences, environmental sciences, geophysics, geology, physics, mathematics or equivalent
  • Proficiency in spoken and written English; German language skills are useful, but no strict requirement
  • High motivation and creativity as well as a result-oriented, structured and reliable working attitude
  • Willingness and ability to work in diverse, interdisciplinary and international teams
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Background knowledge and experience in the topics of geothermal energy, rock mechanics, seismology or hydraulic fracturing and programming, numerical methods, analytical methods or laboratory methods are useful, but no strict requirement

What we offer:

  • Ambitious and varied tasks in a dynamic and international research environment
  • State-of-the-art equipment
  • Public service benefits
  • Extensive training opportunities
  • Professional career advice offered by our in-house Career-Centre
  • Flexible working hours and conditions
  • Support with finding a good work-life balance offered by benefit@work
  • Institute day-care centre on site
  • Working at the Albert Einstein science park on the Telegrafenberg in Potsdam
  • Work place within walking distance of Potsdam main train station, or just a short ride on the shuttle bus

Start date: Positions to be filled as soon as possible, but latest in July 2023
Fixed-term: 36 months
Salary: The position is classed as salary group 13 according to “TVöD Bund (Tarifgebiet Ost)”. The salary group is determined on the basis of the Collective Wage Agreement and the respective personal qualifications.
Working hours: Part-time 75% (currently 29.25 h/week)
Place of work: Potsdam

Have we piqued your interest?

If so, please submit your application containing (a) a full CV, (b) a cover letter detailing your motivation and a point by point summary of how you fit the required qualifications, (c) your University certificates, and (d) names and contact details of one to two referees online by 1st February 2023. Please use our online application form only.

Diversity and equal opportunities are integral components of our human resources policy. The GFZ actively promotes diversity and explicitly welcomes applications from all qualified individuals, regardless of ethnic and social origin, nationality, gender, sexual orientation and identity, religion/belief, age and physical characteristics. Anyone who has been recognized as severely disabled, will be given preferential consideration in the event of equal suitability and qualification in accordance with the provisions of the German Social Code IX. If you have any questions, please contact our representative for the severely disabled at sbv[at]gfz-potsdam.de, who will be happy to assist you in the further application process. In case of further queries regarding gender equality, please do not hesitate to contact our Equal Opportunities Officer at gba[at]gfz-potsdam.de.

Your personal data will be processed for the purpose of conducting the selection procedure on the basis of Art. 6 para. 1 b, Art. 88 GDPR in conjunction with Art. 26 of the Data Protection Act for the State of Brandenburg. After completion of the procedure, application documents will be deleted in compliance with data protection regulations.

In case of any further queries relating to the field of activity, please contact Prof. Dr. Hannes Hofmann either via email at hannes.hofmann@gfz-potsdam.de or phone +49 (0)331-288-28739. If you have any general questions about the application process, please contact our recruiting team at our phone number +49 (0) 331-288-28787.

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