PhD positions Separation Technology

The Separation Technology Group, Department of Chemical Engineering and Chemistry is looking foor 2 PhD candidates ‘Biomass waste valorization using nature-based deep eutectic solvents’ (m/v)

We have ambitious plans to simultaneously recover multiple valuable compounds from biomass waste streams (peels, crop waste) in a cost-effective way. For this, we aim to develop and apply novel breakthrough solvents that are nature-based, renewable, biodegradable, low-volatile and cost-effective. Are you the enthusiastic PhD student that fits in our group of excellent researchers?

The research of the group Separation Technology focuses on the design and development of novel extractants and absorbents for highly selective affinity separations. We focus on the use of natural solvents (e.g. ionic liquids and deep eutectic solvents) for this purpose. Areas of interest include the desalination of water, the separation/capture of carbon dioxide from gas mixtures, the recovery of valuable materials from (lignocellulosic) biomass and the separation of azeotropes. We use both experiments (at small and pilot-scale) and theoretical modeling for finding improved separation methods.

Two PhD positions are open in the field of biomass waste valorization with novel solvents:

Biomass waste valorization using nature-based deep eutectic solvents

The aim of both PhD projects is to develop and apply a new class of renewable solvents, so-called deep eutectic solvents, for biomass waste valorization. Deep eutectic solvents are mixtures of two or more nature-based compounds that have melting points above 100oC and are solid at room temperature (such as glucose and malic acid). However, when you mix these compounds, they form a liquid phase at room temperature with very low volatility. It was recently that DESs show high solubilities for many (lignocellulosic) biomass constituents. Therefore, these liquids offer opportunities for use as biomass waste extractants.

One PhD student will focus on the DES design using DFT calculations and solubility models and an understanding of the mechanism of biomass disintegration and dissolution in DESs using NMR, microscopy and chromatographic methods. The other PhD student will focus on the isolation of multiple valuable products from the DES extract on basis of the dissolution mechanism data. The knowledge obtained may open a new class of integral treatment processes for a wide range of biomass waste streams using renewable solvents, low energy input and with no salt waste generation.

Job requirements

We are looking for a talented and enthusiastic (almost) graduated Master student in Chemical Engineering or Chemistry, preferably with a background in process engineering, bio-based or environmental  technology or separation technology. Other requirements are excellent analytic and communicative skills. You are fluent in English and you are a team player.

Conditions of employment

We offer a challenging job for four years in a highly motivated team at a dynamic and ambitious University that is in close contact with possible end users of the newly developed technology. You will work with innovative analytic equipment and you will be part of a highly profiled multidisciplinary collaboration where expertise of a variety of disciplines comes together. The TU/e is located in the smartest regions of the world en part of the European technology hotspot ‘Brainport Eindhoven’; well-known because of many high-tech industries and start-ups. A place to be for talented scientists!

The gross monthly salary in accordance with the Collective Labor Agreement of the Dutch Universities (CAO NU), starts with € 2125 in the first year to € 2717 in the fourth year. Besides this the TU/e has holiday- and end-of the year allowances, an excellent package of attractive benefits for employees, a child-care facility, and a modern sports complex. Assistance for finding accommodation can be given. Especially for PhD students the TU/e also offers opportunities for personal development. We do this by offering every PhD student a series of courses that are part of the Proof programma as an excellent addition to your scientific education.

Information and application

More information about this vacancy can be obtained with prof. dr. ir. Maaike C. Kroon (e-mail: ; tel.: 31-40-2475289).

More information about job conditions and application can be obtained with mrs. Arianne D. Boekema BSc (e-mail:

The application should consist of the following parts:

  • a brief letter explaining/motivating your interest in the position;
  • a detailed Curriculum Vitae, including a list of publications (if appropriate);
  • a complete list of courses taken and grades obtained (including transcripts of academic records);
  • one-page summary of the MSc thesis;
  • contact details of two referees;
  • proof of English language skills (if applicable);
  • any other relevant information.

Please send us your application before 1 August 2015 using the ‘apply now’-button on top of this page.

Review of applications will start as soon as applications are received and will continue until the position has been filled.

Function – PhD-student
Deadline – 01/08/2015
Reference number – V37.2305