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PhD Position Design of Lignin-Based Bio-composite Materials.

  • Mol, Vlaams Gewest, Belgium

Job description

Host institutes:

The Unit of Materials and Chemistry (MATCH, VITO) develops sustainable chemicals and materials where replacement or reuse of fossil resources for the chemical industry and the treatment of waste streams into high value chemicals is a focus area. A strategic research theme is focusing on the reuse of carbon as an alternative feedstock for the production of materials. More information available on

The group of Sustainable Composite Materials (KU Leuven, Dept of Materials Engineering) has extensive experience in natural fibre composites, study of moisture durability of these materials, as well as in fibre-matrix interfaces, specifically on the extensive physical-chemical-micromechanical characterization and the modification of matrices and fibre surfaces to make them more compatible. See also

The synthesis of (semi)aromatic polymers derived from renewable resources is currently attracting tremendous interest from both academia and industry, as aromatic compounds are key intermediates in the manufacture of polymers and chemicals. VITO is co-initiator of Biorizon, an industry driven Shared Research Center, focusing on technology development for the production of functionalized biobased aromatics for performance materials, chemicals & coatings. Lignin is the main source of aromatic bio-based molecules and delivers various phenol derivatives. VITO has developed a strong expertise in the valorization of biomass through conversion of lignocellulose into value-added lignin fragments and bio-aromatic derivatives. We are looking for a candidate for a 4 years PhD position to work on this exciting challenge within our lignin-derived materials program. The PhD will have the opportunity to work at the interface of polymer design and materials engineering and at 2 locations, ie, VITO and KU Leuven.

Project Description:
This position fits within VITO’s program of polymer design. SPOT ( is a team of chemists, chemical engineers and polymer chemists working on the development of materials with biobased and recyclable content. This research project will involve aspects of synthesis and characterization of biobased precursors, characterization of fibres, study of formulation and properties evaluation in composites.

The following tasks/actions are foreseen in our project to be conducted by the candidate, focusing on the preparation and characterization of natural fibre reinforced lignin-based composites:
• Active literature survey, keeping up to date with relevant articles and patents in the fields
• Detailing out the work protocol after discussion with the experts involved
• Execution of the work in laboratory
• Data interpretation and plan for next possible steps: in discussion with experts
• Execution of the experiments/tasks in a timely and efficient manner according to the overall project planning
• Preparing presentations for the meetings/reports.
• Scientific output and/or patent submission as a result of the work would be highly recommended
• Ensure compliance with VITO’s Health & Safety Policy, and take a proactive approach to ensure all experimental work is safe

How to apply?
Applications should be submitted online and include a copy of your CV, diploma transcripts and a cover letter.
More information about the application procedure is available on the VITO website.

Closing date for applications: 11/09/2024

Starting date (after positive evaluation): 15/01/2025

Contact persons for more information:

Marc Comi Bonachi (

Aart van Vuure (

Job requirements

• Master in polymer chemistry or materials engineering.

• Background in polymer composites is recommended.

• Knowledge on working on polymer integration with fibres and thermomechanical characterization of these materials is an asset.

• You have a result-driven character capable of translating theory to practice and vice versa and are able to find solutions.

• You are proactive, motivated and an excellent team player who enjoys working in a multidisciplinary environment.

• You are interested to acquire hands-on experience by running innovative experimental set-ups.

• You are fluent in English and eager to write scientific papers and/or patents.