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Due to climate change, process water is becoming increasingly scarce, while (waste) salt solutions containing water and valuable salts are often discharged. Although technical solutions for the recovery of water and salts are available, these technologies are not cost-effective and unsustainable. To secure industrial water availability and at the same time make optimal use of salt and water from waste streams, more energy-efficient and cost-effective technologies need to be developed. The granted TKI E&I (Top consortium for Knowledge and Innovation Energy & Industry) subsidy project Odysseus will feature the development of novel technologies for the purification and concentration of salt solutions up to saturation.
Two PhD projects, part of the granted Odysseus project, will deal with the research and development of novel membrane technologies for the concentration of highly saline streams. These technologies are expected to be low energy consuming, more sustainable alternatives for evaporation. One project will research and develop Low-Salt-Rejection Reverse Osmosis (LSRRO), while the other project will study and improve Osmotically Assisted Reverse Osmosis (OARO). In both projects, generation of improved insights in the transport of species through the membrane, and evaluation and improvement of the membrane performance in terms of flux and retention are key elements. Next to membrane characterization, both projects involve lab- and module-scale membrane experimentation combined with modelling of obtained results to evaluate the feasibility of the technologies. Valorization will be evaluated in close collaboration with the industrial project partners (end-users as well as equipment manufacturers).
The PhD students in these projects will closely collaborate with the other two PhD students within the larger Odysseus project. Those PhD projects will focus on the materials science and membrane fabrication of ceramic electrodialysis membranes, and on the evaluation of extractants and the improvement of the extraction process for salt solution purification and concentration. The Odysseus project will thus naturally allow many relevant collaborations, including close collaboration with several end-users and equipment manufacturers, who are partners in the project. Moreover, the project will be well-integrated in the Institute of Sustainable Process Technology (ISPT) program, and the Membrane Science and Technology (MST) and the Sustainable Process Technology (SPT) Departments, allowing even more collaboration and knowledge exchange.
As part of the PhD program, you will have the opportunity to receive further education within the Twente Graduate School. Furthermore, you may actively contribute in the teaching program, e.g. by supervision of BSc and MSc assignments and giving teaching assistance.
University of Twente (UT)
You have a Master’s degree, preferably with distinction (or international equivalent), in Chemical Engineering or Technology, Process Technology, Membrane Science or Technology, or a closely related discipline. You are motivated and enthusiastic about working on a more scientific project within a more applied field of research.
Preferably you have experience with or have a demonstrated interest in (pressure-driven) membrane processes, membrane science and technology and/or transport phenomena. You have the ability to work independently and as a member of a research team, while demonstrating a collaborative attitude.
You are able to review and engage with interdisciplinary studies and are driven by curiosity. You have an analytical mind-set, and possess excellent communication skills, written as well as spoken. English language proficiency is a must and a written test, as well as a scientific presentation, will be part of the interview procedure.
Conditions of employment
The University of Twente offers a stimulating work environment in an area of applied, forefront research. When fulfilling a PhD position at the UT, you will get the status of junior scientist. You will have an employment contract for the duration of 4 years and can participate in all employee benefits the UT offers. The gross monthly salary starts with € 2.770,- in the first year and increases to € 3.539,- in the fourth year of your employment. Additionally, the University of Twente provides excellent facilities for professional and personal development, a holiday allowance (amount to 8%), an end of year bonus of 8.3%. A high-quality training program is part of the agreement. The research has to result in a PhD thesis at the end of the employment period. The positions are available from November, 2023.
Department of Membrane Science and Technology (MST)
The MST department, often referred to as Twente Membranes, consists of several chairs focused on the development of new membrane materials and modules, membrane characterization, transport phenomena near and through membrane surfaces and the development of membrane processes and applications. The MST department has a history in membranes research of more than 50 years, and is internationally recognized as a leading department in membrane science and technology. The department has an impressive track record of over 250 PhD graduates, over 1000 peer-reviewed scientific publications and over 40 granted patents.