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Postdoctoral position: Novel plastic sorting methods based on markers (ref. BAP-2024-499)

The Ameloot group is part of the KU Leuven Center for Membrane Separations, Adsorption, Catalysis, and Spectroscopy (cMACS), which counts 6 PIs and >130 members. Sustainable methods, novel materials, membranes, films and their interfaces are a core research topic at cMACS. In this context, our group studies different ways to improve plastic recycling through better material detection.

KU Leuven (University of Leuven) has been a center of learning for nearly six centuries. Today, it is Belgium's largest and highest-ranked university and, founded in 1425, one of the oldest and most renowned universities in Europe. The university caters to over 60 000 students from more than 140 countries. KU Leuven's three doctoral schools provide internationally oriented PhD tracks for more than 4 000 doctoral students. KU Leuven and affiliated knowledge institutes provide fertile ground for innovation and high-tech entrepreneurship in the Leuven region. This favorable climate for knowledge-driven entrepreneurship and innovation makes the Leuven region an attractive location for many high-tech companies. More info: http://amelootgroup.org/positi...

Unit website: https://amelootgroup.org/


While plastics are arguably the most versatile materials, recycling remains a challenge. In particular, many dark-colored plastics are currently not recycled (i.e., incinerated or landfilled) due to a lack of suitable methods to identify the plastic type and subsequent sorting. Join us to explore novel & more efficient ways to sort and recycle plastics. We are looking for a motivated postdoctoral research fellow to combine the following topics:

(i) Tagging black plastics from waste electronics and automotive shredder residue with different dyes according to a patent filed by our group. You figure out which relevant plastics can be distinguished using this approach as well as its reliability and limitations.

(ii) Tagging and sorting relevant plastics that are currently not yet in our portfolio, you explore other (dye) chemistries as alternative detection mechanisms. In general, you develop a deep understanding of the mechanisms, if necessary, with computational methods.

(iii) You increase the technology readiness level of your process to showcase the feasibility of industrial applications. Besides the science, you keep an eye on the market requirements and set priorities accordingly.
In this postdoctoral project, you will be working together with scientists and engineers with complementary expertise in polymer chemistry and spectroscopy. Part of this project will be carried out in collaboration with industrial players. For more information on the research group coordinating this project, please refer to http://amelootgroup.org/; and https://twitter.com/AmelootGro....


We are looking for:

  • A motivated candidate with a strong academic track record and a PhD in sustainable chemistry, polymer chemistry, plastics recycling, or a related field in Science and Engineering.
  • A candidate passionate about resource management, industrial applications, and novel techniques
  • An experienced researcher willing to work as part of an interdisciplinary team and eager to guide younger colleagues starting out in the field.
  • Previous demonstrations of out-of-the-box thinking. Bonus points if you consider yourself a 'maker' and practical problem solver, tell us what you are doing!
  • Since we target real-world applications through our research, an interest in valorization (e.g., spin-off creation) is a plus.
  • Since we are a highly international team, proficiency in both written and spoken English is non-negotiable.

Please consider applying if you have several of the following skills:

  • Required: Expertise in polymer chemistry and material characterization.
  • Experience with recycling or resource management is a plus.
  • Other skills that you think are relevant (please explain in your cover letter).


  • An interesting research position in the vibrant student town of Leuven with a project that makes sense: we are strongly interested in solving real-world problems and applying our science to actual industrial problems.
  • A full-time postdoc position with a target duration of 2-3 years. The initial contract will be for 1 year and will be extended after a positive evaluation.
  • Excellent guidance by our dynamic, international, and multidisciplinary team with access to top-class labs.
  • High level scientific training at a top-ranked university.
  • A remuneration package competitive with standards in Belgium, a country with a high quality of life and excellent healthcare system.
  • Ample occasions to develop your profile in a scientific and/or an industrial direction.
  • A stay in a vibrant environment in the hearth of Europe. The university is located in Leuven, a town of approximately 100.000 inhabitants, located close to Brussels (25 km), and 20 minutes by train from Brussels International Airport. This strategic positioning and the strong presence of the university, international research centers, and industry, lead to a safe town with high quality of life, welcome to non-Dutch speaking people and with ample opportunities for social and sport activities. The mixture of cultures and research fields are some of the ingredients making the university of Leuven the most innovative university in Europe (https://nieuws.kuleuven.be/en/...). Further information can be found on the website of the university: https://www.kuleuven.be/englis...

For more information please contact Mr. Christian Steuwe, tel.: +32 16 37 21 02, mail: christian.steuwe@kuleuven.be or Prof. dr. ir. Rob Ameloot, tel.: +32 16 37 66 74, mail: rob.ameloot@kuleuven.be.
Please submit your application through the KU Leuven portal.
Preferred starting date: as soon as your schedule permits.You can apply for this job no later than August 19, 2024 via the online application tool

Apply before: 20/08/2024

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