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Postdoc “Design of sustainable polymer materials with biobased building blocks”

  • Mol, Vlaams Gewest, Belgium

Job description

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 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.

To strengthen this research line, we are looking for a researcher to work within our Sustainable Polymer Technologies (SPOT) team ( The focus of the research will be focused on the design and development of polymers with biobased and/or recycled content, as well as its full characterization in terms of material properties. Translating this research into IP and scientific papers, and co-development with companies will be the way to guide the research.

We are looking for a candidate interested in starting a 1 year postdoctoral fellowship, with possible extension to 3 years, to work within our biopolymer team with a focus on the development of renewable polymers for insulation applications using depolymerized lignin.

Closing date for applications: 30/9/2024

Starting date: (negotiable, latest) 1/11/2024

For more information, please contact Elias Feghali (

Project Description:

This research project will involve 2 main aspects related to the development and characterization of polymer materials with a focus on (1) synthesis of non-isocyanate polyurethane (NIPU) using depolymerized lignins and other renewable building blocks and (2) adhesive development.

The following tasks/actions are foreseen in our project to be conducted by the candidate, focusing on the synthesis and characterization of insulation foams using various lignin fractions towards the required specifications:

  • 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

Job requirements

  • PhD in Polymer Chemistry, Material Sciences or closely related field.
  • Background in organic chemistry; preferentially with knowledge of polymer chemistry and material science.
  • Knowledge on working with lignin and lignin oils and/or NIPU chemistry 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, independent 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, using DOE.
  • You are fluent in English and eager to write scientific papers and/or patents.


  • A competitive salary with a range of benefits including allowances, insurances, and a modular vacation package.
  • 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 organisation 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.