The Paul Scherrer Institute PSI is the largest research institute for natural and engineering sciences within Switzerland. We perform cutting-edge research in the fields of future technologies, energy and climate, health innovation and fundamentals of nature. By performing fundamental and applied research, we work on sustainable solutions for major challenges facing society, science and economy. PSI is committed to the training of future generations. Therefore, about one quarter of our staff are post-docs, post-graduates or apprentices. Altogether, PSI employs 2200 people.

The Laboratory for Energy Systems Analysis LEA is an interdivisional laboratory of the Nuclear Energy and Safety Research Division NES and the General Energy Research Division ENE. It unites specific analytical research concerning diverse energy technologies and systems, including nuclear, fossil and (modern) renewables. In cooperation with external partners (e.g. the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology ETHZ and many others), LEA carries out environmental and economic technology assessment and energy systems analyses relevant for energy policy.

For Technologie-Assessment Group in the Laboratory for Energy Systems Analysis LEA we are looking for a

PhD Student
on environmental assessment of Carbon Dioxide Removal CDR
Your tasks
You will perform environmental Life Cycle Assessment LCA of a wide range of options for Carbon Dioxide Removal CDR from the atmosphere. This includes both land and ocean based solutions such as direct air carbon capture and storage, soil carbon management, afforestation and ocean fertilization. You will evaluate expected technology development and consider this in prospective LCA, in which you will use the brightway and premise frameworks, linking integrated assessment models and LCA. Furthermore, you will develop approaches for regionalized LCA and apply these to CDR on a global level to take into account regional or even site-specific boundary conditions and potential constraints and to quantify impacts on human health and ecosystems – e.g. due to water and land use or emission of pollutants – in a regionalized way.
Key research questions include the quantification of the net-effectiveness of permanent CO2 removal from the atmosphere from an LCA perspective; how to compare different CDR options best from an LCA perspective; which co-benefits and adverse side-effects of CDR can be quantified from an LCA perspective; and which consequential effects will come along with the upscaling of CDR options and how would specific options interact. All tools and workflows will be open and fair. Your work will be part of a Horizon Europe project, in which you will have the chance to collaborate with leading Swiss, European and US research partners.

The successful PhD candidate will receive his/her PhD degree from ETH Zurich.
Your profile
  • Master degree in natural science, computer science, or engineering
  • Experience in Life Cycle Assessment
  • Being familiar with ecoinvent, brightway, and premise would be beneficial
  • Profound knowledge of English
  • Interest in open software development
  • Basic knowledge of Python
  • Independent working style
  • Communication skills to work well in a team
We offer
Our institution is based on an interdisciplinary, innovative and dynamic collaboration. You will profit from a systematic training on the job, in addition to personal development possibilities and our pronounced vocational training culture. If you wish to optimally combine work and family life or other personal interests, we are able to support you with our modern employment conditions and the on-site infrastructure.

For further information, please contact Christian Bauer, email or phone +41 56 310 23 91.

Please submit your application online by 25 March 2023 (including addresses of referees) for the position as a PhD Student (index no. 4501-01).

Paul Scherrer Institut, Human Resources Management, Serdal Varol, 5232 Villigen PSI, Switzerland