PhD Candidate in Electric Insulation and Flow Dynamics in Power Transformer Windings

About the job

For a position as a PhD Candidate, the goal is a completed doctoral education up to an obtained doctoral degree.

The Department of Electric Energy (IEL) at NTNU has a vacancy for a full-time 100% position as a PhD Candidate within the field of electric insulation systems and numerical and experimental characterization of the flow dynamics in power transformer windings.

A secure energy supply requires a robust and resilient power and transmission system. Significant investment in electric power systems is needed in the coming decade to meet growing energy demands. Reinvestments should be done in a way that minimizes environmental impact and preserves reliability. Liquid-filled high-voltage power transformers play a crucial role in electric production, transmission, and distribution systems. The liquid serves as electrical insulation and cooling for the transformer windings.

Mineral oils, derived from non-renewable crude oil with low biodegradability, have long been the dominant insulating liquids. However, new alternatives with environmental, HSE, and technical benefits have emerged. The NewLifT project, which this PhD position is associated with, focuses on the thermal properties of these new insulating liquids. The PhD will work with a multidisciplinary research team to examine the impact of liquid viscosity on cooling capabilities, particularly at low temperatures. The research may involve both experimental and numerical/analytic work, and the candidate's background and interests will determine the balance. The PhD will focus on modelling and measuring liquid flow in a laboratory flow rig.

The work of this project will be associated with the project NewLifT (New Liquids for Transformers), which is a collaborative project involving NTNU, SINTEF and several national and international industry partners. The prospective candidate will be part of a project team that works in close collaboration with NTNU, SINTEF and other project partners.

The main supervisor will be Professor Kaveh Niayesh (NTNU) and the co-supervisor will be Dr. Camilla Espedal (SINTEF Energy Research).

Your immediate leader is the Head of Department.

Duties of the position

  • The candidate will collaborate with other team players to perform a systematic investigation (either experimental or numerical) on thermal behavior of different insulating liquids.
  • The candidate will be expected to participate in and perform modelling and experimental studies of various insulation liquids. The balance between modelling and experiments can be adjusted according to the candidate's background and preferences.  
    • The modelling involves making models for describing the impact of different liquid properties, in particular viscosity, on their cooling capability especially at very low temperatures (subzero). This could for instance include computational fluid dynamics or simpler lumped models.
    • The experimental part involves studying and measuring flow and temperature distributions in an already-built experimental rig at room and subzero temperatures.
  • The candidate will disseminate scientific findings via conference presentations and journal publications.
  • The candidate will complete academic training consisting of course work corresponding to minimum 30 ECTS.

Required selection criteria

  • You must have a professional relevant background in Electric Power Engineering. Applicants with a professional relevant background in Physics or Mathematics are also eligible to apply.
  • Your education must correspond to a five-year Norwegian degree program, where 120 credits are obtained at master's level.
  • You must have a strong academic background from your previous studies and an average grade from the master's degree program, or equivalent education, which is equal to B or better compared with NTNU's grading scale. If you do not have letter grades from previous studies, you must have an equally good academic basis. If you have a weaker grade background, you may be assessed if you can document that you are particularly suitable for a PhD education.
  • Master's students can apply, but the master's degree must be obtained and documented by autumn 2023.
  • You must meet the requirements for admission to the faculty's doctoral program.
  • Good written and oral English language skills. Applicants from non-English speaking countries outside EU/EEA/Switzerland must provide preliminary documentation of English language proficiency, in terms of an approved test. The following tests can be used: TOEFL, IELTS and Cambridge Certificate in Advanced English (CAE) or Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE). Minimum scores are:
    • TOEFL: 600 (paper-based test), 92 (Internet-based test)
    • IELTS: 6.5, with no section lower than 5.5 (only Academic IELTS test accepted)
  • Further assessment of both written and oral English language skills, and the ability to communicate fluently, will be conducted in the continued selection process and during any interviews for the shortlisted applicants.

The appointment is to be made in accordance with Regulations on terms of employment for positions such as postdoctoral fellow, Phd candidate, research assistant and specialist candidate and Regulations concerning the degrees of Philosophiae Doctor (PhD) and Philosodophiae Doctor (PhD) in artistic research national guidelines for appointment as PhD, post doctor and research assistant 

Preferred selection criteria

  • Basic knowledge of fluid mechanics and heat transport theory.
  • Experience with or knowledge of computational physics and numerical methods, such as finite-element methods and/or computational fluid dynamics.
  • Experience with running and building lab set-ups could be beneficial.

Personal characteristics

  • Inquisitive, self-motivated and self-driven with a strong ability to work both independently, and in cooperation with others when required. 
  • Good communications skills, both orally and in writing.
  • Structured, targeted and solution-oriented.
  • Scientific mindset

Emphasis will be placed on personal and interpersonal qualities.

We offer

Salary and conditions

As a PhD candidate (code 1017) you are normally paid from gross NOK 532 200 per annum before tax, depending on qualifications and seniority. From the salary, 2% is deducted as a contribution to the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund.

The employment contract is for three years, with the possibility of a fourth year. 

The option of 4-year employment would imply 1 year of duties as teaching assistant for the department and may be offered to a candidate with clear motivation and ability for such work, if the department sees the need. This will be clarified during and after any interview. 

Appointment to a PhD position requires that you are admitted to the PhD programme in Electric Power Engineering within three months of employment, and that you participate in an organized PhD programme during the employment period.


The engagement is to be made in accordance with the regulations in force concerning State Employees and Civil Servants, and the acts relating to Control of the Export of Strategic Goods, Services and Technology. Candidates who by assessment of the application and attachment are seen to conflict with the criteria in the latter law will be prohibited from recruitment to NTNU. After the appointment you must assume that there may be changes in the area of work.

The position is subject to external funding.

It is a prerequisite you can be present at and accessible to the institution at campus Trondheim on a daily basis.

About the application

The application and supporting documentation to be used as the basis for the assessment must be in English.

Publications and other scientific work must be attached to the application. Please note that your application will be considered based solely on information submitted by the application deadline. You must therefore ensure that your application clearly demonstrates how your skills and experience fulfil the criteria specified above.

The application must include: 

  • A cover letter where the applicant describes personal motivation and relevance with respect to the requirements of this advertisement.
  • CV and certificates
  • transcripts and diplomas for bachelor's and master's degrees. If you have not completed the master's degree, you must submit a confirmation that the master's thesis has been submitted.
  • A copy of the master's thesis. If you recently have submitted your master's thesis, you can attach a draft of the thesis. Documentation of a completed master's degree must be presented before taking up the position.
  • Applicants from universities outside Norway are kindly requested to send a diploma supplement or a similar document, which describes in detail the study programme and grading system.
  • A draft research proposal (3-5 pages) for the PhD study, where you present your own ideas for the PhD-work and how it can be applied, based on the project description given in this advertisement. This proposal will be neither final nor binding for the project.
  • English language proficiency documentation
  • Name and contact information of three references.
  • Relevant publications or research work.

Incomplete applications will not be assessed.

If all, or parts, of your education has been taken abroad, we also ask you to attach documentation of the scope and quality of your entire education, both bachelor's and master's education, in addition to other higher education. Description of the documentation required can be found here. If you already have a statement from NOKUT, please attach this as well.

We will take joint work into account. If it is difficult to identify your efforts in the joint work, you must enclose a short description of your participation.

In the evaluation of which candidate is best qualified, emphasis will be placed on education, experience and personal and interpersonal qualities. Motivation, ambitions, and potential will also count in the assessment of the candidates. 

NTNU is committed to following evaluation criteria for research quality according to The San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment - DORA.


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