PhD candidate for BIOPYRANIA: Developing bio-based polyamides – Maastricht University (UM) – Maastricht

Maastricht University (UM)

You are a highly motivated researcher with a master degree in chemistry, holding skills in polymer synthesis. You are willing to collaborate closely with both public and private partners on the development and chemical recycling of high-performance polyamides prepared from new, bio-based aromatic monomers.

Job Description
This project is part of the BIOPYRANIA EU project (HORIZON-JU-CBE-2023-R-04) with partners both the public and the private sector.

European industry is facing the challenge of creating sustainable products while considering the environmental impact, durability, recyclability, and safety. There is a pressing demand to explore alternatives to fossil-fuel-based products, and this presents significant challenges for industries, notably the automotive and energy sectors.

BIOPYRANIA offers an innovative solution by utilising new bio-based aromatic monomers, which are obtained through fermentative processes from European second-generation woody biomass. Expanding on previous studies of polyesters based on these new bio-based aromatic monomers at Maastricht University, BIOPYRANIA shows that incorporating these building blocks into materials results in distinctive properties. Leveraging these properties, the project aims to develop sustainable polyamide (PA) and polybenzimidazole (PBI) polymers for high-performance applications in automotive electrification and green hydrogen production.

With the increase of automotive electrification, lightweight and high-performance materials like BIOPYRANIA polyamides are crucial. Simultaneously, the green energy sector demands clean hydrogen production, and BIOPYRANIA aims to improve anion exchange membranes with polybenzimidazoles, with the expectation of meeting 22% of the global “final energy” demand. Recycling will boost their circularity profile, while digital methodologies and comprehensive studies will support and accelerate these advancements.

A task of Maastricht University is to synthesize high-performance (co)polyamides from this new bio-based building block, as well as the chemical and physical polymer characterization. Chemical recycling of the newly prepared (co)polyamides will be established. The PhD student will work closely together with academic and industrial project partners in the consortium. Lab scale recipes will be transferred to industrial partners for upscaling and material testing. Based on their feedback, the synthesis work will be further tuned.

The PhD student will be appointed at the Aachen-Maastricht Institute for Biobased Materials of Maastricht University, which is part of the Faculty of Science and Engineering. You will work in the Sustainable Polymer Synthesis group of Associate Professor Katrien Bernaerts, which focusses on the synthesis and design of polymer materials with tunable properties and recyclability exploiting the functionality of biobased building blocks. You will operate from the Brightlands-Chemelot Campus in Geleen (Nl), where the labs are located.

The candidate

  • holds a master degree in Chemistry, Chemical Engineering or related fields;
  • has skills in polymer synthesis and characterization. Experience with polycondensation is a pro;
  • has affinity with chemical and physico-chemical characterization of monomers and polymers;
  • is interested in chemical depolymerisation of polyamides;
  • has a strong interest to investigate structure-property relationships of the synthesized polyamides both from fundamental point of view and for automotive applications;
  • the candidate is expected to stay abreast of the recent literature (publications and patents) in the field of sustainable polymers, develop research ideas and valorise the research in the form of patents and research papers;
  • likes to interact with academic and industrial partners;
  • is result driven, inventive, creative, counts with potential impact, works ‘accountable’ and works with ownership;
  • Masters scientific English for speaking, reading, and writing. Knowledge of Dutch is not required.
  • What we offer
    As PhD candidate for BIOPYRANIA: Developing bio-based polyamides
    at Faculty of Science & Engineering , you will be employed by the most international university in the Netherlands, located in the beautiful city of Maastricht. In addition, we offer you:

  • Good employment conditions. The position is graded in scale P according to UFO profile PhD Candidate, with corresponding salary based on experience ranging from €2770,00 and €3539,00 gross per month (based on a full-time employment of 38 hours per week). In addition to the monthly salary, an 8.0% holiday allowance and an 8.3% year-end bonus apply.
  • An employment contract for a period of 12 months with a scope of 1,0 FTE. Upon a positive evaluation, an extension of 3 years will follow.
  • At Maastricht University, the well-being of our employees is of utmost importance, we offer flexible working hours and the possibility to work partly from home if the nature of your position allows it. You will receive a monthly commuting and internet allowance for this. If you work full-time, you will be entitled to 29 vacation days and 4 additional public holidays per year, namely carnival Monday, carnival Tuesday, Good Friday, and Liberation Day. If you choose to accumulate compensation hours, an additional 12 days will be added. Furthermore, you can personalize your employment conditions through a collective labor agreement (CAO) choice model.
  • As Maastricht University, we offer various other excellent secondary employment conditions. These include a good pension scheme with the ABP and the opportunity for UM employees to participate in company fitness and make use of the extensive sports facilities that we also offer to our students.
  • Last but certainly not least, we provide the space and facilities for your personal and professional development. We facilitate this by offering a wide range of training programs and supporting various well-established initiatives such as ‘acknowledge and appreciate’.
  • The terms of employment at Maastricht University are largely set out in the collective labor agreement of Dutch Universities. In addition, local provisions specific to UM apply.

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