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Researcher Chemical Recycling of Plastics

  • Mol, Vlaams Gewest, Belgium
R&D & Engineering

Job description

Are you interested in the design and development of new, sustainable processes for chemical recycling of plastics? Then this research position in our SPOT team (sustainable polymer technologies, https://spot.vito.be/en) is what you look for! Development and optimization of chemical recycling processes, a shift to alternative resources, improved functionality, less waste, lower costs and increased efficiencies: these are the challenges industry and society are facing nowadays. For the industrial uptake of these innovative processes and products, VITO derisks the industrial investments by process development and demonstration of the developed processes both at lab scale and pilot scale. For supporting these development actions, we are looking for a chemical/process engineer to design plastics chemical recycling processes, validate in lab testing and prepare basic engineering designs for upscaling.

Within the team we work on various topics such as mapping available end-of-life materials, the characterization, design and development of technologies for plastics chemical recycling, mainly focusing on solvent based processes. To advance the understanding and technology development, we are looking for a researcher to design and develop chemical recycling processes of plastics. You are able to identify problems in the design of chemical recycling of processes, to perform suitable equipment selection and propose technical solutions and validate them in the lab, in close collaboration with the expert colleagues in the team.

Tasks and responsibilities:

  • You are responsible for the design of and translation of chemical recycling processes for plastics/polymers into hardware equipment at lab-scale (including feeding systems, chemical reactors, separation processes like adsorption and L/L extraction). You consider early in the design phase, the industrial relevance and scalability of these processes to pilot scale.
  • You participate in the design of process units, including establishing process design basis, trade-off of process options and optimization of selected designs.
  • You design small lab-scale test installations, select suppliers of the components, and with support get it up and running in the lab and write operational procedures.
  • You are hands-on and like to work in the lab. You validate the design by running lab experiments.
  • You specify process flow sheets and develop piping and instrumentation diagrams (P&ID). You model processes and units operations & develops process flow diagram to define heat and material balance & you perform simulations with tools like ASPEN.
  • You direct activities to ensure that construction, installation and operational testing are conform to functional specifications, recognized codes and standards, legislation (ATEX, PED, …) and customer requirements & you ensure all documentation is prepared, checked, reviewed and approved adequately together with our lab coordinator.
  • You maintain effective communication with project team (internal colleagues, subcontractors, partners) and stakeholders/customers.
  • You perform routine aspects of engineering requiring knowledge and application of basic engineering principles.

Job requirements

  • You have a degree (BE, MS or MEng) in Chemical/Process Engineering with a pragmatic engineering judgement and intuition or a degree in Mechanical/Mechatronics Engineering with experience in the chemical industry.
  • You have an industrial relevant expertise in (mechanical/chemical) recycling of plastics. A benefit is already some relevant experience e.g. in Process Department of a consultancy organization or technical services department of a chemical plant.
  • You have experience in chemical process design and chemical reactor design including working with organic solvents.
  • You are well versed with process flow sheets, P&ID development, have good knowledge of unit operations (e.g. distillation, filtration, heat transfer etc.) and technical specifications (pumps, tank/pressure vessels, valves).
  • You are able to work with simulation tools like ASPEN or are a fast learner to master this aspect.
  • Good verbal and written communication skills, where English is a must and Dutch is a pro.
  • You are a hands-on team player and you know how to share your enthusiasm with your colleagues.
  • You have an analytical attitude and are critical of your results.


  • A competitive salary with a range of benefits, including allowances, insurance and a modular package of vacation days;
  • Innovation is our core asset, therefore it goes without saying that we give our employees the opportunity to undertake additional training and keep up to date in their field of expertise;
  • The chance to be part of an organization with an international reputation, known for its advanced technological research and scientific consultancy;
  • The possibility to actively contribute towards sustainable developments at local, national and global level.