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Postdoc "Synthesis of novel functional, lignin–based polymers for innovative plastics applications"

  • Mol, Vlaams Gewest, Belgium

Job description

The aim of the project is to prepare and evaluate the performance of novel thermoplastic and thermoset sustainable polymers derived from lignin. Phenolic chemicals for polymer synthesis will be obtained through lignin reprocessing or using a lignin first biorefinery approach. The project fits Scion and VITO strategies of replacing petrochemicals and non-sustainable products with polymer materials derived from biomass.

Key focus areas and responsibilities

The outcome of the research will advance the development of sustainable polymer products derived from aromatic biochemicals. The project bridges the gap between biopolymer chemistry and materials science.

  • Develop and optimise experimental methods including
    • Preparation, purification and characterisation of depolymerised lignin produced by reductive catalytic fractionation of lignocellulosic biomass and/or lignin.
    • Functionalisation of depolymerised lignin for polymer synthesis.
    • Polymer formulation, synthesis and characterisation.
    • Polymer applications with a focus on composites and 3D printing.
  • Undertake property and performance testing of polymer materials.
  • Help develop detailed experimental workplans and undertaking experiments in a timely and efficient manner.
  • Interpret results and provide regular oral and written progress reports to Scion and VITO supervisors.
  • Publication and presentation of results in international journals and conferences.

Information Management

Ensure that all information created or received in the course of your work is kept in the right place, properly named and is appropriately stored and available to other staff in accordance with Scion’s and VITO’s Information Management policies, standards and guidelines.

Health, Safety and Wellbeing

  • Engage, participate, and contribute in the development of a safe and healthy workplace.
  • Be familiar with and adhere to Scion and VITO health & safety policies, procedures, and practices.
  • Take reasonable care to ensure own safety and that of others, and to abide by our duty of care for all workers.
  • Report any injury, hazards, or illness immediately where practical.

Relationships / Key stakeholders / Postdoc Supervisors

  • Dr. Robert Abbel, Daniel Van de Pas (Scion)
    Research Group Leader, Portfolio Leader, Project Leader, Analytical Chemists and Material Scientists
  • Dr. Richard Vendamme and Dr. Elias Feghali (VITO). For more information, please contact

Tentative starting date: 1/09/2024 - Duration of the fellowship: 2 years

Job requirements

  • PhD in either polymer chemistry or materials science.
  • Proven experience in polymer synthesis, synthetic organic chemistry and/or materials development.
  • Experience in using chemical analysis techniques such as gas chromatography/mass spectroscopy, liquid chromatography and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy.
  • A strong background in polymer characterisation including SEM, and thermal and mechanical testing such as DSC, TGA, DMTA, flexural and tensile testing would be an advantage.
  • A strong background in 3D printing of polymers.
  • Experience in bio-derived polymers and knowledge of operation of pressure reactors for solvent extraction and/or solvolysis reactions would be beneficial.
  • Knowledge of heterogeneous catalyst and/or lignocellulosic chemistry would be beneficial.
  • Hands-on experience in working in a research laboratory and a good understanding of safe chemical laboratory practises is required.
  • Ability to undertake experimental investigations without close supervision and to consistently produce high quality results.
  • Good organisational and communication skills.
  • Good collaborative skills and ability to work with others in a team.
  • A good publication record which demonstrates technical ability, track record in research and competency in writing scientific papers.
  • Willingness to spend 1 year in New Zealand and 1 year in Belgium during the project.


  • A 2-year temporary contract, a competitive salary and a range of benefits including allowances, insurances, adjustable holiday package and flexible working hours and workplace.
  • 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.