PhD position in organic matter transformation processes in manure and its relation to methane emission

Applicants are invited for a PhD fellowship/scholarship at Graduate School of Technical Sciences, Aarhus University, Denmark, within the Biological and Chemical Engineering programme. The position is available from 1 July 2023 or as soon as possible thereafter.

Title:PhD position in organic matter transformation processes in manure and its relation to methane emission  

Research area and project description:

Methane emission from stored livestock manure contributes around 20% of greenhouse gas emission from the agricultural sector. Around 50% of manure-derived methane emission is from pig slurry. This estimate is based on a simple calculation involving quantity of excreted volatile solids and average monthly temperature to reflect volatile solids conversion rate to methane with the Arrhenius equation. While this approach may be practicable at a regional scale and for average emissions estimates it fails to predict methane emission at a farm level due to local differences in manure management and environment. Multiple studies have suggested that key factors driving methane emission are microbiological activity (specifically methanogen activity) and organic matter degradability. There is a need for establishing better baseline emission measurements and datasets such that a dynamic model can be developed and parameterized with the purpose of predicting methane emission from barns and outside storages at farm scale and with different management practices.

The PhD candidate will investigate degradation rates of the organic matter in slurry from different types of pig production facilities (weaners, growing-finishing pigs and sows) and from different parts of the manure management chain (pigs, housing, and storage). This work will include development of analytical and experimental methods and the student will get to work with state-of-the-art instrumentation during this work. The degradation rate estimates will be combined with the methane emission data and feed input data at farm level. The feed input data will be used to estimate the enteric methane from pigs and part of this work will take place in cooperation with researcher at Wageningen University and Research (WUR). The PhD-candidate will have the opportunity to have a stay at WUR during the work with enteric methane.

The output from the investigations will be integrated in a model tool (ABM: Anaerobic Biodegradation Model) along with input from another PhD-project focusing on microbiology. The involvement in the modelling work will depend on the interest of the PhD-candidate.

  • Project description. For technical reasons, you must upload a project description. Please simply copy the project description above, and upload it as a PDF in the application.

Qualifications and specific competences:
Applicants must have a relevant master’s degree in Engineering, Animal Science, Agronomy, Biology, Environmental Science or related areas.

Experience with analytical chemistry and laboratory work and understanding of animal production systems is an advantage.

Further requirements are fluency in English (both oral and written), good reporting/organization skills and being able to work independently.

Place of employment and place of work:

The place of employment is Aarhus University, and the place of work is Biological and Chemical Engineering, Gustav Wieds Vej 10, 8000 Aarhus C, Denmark.

Applicants seeking further information are invited to contact:Senior Researcher Michael Jørgen Hansen at

How to apply:
Please follow this link to submit your application. Application deadline is 16 April 2023 at 23:59 CEST. Preferred starting date is 1 July 2023.

For information about application requirements and mandatory attachments, please see our application guide.

Please note:

  • The programme committee may request further information or invite the applicant to attend an interview.
  • Shortlisting will be used, which means that the evaluation committee only will evaluate the most relevant applications.