At the Industrial Catalysis and Adsorption Technology research group of Ghent University, a position for a PhD student is available.
The aim of this PhD project is the elucidation of the thermodynamics of bio-aromatics. Evolutions towards a circular economy, including the replacement of fossil resources by renewable ones, have become increasingly important in the abatement of climate change. Lignin from lignocellulose constitutes an interesting resource for materials’ applications or for the production of renewable aromatic molecules, i.e., bio-aromatics. However, due to its highly irregular and complex structure containing many different substructures which are connected via several different linkages, lignin depolymerization will always yield a complex multicomponent mixture. Hence, the cost-effective separation of these bio-aromatics will be crucial for further valorization. A major hurdle that needs to be taken before being able to properly design such separation processes, is the development of adequate thermodynamic models, specifically designed for the considered bio-aromatics. Currently, these models have been developed for molecules and mixtures which are derived from petrochemical industry. However, molecules that contain multiple functional groups and/or heteroatoms are, typically, not well described. Therefore, this project aspires to develop a model for the prediction of the thermodynamic properties of bio-aromatics. The project will be kicked off with an extensive experimental study of phase equilibria (vapor-liquid, liquid-liquid and solid-liquid) involving these bio-aromatics. Subsequently, the experimental insights will be quantified, i.e., thermodynamic models which are able to adequately describe the experimentally obtained phase equilibria will be developed. More specifically, the binary interaction parameters that occur in the thermodynamic models will be determined or fine-tuned by means of regression against the experimental data and, if necessary, correction terms to be added to the thermodynamic models will be proposed. Finally, the developed thermodynamic model will be applied for separation train design purposes.
Candidates should hold a Master’s degree in Chemical Engineering Technology or Chemical Engineering or Bioscience Engineering: Chemistry and Bioprocess Technology.
Please contact Jeriffa De Clercq before October 1st if you are interested: firstname.lastname@example.org