PhD Position Resource Recovery for Sustainable Sanitation

PhD Position Resource Recovery for Sustainable Sanitation

Published Deadline Location
8 Nov 22 Nov Delft

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Do you want to contribute to sanitation solutions? Are you interested in resource recovery? Do you get energy from talking with people about dirty and clean water? Then we are looking for you!

Job description

As a PhD candidate at TU Delft, department of Water Management, you will investigate how resource recovery could contribute to sustainable sanitation, in line with the interests, needs and capacities of local stakeholders. Research stays in Latin America, Africa and/or Indonesia are part of the position.

Despite the long trajectory of sanitation, wastewater treatment continues to be a challenge around the world. Previous efforts have been limited by investment and maintenance requirements, and in some places realized plans have become insufficient for increased demographics or to satisfy stricter regulations around pollutants. To overcome these sanitation challenges, the recovery of resources from wastewater has been proposed to reduce the economic burden of sanitation while diminishing environmental impacts of water treatment (i.e. by ‘closing the loop’ of resources like energy and nutrients). Even more, recovering water for re-use could contribute to satisfying water demands in locations where poor sanitation correlates with poor water access or quality.

However, recovering resources from wastewater still requires investments, and it brings a need to connect wastewater treatment with new actors, such as resource users, who may have specific interests and needs around wastewater treatment and recovered resources. Therefore, the aim of this project is to investigate how can resource recovery contribute to sustainable sanitation in alignment with local interests, needs and capacities?

You will investigate this question through a case study approach, with possible case studies in Africa, Latin America and Indonesia. For each case study, the aim will be to identify socially responsible solutions to recover resources from wastewater streams. For that, you will identify technical and non-technical requirements for sanitation, the potential for the recovery of water, biogas and nutrients, and the uses for the recovered resources in perspective of the local situation. Based on this analysis, you will propose and evaluate solutions for each case study, applying participatory design and/or evaluation approaches. Therefore, you should have interest in stakeholder engagement methods. From a cross case study comparison, you will identify how suitable solutions compare across case studies, and the critical aspects that determine the suitability of wastewater treatment and resource recovery solutions in different cases. From this analysis, you will derive recommendations for policy makers, investors, technology developers and operators seeking to advance sanitation in regions where it remains a challenge.      


Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)



  • Background in environmental engineering or bioprocess engineering. Industrial ecology background with experience/knowledge on wastewater treatment is possible;
  • Experience or affinity with Industrial Ecology, Participatory Research and/or Responsible Innovation;
  • Experience with Life Cycle Assessment and/or Techno-Economic Analysis;
  • Good communication skills to reach out to external stakeholders;
  • Initiative and pragmatic spirit to solve problems hands-on.


  • Experience with qualitative data gathering methods (e.g. interviews, focus groups) and qualitative data analysis;
  • Experience with or knowledge on resource recovery and the circular economy;
  • Experience with SimaPro, or other LCA software.

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 € 2770 per month in the first year to € 3539 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 a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged. 

For international applicants, TU Delft has the Coming to Delft Service. This service provides information for new international employees to help you prepare the relocation and to settle in the Netherlands. The Coming to Delft Service offers a Dual Career Programme for partners and they organise events to expand your (social) network.


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 Civil Engineering & Geosciences

The Faculty of Civil Engineering & Geosciences (CEG) is committed to outstanding international research and education in the field of civil engineering, applied earth sciences, traffic and transport, water technology, and delta technology. Our research feeds into our educational programmes and covers societal challenges such as climate change, energy transition, resource availability, urbanisation and clean water. Our research projects are conducted in close cooperation with a wide range of research institutions. CEG is convinced of the importance of open science and supports its scientists in integrating open science in their research practice. The Faculty of CEG comprises 28 research groups in the following seven departments: Materials Mechanics Management & Design, Engineering Structures, Geoscience and Engineering, Geoscience and Remote Sensing, Transport & Planning, Hydraulic Engineering and Water Management.

Click here to go to the website of the Faculty of Civil Engineering & Geosciences.


  • PhD
  • Engineering
  • 36—40 hours per week
  • €2770—€3539 per month
  • University graduate
  • TUD04643


Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)

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