PhD position Smart pyrolysis concepts for polyurethane recycling (1.0 FTE)


Faculty of Science and Engineering


University of Groningen

The University of Groningen has the international reputation of being an dynamic and innovative center of higher education offering high-quality teaching and research. Balanced study and career paths in a wide variety of disciplines encourage the 33,000 students and researchers to develop their talents. Belonging to the best research universities in Europe and joining forces with prestigious partner universities and networks, we are truly an international place of knowledge.

The Faculty of Science and Engineering harbours a kaleidoscope of topics and our programmes in research and education range from fundamental sciences to engineering.

The research institute ENTEG is the engineering science and technology institute of the University of Groningen. ENTEG research is highly multidisciplinary and focuses on fundamental and engineering research, among others on the development of new and innovative processes and products for a wide range of product sectors. The research unit green chemical reaction engineering, the host unit for this PhD student, aims to develop novel catalytic technology for renewable carbon sources (biomass, CO2 and plastic recyclate) to biofuels and biobased chemicals and materials.

Job description

Plastic recycling is a hot topic and aims to revolutionize the current linear industry into a circular one. A major challenge is the recycling of rigid polyurethanes, among others from fridges and insulation materials in the building industry. Such thermosets are difficult to recycle mechanically and efficient chemical pathways need to be developed. A very prospective approach is catalytic pyrolysis, aiming to depolymerize the materials back into the monomers.

In this project, the successful PhD candidate will be performing catalyst and process studies at a laboratory scale aiming to improve the desired (monomeric) product yields. It will involve the smart design and testing of catalysts, improvement of reaction conditions, supplemented by fundamental studies on reaction networks in small-scale dedicated test rigs. In addition, the scaling up of the process of up to 10-100 g gram scale will also be part of the assignment. The project is part of a larger European project (Circular Foam) with 22 partners, aiming to stimulate innovations in the European Union regarding polyurethane recycling. Close collaborations with the company BIOBTX, a spin-off company of our university and located on our campus, are foreseen.


We are looking for a motivated and skilled student holding an MSc in Chemical Engineering. The candidate shall have an affinity with catalysis, in particular catalyst evaluation/ reactor/process research and development. Good interpersonal and communication skills (especially proficiency in the English language) are essential.

Conditions of employment

Contract length: 48 months.

We offer you, following the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities:

• a salary of € 2,434 gross per month in the first year, up to a maximum of € 3,111 gross per month in the fourth and final year for a full-time working week
• a full-time position (1.0 FTE) for 4 years
• a holiday allowance of 8% gross annual income
• an 8.3% end-of-the-year allowance
• a position for four years; first, you will get a temporary position of one year with the option of renewal for another three years; prolongation of the contract is contingent on sufficient progress in the first year to indicate that successful completion of the PhD thesis within the contract period is to be expected. A PhD training program is part of the agreement and you will be enrolled in the Graduate School of the Faculty of Science and Engineering.

Candidates are expected to start at February 2022

Job Application

Do you meet our qualification criteria? If yes, your application should include:

• cover letter
• curriculum vitae
• transcripts from your bachelor’s and master’s degree
• any other relevant information (e.g. language skills/certification)

You can submit your application until 15 December 11:59 pm / before 16 December 2021 Dutch local time (CET) using the application form (click on "Apply" below on the advertisement on the university website).

We are an equal opportunity employer and value diversity at our University. We are committed to building a diverse faculty so you are encouraged to apply. Our selection procedure follows the guidelines of the Recruitment code (NVP), and European Commission's European Code of Conduct for recruitment of researchers,

Unsolicited marketing is not appreciated.

Additional information

For additional information, please contact:

Prof. Erik Heeres

In your application, please always include the job opening ID 221652

Digital application form