Vacancy PhD Researcher WATCH

In the WATCH project, funded by the Flanders, four research groups from Ghent University, KULeuven University and Vito, will pool their scientific infrastructure and expertise together to improve chemical understanding of plastic waste conversion for the production of key chemicals such as short olefins, waxes, aromatics, styrene and diols.

The aim is to develop, demonstrate and compare three technologies for the conversion of plastic waste to liquid energy carriers and chemicals via (catalytic) pyrolysis. The first and second technology comprise a conventional fluidized or spouted bed reactor, whereas the third technology involves a new, disruptive reactor concept making use of rotating beds.

In the integrated approach of the problem, besides kinetic modeling and reactor engineering, focus will be given on the optimal feedstock selection to optimize individual yields of desired product(s) depending on the feed (thermosetting versus thermo-softening polymer). Plastic waste feeds of choice will be those streams that are currently not (mechanically) recycled but incinerated and/or dumped to landfill: mixed PE/PP/PS, multilayer packaging, waste PS, and polyurethane flexible and rigid foam.

Next to the development of the reactor technologies, efforts will be made on the further catalytic upgrade of pyrolysis oil fraction, purification and separation of valuable compounds by advanced membrane separation processes, possibly in combination with liquid-liquid extraction. Ideally process intensification makes it possible to construct a plant on truck. A life cycle analysis (LCA) will be conducted to assess both technologies and downstream processing in function of sustainable process design.

The PhD vacancy fits into the role of one of the research groups of the Centre for Sustainable Chemistry of Ghent University ( in the project: the Sustainable Systems Engineering group (STEN, (, lead by Prof. Jo Dewulf. The main role is to work on feedstock screening, even more important is the work on Process optimization in function of sustainable process design.

Please send your CV and a motivation until June 10th, 2019 - more info: PhD researcher vacancy WATCH