As Austria's largest research and technology organisation for applied research, we are dedicated to make substantial contributions to solving the major challenges of our time, climate change and digitisation. To achieve our goals, we rely on our specific research, development and technology competencies, which are the basis of our commitment to excellence in all areas. With our open culture of innovation and our motivated, international teams, we are working to position AIT as Austria's leading research institution at the highest international level and to make a positive contribution to the economy and society. 


Our Center for Energy located in Vienna invites applications for a PhD Thesis position. At the Center for Energy our research unit Sustainable Thermal Energy Systems closely works with industrial partners on design optimisation and operation improvement of heating/cooling systems of buildings including controls, as well as on the development of HVAC technologies, namely compression heat pumps for gas boiler replacement, and innovative liquid desiccant dehydration.  


In order to achieve AIT’s goal of providing innovative and sustainable solutions to combat climate change, we have launched a PhD cooperation with Sweden's largest technical university. Hereby, you can apply for a PhD degree at KTH Royal Institute of Technology, ranked 34 in the 2023 QS World University Rankings. 


Throughout your PhD thesis you will work together with AIT and KTH on the collaborative research programme HEAPNOSYS - HEAt Pumps as the driver of iNtelligent energy SYStems. The research programme aims at fostering innovation in the building heating sector by addressing the significant challenges ahead through highly-intertwined PhD and postdoctoral research projects. We focus on the design and development of the next generation of building heating system targeting the densely populated urban area in Europe. The project elaborates the optimum design of the heating system including heat pumps from techno-economic perspectives at different system boundary levels. At the thermodynamic cycle level, the refrigerant should be selected following multiple criteria (including legal and technical limitations) and heat pump cycle design should be optimised to yield high efficiency as well as low life cycle cost. At the wider system level, system modelling and simulation should be carried out considering temperature glides, different scenarios for source and sink side temperatures, safety, acoustic footprint, and the possibilities to provide ancillary services at the electricity grid level. Following design and dimensioning optimisation, a prototype should be designed in the laboratory and tested under different operating conditions.


In cooperation with KTH Royal Institute of Technology

  • For this specific position you work together with an interdisciplinary team from AIT and KTH.
  • During this PhD project, you will develop the next generation of an efficient, safe, and smart heat pump technology that provides heating (both space heating and DHW) to a set of buildings in densely populated urban areas in Europe.
  • By modelling and simulating you will work on the optimum size of a heat pump for a micro-district heating system.
  • You will find out, which natural refrigerant (CO2, R290, or any other) is used best for the heat pump system and how to design the thermodynamic cycle aiming for high efficiency and low life cycle cost of the system.
  • Your work will show how to design the whole heating system in a more efficient way, considering the optimum temperature differences, temperature levels at both sink/source sides, how to optimise the system design from safety and noise perspectives, and how to design the system to be used as a part of ancillary services at the electricity grid level.
  • Furthermore, you will design a prototype system and test it in the heat pump laboratory to verify your simulation results.
  • Within this PhD collaboration, you will have the opportunity to get a training in scientific work and to develop both personally and professionally.
  • You will engage in independent scientific planning, execution and evaluation of studies, scientific preparation of results and publish your research results at conferences and in international journals.
  • You benefit from a highly innovative environment in the field of sustainable thermal energy systems.

Your qualifications as an Ingenious Partner:

  • Completed master’s studies (MSc.) in energy engineering, mechanical engineering, process engineering, physics or a similar field
  • Adequate knowledge in heat transfer and thermodynamics
  • Knowledge in energy system modelling and simulation, as well as experimental analysis
  • High commitment and ability to work in a team as well as willingness to show interest for related topics
  • Interested in reading and writing scientific publications and enjoy application-oriented questions from industry
  • Very good English skills (spoken & written, equivalent to English B/6) are mandatory; Preferably, also German skills.



  • Duration of the PhD project: 4 years
  • Start date: ideally 1st, July 2024
  • While working in Vienna as part of our AIT research team “Sustainable Thermal Energy Systems” you will have your own AIT supervisor.
  • To obtain the PhD degree at KTH, you will additionally be supervised (remotely) by Assoc. Prof. Hatef Madani, Head of Division of Applied Thermodynamics.
  • You will travel to KTH at least once a year for courses and trainings and of course to share ideas and discuss your research study with your supervisors and fellow-researchers.

What to expect: 

EUR 37.577,40 gross per year, for 30 h / week for a three-year PhD contract. In addition to numerous events, seminars, networking opportunities and additional company benefits, you will be part of our AIT PhD community with around 150 international students. As a research institution, we are familiar with the supervision and execution of PhD theses, and we are looking forward to supporting you accordingly! 


At AIT diversity and inclusion are of great importance. This is why we strive to inspire women to join our teams in the field of technology. We welcome applications from women, who will be given preference in case of equal qualifications after taking into account all relevant facts and circumstances of all applications. 

Please submit your documents including your CV, cover letter (ideally one page, including a brief introduction of yourself, an explanation how your previous studies and experience have prepared you for this PhD position, and a motivation why you are interested in this specific position) and your certificates (Transcript of records) online.

AIT Austrian Institute of Technology

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Location: Austria, Vienna
Categories: energy engineering, Mechanical Engineering, PhD, Physics, Process Engineering,


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