PhD Hydrothermal Processing of Waste Plastic: A promising Solution for Waste Management and Production of High Value Chemicals

PhD Hydrothermal Processing of Waste Plastic: A promising Solution for Waste Management and Production of High Value Chemicals

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30 Mar 20 Apr Delft

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Are you ready to unlock the potential of waste plastic? Join our TU Delft team as PhD on recycling and help build a sustainable future.

Job description

The global production of plastics has increased twenty-fold from 2019, becoming one of the biggest problems nowadays for society due to the low recycling rates. Even in the most developed countries, plastic cannot be recycled entirely due to the limited infrastructure. Thus, significant amounts of plastic waste end up in low and middle-income countries being incinerated, landfilled or in rivers, resulting in high environmental impact.

In this context, chemical recycling has the potential to break the link between fossil fuel extraction and the production of new plastic. This is achieved by converting plastic waste back into its building blocks so it can be turned into plastics again. Compared to competing technologies, chemical recycling aims to reduce pre-treatment steps that are costly and limit the number of times these materials can be recycled. Hydrothermal processing (HTP), uses hot compressed solvents to breakdown plastic waste into lower molecular weight products such as high value chemicals and monomers. One of the main benefits of HTP is that in can handle unsorted, mixed and contaminated waste plastic making it the most promising option for certain types of waste plastic.

In this project, you will work together with a team of leading experts from TU Delft and chemical recycling companies on the development of a novel HTP technology that is less complex and requires less energy than current ones using a new generation of solvents and catalysts. As a PhD student, you will be striving to reach the exciting target of experimentally demonstrating the feasibility of HTP for plastic waste in both batch and continuous operations up to TRL 4. Also, with HTP, we plan to expand the range of materials (e.g. biodegradable plastic) that can be recycled into high-quality products. We will incorporate this experimental data into conceptual process designs that utilize advanced process simulation models to evaluate the potential of HTP for large-scale applications.


Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)


You excel at conducting advanced chemical/process engineering research and being at the forefront of experimental work in your field. Working with your colleagues and our partners, you leverage your communication skills to drive progress. And while growing your own skills and knowledge, you are committed to interact with students. You need to have:

  • A Masters degree in Mechanical engineering, Chemical engineering, Chemistry or related field.
  • Experience with material characterization techniques, e.g., elemental analysis, bomb calorimetry and gas chromatography (GC-MS).
  • Familiarity with Chemical engineering and Chemistry based experimental work is considered an advantage.
  • A critical and inquisitive attitude with regard to results is expected, which translates into formulating new research questions.
  • Ability to function both in a team and independently.
  • Good communication skills. Fluent in English, both spoken and written.

Doing a PhD at TU Delft requires English proficiency at a certain level to ensure that the candidate is able to communicate and interact well, participate in English-taught Doctoral Education courses, and write scientific articles and a final thesis. For more details please check the Graduate Schools Admission Requirements.

Conditions of employment

Fixed-term contract: 4 years.

Doctoral candidates will be offered a 4-year period of employment in principle, but in the form of 2 employment contracts. An initial 1,5 year contract with an official go/no go progress assessment within 15 months. Followed by an additional contract for the remaining 2,5 years assuming everything goes well and performance requirements are met.

Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities, increasing from € 2541,- per month in the first year to € 3247,- in the fourth year. As a PhD candidate you will be enrolled in the TU Delft Graduate School. The TU Delft Graduate School provides an inspiring research environment with an excellent team of supervisors, academic staff and a mentor. The Doctoral Education Programme is aimed at developing your transferable, discipline-related and research skills.

The TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package, discounts on health insurance and sport memberships, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged. For international applicants we offer the Coming to Delft Service and Partner Career Advice to assist you with your relocation.


Delft University of Technology

Delft University of Technology is built on strong foundations. As creators of the world-famous Dutch waterworks and pioneers in biotech, TU Delft is a top international university combining science, engineering and design. It delivers world class results in education, research and innovation to address challenges in the areas of energy, climate, mobility, health and digital society. For generations, our engineers have proven to be entrepreneurial problem-solvers, both in business and in a social context.

At TU Delft we embrace diversity as one of our core values and we actively engage to be a university where you feel at home and can flourish. We value different perspectives and qualities. We believe this makes our work more innovative, the TU Delft community more vibrant and the world more just. Together, we imagine, invent and create solutions using technology to have a positive impact on a global scale. That is why we invite you to apply. Your application will receive fair consideration.

Challenge. Change. Impact!


Faculty Mechanical, Maritime and Materials Engineering

From chip to ship. From machine to human being. From idea to solution. Driven by a deep-rooted desire to understand our environment and discover its underlying mechanisms, research and education at the 3mE faculty focusses on fundamental understanding, design, production including application and product improvement, materials, processes and (mechanical) systems.

3mE is a dynamic and innovative faculty with high-tech lab facilities and international reach. It’s a large faculty but also versatile, so we can often make unique connections by combining different disciplines. This is reflected in 3mE’s outstanding, state-of-the-art education, which trains students to become responsible and socially engaged engineers and scientists. We translate our knowledge and insights into solutions to societal issues, contributing to a sustainable society and to the development of prosperity and well-being. That is what unites us in pioneering research, inspiring education and (inter)national cooperation.

Click here to go to the website of the Faculty of Mechanical, Maritime and Materials Engineering. Do you want to experience working at our faculty? These videos will introduce you to some of our researchers and their work.


  • PhD
  • Engineering
  • 36—40 hours per week
  • €2541—€3247 per month
  • University graduate
  • TUD03709


Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)

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