This work will be carried out in the Sustainable Materials Lab (Department of Chemical Engineering) of Prof. Wim Thielemans at the KU Leuven Campus Kulak Kortrijk. The research group is focused on the development of materials from renewable resources, with a specific focus on cellulose nanocrystals and materials derived from lignocellulosic streams. We are equipped with all the necessary equipment for these studies including fully equipped wet chemical labs, elemental analysis, size exclusion chromatography (SEC, both high and room temperature), light scattering, small and wide angle x-ray scattering (S/WAXS), X-ray photo-electron spectroscopy (XPS), dynamic scanning and isothermal titration calorimetry (DSC and ITC), benchtop nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, scanning electron microscopy with energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (SEM-EDX), and rheometry, and have access to the KU Leuven shared NMR spectroscopy and electron microscopy facilities. Our research group at current consists of 11 PhD students, 9 postdoctoral researchers, a research and an innovation manager, and 2 lab technicians. We also have numerous international scientific collaborations.Website unit
Within this PhD project we will synthesize, test and optimize new biobased thermosetting and thermoplastic polymers using lignin depolymerization products. These lignin monomers and oligomers will be produced and extracted from lignocellulosic materials using the lignin-first biorefinery operated by Prof. B. Sels (Bioengineering – KU Leuven). Chemical modification of the extracted lignin fractions before polymer synthesis will be carried out in collaboration with Prof. B. Maes (Chemistry – UAntwerpen). The initial target polymers are polyesters, polyurethanes and polycarbonates. In our polymer developments, we will also specifically take into account depolymerisation strategies and options to facilitate chemical recycling of our polymers to strive towards a truly circular economy.
This project is part of a large biorefinery project (Next-BIOREF) in collaboration with Prof. B. Sels (Lignin extraction from lignocellulose and transformation, Bioengineering, KU Leuven), Prof. J. Martens (Characterisation of lignin and lignin fractions, Bioengineering, KU Leuven), Prof. B. Maes (Chemical transformations of lignin fractions, Chemistry, UAntwerpen), Prof. W. Boerjan (Genetic modification of lignocellulosic plants, Plant biotechnology and bioinformatics, UGent), and Prof. J. Thybaut (Reactor modelling, Laboratory for chemical technology, UGent).
We seek an enthousiastic researcher with an interest in polymers, polymer synthesis, and biobased materials.
A master’s degree in Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, Materials Science or Bio-engineering with experience in polymer synthesis is a must. Other relevant experience will be a plus.
Admission to the Arenberg Doctoral School requires at least a Master’s degree with distinction or a Master’s degree with a scientific publication in an international peer-reviewed journal.
We have funding for a 4-year fellowship to work towards aPhD in Chemical Engineering in a veryinternational research group.
Progress will be annually reviewed following the guidelinesby the Arenberg Doctoral School.
For more information please contact Prof. dr. ir. Wim Thielemans, tel.: +32 56 24 61 71, mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.You can apply for this job no later than May 31, 2021 via the online application toolKU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments. If you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us at diversiteit.HR@kuleuven.be.