List of fellowships

Understanding electrochemical steering of microbial fermentation processes

Project ID: ESR01
Home institution: Ghent University (UGent)
Host institution: Delft University of Technology (TU delft)
Main supervisor: Korneel Rabaey
Cosupervisors: Robbert Kleerebezem
Start date: Saturday, October 1, 2016
Duration: 36 months, may be extended up to 48 months
Financing: The PhD scholarship is financed according to the standards of Ghent University.
Objectives and expected results:

In this project we will combine model based approaches with experimental work with the objective to generate medium chain fatty acids from complex substrate through fermentation combined with electrochemical steering and extraction. We will aim at liquid organic streams such as crude glycerol and molasses. They will be fed to granular type fermenters or if needed packed bed fermenters coupled to an electrochemical system. The latter provides reducing power leading to chain elongation, while also enabling product extraction. Individual contributions of extraction and steering will be investigated. This will be coupled to the development of a model that correctly links the fermentation to the obtained end products, based on thermodynamics.

Planned secondment(s):

Paques (www.paques.nl) and Delft University of Technology.

Specific entry requirements:

Specific entry requirements: applicants should hold an MSc degree

For more information on this project, please contact Prof. Korneel Rabaey (Korneel.Rabaey@UGent.be)

Steering Product Formation in High-Pressure Digestion Systems

Project ID: ESR02
Home institution: Delft University of Technology (TU delft)
Host institution: Ghent University (UGent)
Main supervisor: Jules van Lier
Cosupervisors: Korneel Rabaey
Start date: Saturday, October 1, 2016
Duration: 36 months, may be extended up to 48 months
Financing: The PhD scholarships are financed according to the standards of Delft University of Technology.
Objectives and expected results:

Anaerobic Digestion is a widely used and advantageous technology for wastewater treatment, since besides organic material degradation, biogas is produced (van Lier et al. 2008). Using conventional technology, the methane content reaches 50-75% (IEA Bioenergy, 2009). Previous proof-of-principle research has demonstrated the feasibility of using Autogenerative High Pressure Anaerobic Digestion (AHPD) to produce biogas with improved quality (90-95% CH4 content) and at a pressure suitable for high-grade use (Lindeboom, 2014a). Furthermore, AHPD has also proved to produce other metabolites (carboxylates), that by themselves or through further conversion, could be interesting for the chemical industry. New insights into waste to bioproduct conversion have established that economically-attractive end-products can be obtained with mixed cultures and complex substrates (Agler et al., 2011). In this context, High-Pressure Anaerobic Digestion (Hi-PAD) offers some interesting features. Based on previous work, it is expected that specific pressure effects influence the kinetics and thermodynamics of mixed culture fermentations (e.g. role of the CO2 partial pressure). This project aims to further address these effects and determine to what extent they can be exploited to improve the fermentation yield and selectivity.  

Planned secondment(s):

Center for Microbial Ecology and Technology (CMET) - Ghent University 

March-September 2019

 

Paques, The Netherlands 

October-December 2019

 

Specific entry requirements:

For more information on this project, please contact Prof. Jules van Lier (j.b.vanlier@tudelft.nl) and/or Prof. Korneel Rabaey (Korneel.Rabaey@UGent.be).

Anodic production of biochemicals based on Pseudomonas sp.

Project ID: ESR03
Home institution: RWTH Aachen University
Host institution: Ghent University (UGent)
Main supervisor: Miriam Agler-Rosenbaum
Start date: Saturday, October 1, 2016
Duration: 3 years
Financing: The PhD scholarships are financed at 100% employment according to the MSCA-ITN Program
Objectives and expected results:

Short description of my topic:

My research project is about to produce valuable biochemicals (e.g. polyhydroxyalkanoate and muconic acid) using cultures of Pseudomonas sp. growing on aromatic waste streams in the anodic chamber of an electrochemical bioreactor. Lignin model compounds frequently found in the liquor waste streams of lignin depolymerization processes are used as substrate. These streams are considered difficult to degrade as they contain a complex variety of toxic aromatic compounds. Nevertheless, they could be better catabolized and transformed into valuable products by some strains of Pseudomonas sp in a bioelectrochemical system. In this way, it could be possible to contribute to a waste-lignin valorization and stablish a novel bioelectrochemical production platform and more sustainable industrial biotechnological process.

My progress / state of the art:

My research proposal is divided into different serial stages. Briefly, they consist on selecting suitable aromatic waste streams and microbial hosts, genetic and metabolic engineering of the selected strain(s), demonstration of the bioproduction concept and product recovery. In this moment, a Pseudomonas strain was selected for the first tests using a biolelectrochemical system. In parallel, new strains are being engineered for product accumulation and new methods for product separation are under evaluation.

Planned secondment(s):

Secondment: Ghent University (01.11.2018  -  30.06.2019) for system/reactor design and process engineering.

 

Industrial internship:Paques  (01.07.2019 - 30.08.2019) for conception of integration of initial production strain with real streams and first economic considerations in the last year.

Specific entry requirements:

For more information on the project, please contact Prof. Miriam Rosenbaum (Miriam.rosenbaum@rwth-aachen.de).

Bioavailability and species transformations of micronutrients in (bio)reactors used for resource recovery and water reuse

Project ID: ESR04
Home institution: University of Chemistry and Technology Prague (UCT)
Host institution: Ghent University (UGent)
Main supervisor: Jan Bartacek
Cosupervisors: Gijs Du Laing, Pavel Jenicek
Start date: Saturday, October 1, 2016
Duration: 3 years
Financing: The PhD scholarships are financed according to the standards of University of Chemistry and Technology Prague (UCT).
Objectives and expected results:

Anaerobic digestion is often used for the treatment of industrial, municipal or agricultural wastewaters and can be considered as the key technology regarding renewable energy production from wastewater. It is known that metals are needed as essential cofactors for a variety of enzymes involved in methane production and their absence can cause a serious decrease in biomass activity. However, detailed knowledge on the fate of metals in anaerobic digesters is still in its infancy. Recent studies have shown that metals dosed as soluble salts (which is the industrial practice) do not remain in bioavailable form during their passage through anaerobic digesters. They may precipitate or may adsorb on the surfaces present in the reactors (e.g. anaerobic granules). Furthermore, organic complexes present in the reactors (humic acids, siderophors etc.) play a very important role in rendering metals unavailable for microorganisms by binding them in stable organic complexes that cannot be transported across cell membranes. The proposed project aims to develop a new method that with help with supplementation strategies of trace metals. The method will be based on determining a bioavailable fraction of trace metals and relating this fraction to methanogenic activity. The bioavailable fraction in the digestates will be assessed by diffusive gradients in thin film (DGTs). Special attention will be paid to the hydraulic patterns inside the reactors and their effect on the retention of trace metals in the reactor.  

Planned secondment(s):

Ghent University 6 months (January 2017, April-August 2019), Asio 3 months (October-December 2018)

 

Specific entry requirements:

For more information on the project, please contact Assoc. Prof. Jan Bartacek (jan.bartacek@vscht.cz)

Comparison of anaerobic digestion products in mesophilic and thermophilic conditions

Project ID: ESR05
Home institution: University of Chemistry and Technology Prague (UCT)
Host institution: Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC)
Main supervisor: Pavel Jenicek
Start date: Saturday, October 1, 2016
Duration: 3 years
Financing: The PhD scholarships are financed according to the standards of University of Chemistry and Technology Prague (UCT).
Objectives and expected results:

The main objective of this PhD project is to compare anaerobic digestion products in mesophilic and thermophilic conditions with emphasis on digested sludge quality, sludge liquor quality and biogas quality. Difference in efficiency of mesophilic and thermophilic sludge digestion, in kinetics of both processes, in sludge liquor composition, in rheological properties of sludge especially in dewaterability, in microbial community, and in specific pollutants (PPCP) removal are explored.

Planned secondment(s):

UPC Barcelona, 8 months, and internship in last year in Asio Brno (www.asio.cz/en)

Specific entry requirements:

Specific entry requirements: the applicant should preferably have an MSc degree in environmental, civil or chemical engineering or alike

For more information on the project, please contact Prof. Pavel Jenicek (jenicekp@vscht.cz)

Model-based knowledge buildup of mixing behavior in anaerobic digesters with view of maximizing performance

Project ID: ESR06
Home institution: Ghent University (UGent)
Host institution: University of Chemistry and Technology Prague (UCT)
Main supervisor: Ingmar Nopens
Cosupervisors: Jan Bartacek
Start date: Saturday, October 1, 2016
Duration: 36 months, may be extended up to 48 months
Financing: The PhD scholarship is financed according to the standards of Ghent University.
Objectives and expected results:

Anaerobic digesters (AD) at full scale do not reach their full potential of biogas production. We postulate that this is caused to a large extent by incomplete mixing causing heterogeneities and stratification, inducing reduced performance. In order to optimize the design and operation of ADs, more process knowledge needs to be gathered. This can be achieved by advanced modelling in conjunction with dedicated experimental data collection. A combined CFD-kinetic model will be developed. This can be broken down in different subtasks. With respect to the CFD model, little is known on the rheological properties of AD sludge. Dedicated rheological experiments with AD sludge will be performed. Rheological models are typically power law functions including sludge concentration. This validity will be verified for AD sludge and if needed it will be extended by e.g. including particle size distribution. Velocity measurements will be performed at full-scale to validate the CFD model. Subsequently, the ADM1 model will be linked to the frozen CFD solution. This allows us to get an idea on the impact of incomplete mixing on the distribution of different process rates in the reactor and the possible occurrence of stratification or even short-circuiting. Spatial measurements will allow validating the model. Once the integrated CFD-ADM model is in place, a dynamic compartmental model will be built for operational optimization. The CFD model will be further used for optimization of reactor design and impeller shape. The final objective is an innovative AD design and operation reaching close to maximal production of biogas.

Planned secondment(s):

UCT Prague,February 01-July 31, 2019, experimental data collection

 

internship: November 19-December 19, 2018 and  August 12-Spetember 12, 2019

Specific entry requirements:

For more information on the project, please contact Ingmar Nopens (ingmar.nopens@ugent.be)

Development of computational fluid dynamics (CFD) models for forward osmosis (FO) modules on primary effluent

Project ID: ESR07
Home institution: Delft University of Technology (TU delft)
Host institution: Ghent University (UGent)
Main supervisor: Mark van Loosdrecht
Cosupervisors: Arne Verliefde
Start date: Saturday, October 1, 2016
Duration: 36 months
Financing: The PhD scholarships are financed according to the standards of Delft University of Technology.
Objectives and expected results:

Objectives: develop CFD models for FO modules on primary effluent (e.g., to predilute seawater prior to RO desalination &concentrate the effluent for anaerobic treatment), and validate these models experimentally

Expected Results: CFD model incorporating different spacers designs that allows for optimization of FO operate d on primary effluent

Planned secondment(s):

KWR Watercycle Research Institute (http://www.kwrwater.nl/) and Ghent University

Specific entry requirements:

For more information on this project, please contact Prof. Mark van Loosdrecht (M.C.M.vanLoosdrecht@tudelft.nl) and/or Prof. Arne Verliefde (Arne.Verliefde@UGent.be).

Development of novel nanofiltration (NF) membranes for selective separation between organics and inorganics

Project ID: ESR08
Home institution: Ghent University (UGent)
Host institution: RWTH Aachen University
Main supervisor: Arne Verliefde
Start date: Saturday, October 1, 2016
Duration: 36 months, may be extended up to 48 months
Financing: he PhD scholarship is financed according to the standards of Ghent University.
Objectives and expected results:

The objective of this study is to develop novel nanofiltration (NF) membranes for selective separation between organics and inorganics, with the final goal of developing a tailor-made NF membrane design based on polyelectrolytes .

Complex brines of different industrial processes offer great potential for resource recovery, but this recovery is often hampered by the fact that salts cannot be directly recovered due to a large fraction of organics present, whereas the organics can not be valorized (e.g., as biogas) due to the high inorganic content. As such, there is an urgent need for selective membranes and processes that allow separation of such complex brines into an inorganic and an organic stream. This project will go beyond the state-of-the-art by using a platform technology of layer-by-layer polyelectrolyte architectures to prepare tailor-made nanofiltration membranes. The first phase of the project will consist of a screening of a wide range of polymeric materials for their interaction energy with a wide range of organic pollutants. This screening will be based on a toolbox of polyelectrolytes varying in ionic charge character, charge density and hydrophobicity, as revealed by rigorous characterization of streaming potential/current data and contact angle. These membranes will be produced as a composite membrane on hollow fiber geometries. The second phase of the research will consist of development of membranes preferentially as thin film composites synthesized in a membrane fabrication process called “Chemistry-in-a-spinneret”. Membranes spinning parameters will be tuned to tailor pore size of the top layers to pass salts to as high an extent as possible.

Planned secondment(s):

RWTH Aachen University – 1/11/2018-1/3/2019, for membrane development; 1/9/2019-1/11/2019

 

internships: 15/3/2019 - 15/7/2019 KWR water research institute. Netherlands. Evaluation of Commercial NF-LBL membranes applicability for removal of trace organic micropollutants. Fouling study of polyelectrolyte multilayer membranes (PEMM) in surface water filtration. 

Specific entry requirements:

For more information on the project, please contact Prof. Arne Verliefde (arne.verliefde@ugent.be)

Development of techniques for selective recovery of technology-critical elements from industrial wastewaters

Project ID: ESR09
Home institution: Ghent University (UGent)
Host institution: Delft University of Technology (TU delft)
Main supervisor: Gijs Du Laing
Cosupervisors: Tom Hennebel (UGent + Umicore)
Start date: Saturday, October 1, 2016
Duration: 36 months, may be extended up to 48 months
Financing: The PhD scholarship is financed according to the standards of Ghent University.
Objectives and expected results:

In this PhD project, strategies are developed for (selective) removal and recovery of (valuable) metals from a number of industrial wastewaters. Focus is laid on biosorption-based – and possibly also electrochemical - technologies. Biomaterials have – in comparison with classical metallurgical techniques – potential to remove lower concentrations of metals from leachates. However, to make biosorption-based processes selective as well as economically feasible, further technology development is needed. To speed up the development and valorization of these technologies, novel high throughput experimentation techniques will be used in this PhD project.

Planned secondment(s):

month 20-22 and 30-33, testing and development of phase separation strategies in biosorption-based technologies and/or (bio)electrochemical technologies + internship (1+2 months) at Umicore (www.umicore.com) in first and last year (includes sampling different types of industrial wastewaters and to test pilot setups on site)

Specific entry requirements:

the applicants should have a MSc degree in (bio)chemical engineering, environmental engineering, (analytical) chemistry or similar

For more information on the project, please contact Gijs Du Laing (Gijs.DuLaing@UGent.be)

Mathematical modelling of sulfide oxidation in microaerobic bioreactors

Project ID: ESR10
Home institution: University of Chemistry and Technology Prague (UCT)
Host institution: Ghent University (UGent)
Main supervisor: Jan Bartacek
Cosupervisors: Eveline Volcke, Pavel Jenicek
Start date: Saturday, October 1, 2016
Duration: 3 years
Financing: The PhD scholarship is financed according to the standards of University of Chemistry and Technology Prague.
Objectives and expected results:

In most wastewater streams, sulfur is present in the form of sulfate. During anaerobic wastewater treatment, biochemical reduction of sulfate to sulfide takes place by the action of sulfate reducing bacteria. High concentration of sulfide in anaerobic reactors and the resulting hydrogen sulfide in biogas can cause major technological problems, such as inhibition of anaerobic processes, accumulation of inert materials (metal sulfides) in the sludge, corrosion (of tanks, piping, engines and boilers) and emission of sulfur dioxide from the combustion of biogas. Because of these complications, hydrogen sulfide has to be removed from biogas prior to its further use.

Using microaeration, i.e. controlled dosing of small amount of air into the anaerobic digester, very efficient desulfurization with minimum cost can be achieved and process can be fully automated. The main constraint for the successful on-line control of air dosing, however, is that the amount of air dosed into the headspace of the reactor must be high enough to oxidize all H2S present in biogas, but should not cause excessive dilution of biogas by nitrogen.

The overall goal of this PhD research project is to control H2S emissions from the anaerobic treatment of wastewater with a high sulfate content using microaerobic conditions in UASB reactors. This goal will be reached through performing short-term and long-term lab-scale experiments, combined with mathematical modeling and simulation. The project will involve three main research lines:

  1. The identification of reaction mechanisms for sulfide oxidation under microaerobic conditions
  2. Development of a mathematical model (based on existing ones) describing microaeration and its application in simulation studies.
  3. The design of adequate control strategies for biogas desulfurization through on-line controlled microaeration.
Planned secondment(s):

UGent, 2x4 months, Asio, 2 months (www.asio.cz/en)

Specific entry requirements:

the candidate should preferably have a MSc degree in environmental, civil or chemical engineering or alike

For more information on the project, please contact Assoc.Prof. Jan Bartacek (jan.bartacek@vscht.cz)

Hybrid membrane bioreactor (MBR) concepts for removal of micropollutants (MPs) from municipal wastewater

Project ID: ESR11
Home institution: RWTH Aachen University
Host institution: Ghent University (UGent)
Main supervisor: Matthias Wessling
Start date: Saturday, October 1, 2016
Duration: 36 months
Financing: The PhD scholarships are financed at 100% employment according to the MSCA-ITN Program
Objectives and expected results:

Due to limited degradation capability of conventional wastewater treatment plants including the existing MBRs, part of the MPs are discharged into the environment. In future, more stringent discharge criteria regarding the MPs concentrations in treated municipal wastewater are expected, so that significant enhancement of existing MBR concepts and development of new MBR technologies are required. Thus, the main objective of the of the research project is to understand how to optimize the membrane bioreactors (MBR) for more effective removal of micropollutants, facilitating water reuse and recovery of resources, products.

The expected results will be:

  • The understanding of the degradation and removal of micropollutants by interaction between activated sludge biology and integrated active carbon and ozone treatment, respectively;
  • Identification of the potential to optimize existing commercial MBR concepts to deal with increasing micropollutant concentrations in municipal waste water on one hand and increasingly stringent reuse and discharge standards on the other hand.
Planned secondment(s):

n the beginning of the project a 1 month secondment at Ghent University for the training on micropollutant analysis is planned. The required MPs analysis during the project will be carried out also at Ghent University. This work will be done in several shorter periods in the labs of Ghent University as well. Furthermore, in the first year a 2-months internship at Microdyn-Nadir for pilot-plant design and construction and several short-time internships at Erftverband (WWTP Nord-Kanal Kaarst) for experimental working with real waste water are planned.

Specific entry requirements:

The candidate should be fluent in English; a background in Chemical Engineering or Mechanical Engineering or similar fields is requested. Basic knowledge of German and in Environmental Engineering or other relevant areas are desired.

Additional documents to supply:

After selection, the candidate needs to provide originals or certified translations of degree certificates and transcripts of his home institutions in German or English language for admission to PhD program of RWTH Aachen University.

For more information on the project, please contact Süleyman Yüce (Sueleyman.Yuece@avt.rwth-aachen.de).

Optimal design and operation criteria of constructed wetland-bioelectrochemical systems (CW-BES) for the treatment of wastewater

Project ID: ESR12
Home institution: Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC)
Host institution: Ghent University (UGent)
Start date: Saturday, October 1, 2016
Duration: 3 years
Financing: The PhD scholarships are financed according to the standards of UPC.
Objectives and expected results:

RESEARCH CONTEXT

Constructed wetlands (CW) are natural wastewater treatment systems that have relatively large surface requirements when compared to intensive technologies and are devoted mainly to the sanitation of small human settlements (rural areas). Bioelectrochemical systems (BES) (such as microbial fuel cells – MFC or microbial electrolysis cells - MEC) generate an electric current by means of electrochemically active microorganisms as catalysts either with the implementation of an external power source (MEC) or without it (MFC). For the past years, research on BES implemented in CWs, and more precisely, on horizontal subsurface flow constructed wetlands (HSSF CW), was focused on energy production rather than other BES applications in CWs or design aspects to optimize the technology. This thesis shall address technical and design aspects on the implementation of BES on CWs for the optimization of wastewater treatment system efficiency and control and the recovery of valuable products (such as micronutrients).

 

OBJECTIVES

The main objective is to provide optimal design and operation criteria of constructed wetland-bioelectrochemical systems (CW-BES) for the treatment of wastewater”.

 

This overall objective can be subdivided in the following specific research objectives:

  • Specific objective 1; To assess wastewater treatment performance of CWBES in MFC and MEC mode, regarding
    • common pollutants (e.g. organic matter, ammonia) and
    • emerging contaminants

as well as under different conditions in terms of

    • flow (continuous/discontinuous) and
    • organic and hydraulic loading (high/low)

 

  • Specific objective 2; To assess whether it is possible to use MFC current generation as indirect measure of bacterial activity

 

  • Specific objective 3; To assess the effects macrophytes on CWMFC performance

 

  • Specific objective 4; To find out whether CWBES have an effect on micronutrient recovery.

 

  • Specific objective 5; To test the potential of MFCs as biosensors
Planned secondment(s):

A 6-month secondement is planned at UGent to study the potential of CWs for recovery of micronutrients.

 

Internship: at AMPHOS 21  to acquire knowledge on the management and control of wastewater treatment systems. 

22/07/2019 - 06/09/2019 (46 days)

16/09/2019 - 30/09/2019 (15 days)

61 days in total

Specific entry requirements:

For more information on the project, please contact Prof. Jaume Puigagut (Jaume.Puigagut@upc.edu) or Msc. Ir. Marco Hartl (marco.hartl@upc.edu)

Optimization of algae-based wastewater treatment systems towards enhanced water reuse and recovery of micro-algae for biogas and high value compounds production

Project ID: ESR13
Home institution: Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC)
Host institution: Ghent University (UGent)
Main supervisor: Ivet Ferrer, Anna Garfi
Start date: Saturday, October 1, 2016
Duration: 3 years
Financing: The PhD scholarships are financed according to the standards of UPC.
Objectives and expected results:

Algae-based wastewater treatment systems are promising solutions to shift the paradigm from wastewater treatment to resources recovery. The use of microalgae for recovery of energy, nutrients and high value compounds from wastewater may improve environmental and economic sustainability of wastewater treatment systems. However, technological processes and reactors/systems should be improved to render transformation of wastewater into valuable products more effectively. This research project aims to optimize algae-based wastewater treatment systems and identify configurations that would make resources recovery more efficient and feasible.

Objective 1) Optimize configurations of high rate algal ponds (HRAPs) systems for urban wastewater treatment and explore the energy recovery from the biomass through biogas production.

Objective 2) Investigate the use of photobioreactors (PBRs) for tertiary treatment and explore the recovery of high-value phycochemicals (e.g. pigments) through various extraction and purification techniques.

Objective 3) Biogas and high-value compounds recovery technologies will be assessed and compared from a technical, environmental and economic point of view. In particular, a life cycle assessment (LCA) and a life cycle costing (LCC) will be carried out to evaluate the feasibility and sustainability of these alternatives and their combinations.

Planned secondment(s):

Ghent University

Extraction of high-value compounds from microalgae

6 months: 04/02/2019 – 04/08/2019

 

 

Simbiente – Environmental Engineering and Management Ltda.

Carry out the life cycle costing (LCC)

2 months: 18/11/2018 – 13/01/2019 and 23/09/2019 – 29/09/2019

Specific entry requirements:

Ivet Ferrer (ivet.ferrer@upc.edu); Marianna Garfí (marianna.garfi@upc.edu)

Understanding environmental, economic and social sustainability for recovery of products from waste water

Project ID: ESR14
Home institution: Delft University of Technology (TU delft)
Host institution: Ghent University (UGent)
Main supervisor: Patricia Osseweijer, John Posada
Cosupervisors: Jo Dewulf, Anna Garfi
Start date: Saturday, October 1, 2016
Duration: 36 months, may be extended up to 48 months
Financing:
Objectives and expected results:

Objectives

  • Understand the most sensitive issues of sustainability for products and energy recovery from waste water streams, and develop a learning approach for responsible research and innovation from the R&D activities developed within the project;
  • Translate research activities and findings into policy recommendations;
  • Design a model for integral sustainability impact analysis for research design and policy advise.

Expected results

  • Environmental, social and economic impacts assessment of technologies/processes for recovery of products and energy from waste water streams;
  • Analysis of societal challenges for technologies deployment;
  • Approach for interaction with scientists to exchange information on sustainability impacts and challenges as a tool for responsible research and innovation;
  • Model to fully describe and integrate the most sensitive issues of sustainability for products and energy recovery from waste water streams;
  • Identification of sustainability sensitivities and hurdles;
  • Policy recommendations based on findings from the integral sustainability analysis;
Planned secondment(s):

2 stays of four months each after completion of the 1st and 2nd years of the PhD research (for multicriteria analysis and LCA), and 2 internships at OVAM of one month each in the first and last year.

Specific entry requirements:
  • The candidate should have a Master degree in any of the following areas and (demonstrable) experience in at least one other: chemical engineering, biochemical engineering, process engineering, waste treatment technologies, environmental engineering, or environmental sciences.
  • The candidate should have an affinity for understanding the broader context of waste treatment technologies, and their socio-economic and environmental impacts, as well as on sustainability issues and on circular economy .
  • The candidate should demonstrate fluency in English and good communication/reporting skills.
  • Willingness to change working location during the investigation (Delft University of Technology, University of Gent and internship and OVAM)

For more information on the project, please contact: Dr. John A. Posada (J.A.PosadaDuque@tudelft.nl).

Impact of governance and mutual decision making in the chain of stakeholders on implementation of resource recovery technologies

Project ID: ESR15
Home institution: Delft University of Technology (TU delft)
Host institution: Ghent University (UGent)
Main supervisor: Patricia Osseweijer, Lotte Asveld
Cosupervisors: Thomas Block, Erik Paredis
Start date: Saturday, October 1, 2016
Duration: 36 months, may be extended up to 48 months
Financing:
Objectives and expected results:

Research background

The SuPER-W programme takes as a starting point that a paradigm shift is required in waste water treatment. Although SuPER-W is mainly focused on the development of new technologies, the ambition to create a paradigm shift involves much more than just the introduction of technology. A paradigm shift (of which technologies will form one part) will lead to uncertainties within waste treatment networks and undermine existing configurations within waste value chains.

Research objective

The main aim of the research is to analyse and understand the politics and the governance challenges that arise from the intended paradigm shift (or transition) in the waste (water) sector. This can start from a mapping of the existing dependencies between actors in the waste value chain, understanding their basic assumptions and value frameworks, and identifying possibly sources of conflict. It further entails analysing the potential shifts in actor coalitions and conflicts of interests, the resulting institutionalisation and rule formation, and the governance settings in which multi-actor negotiations and cooperation take place.

Expected results

Identification of bottlenecks and the formulation of policy recommendations for resource recovery and circular economy.

Implications of governance in support of a paradigm shift for the development of new business cases in the field of resource recovery.

Novel ways to integrate negotiations over societal concerns and conflicts of interests into the innovation trajectory.

Research question:

The main research question is: “What are the politics of a paradigm shift (or transition) from waste (water) treatment to resource recovery and circular economy and what are its implications for the governance of existing and emerging networks in this sector?”

Research approach

Empirically, the research will be based on three cases involving the introduction of new waste recovery technologies and existing models for the management of new technologies. One of the cases will be situated at OVAM, the Flemish public waste management office. A second case will be situated in the Netherlands and will involve a water waste recovery technology, for instance one developed at Delft University of Technology. The last remains to be decided.

In terms of theory and analytical framework, the research will build on disciplines such as Science and Technology Studies, Transition Studies, Political Theories and Innovation Management.

Planned secondment(s):

UGent, 2x4 months, month 12-15 + month 24-27, to study impact of governance +internship at OVAM in first and last year

Specific entry requirements:
  • Master degree in one of the following subjects: Political science, Policy Management, Sociology, Political Economy, Philosophy
  • Interest in sustainability issues, circular economy and/or sustainable management of materials
  • Affinity with Social Studies of Technology, transition management and/or governance studies is an advantage
  • Proficiency in Dutch is a requirement because of cases within Belgium and The Netherlands
  • Experience with qualitative research methods
  • Willingness to change working location during the investigation (Delft University of Technology, Ghent University and internship at OVAM + possibly second case in the Netherlands)

For more information on the project, please contact Lotte Asveld: l.asveld@tudelft.nl / 0031-15-2786691

Closing the micronutrient: exploration of micronutrient-rich bioproducts generated from wastewater as environmental-friendly micronutrient supplements and fertilizers

Project ID:
Home institution:
Host institution:
Main supervisor:
Cosupervisors:
Start date: Saturday, October 1, 2016
Duration: 4 years
Financing: The PhD scholarships is financed by Chinese government and BOF funding of Gent.
Objectives and expected results:

In present, elements dissolved in water, such as metals and metalloids, have an economic value and are in strong and increasing demand. Metals and metalloids may be recovered from wastewater for different purposes. Micronutrients may be recovered to be used in food/feed supplements or crop fertilizers. In this project, some biobased methods (bioadsorption, bioprecipitation, microalgae-based or phytoremediation) will be developed and applied to selectively remove essential trace elements from wastewater. Afterwards, these micronutrient-rich materials will be tested for their potential use as micronutrient fertilizer or food/feed supplement by studying the bioavailability and bioaccessibility of micronutrients contained in these products, leading to the production of environment-friendly micronutrient fertilisers and supplements from waste streams. The purpose of this project is to realize the trace element recycle, which not only be able to clean the excessive trace element in waste water, but also can produce enrich-micronutrient product and then solve the problem of micronutrient deficiency.

Planned secondment(s):

A 6-month internship is planned at UPC for Se and Zn recovery from wastewater by using microalgae. A 6-month internship has been finished in UNESCO-IHE about Se and Zn recovery from wastewater by anaerobic digestion and phytoremediation.  

Specific entry requirements:

The candidates should have an MSc degree in environmental science, chemical engineering or other related areas.

For more information on the project, please contact Gijs Du Laing (Gijs.DuLaing@UGent.be)

Development of (bio)sorption and (bio)leaching processes for the recovery of valuable metals from waste using a novel high throughput experimentation platform

Project ID:
Home institution:
Host institution: To be decided
Main supervisor:
Cosupervisors:
Start date: Tuesday, November 1, 2016
Duration: 4 years
Financing: This PhD is funded by Ghent University – Special Research Fund (BOF).
Objectives and expected results:

In order to come up with hybrid recovery technologies, the development of a high throughput experimentation platform would be useful. This platform will allow the study of leaching and adsorption/desorption efficiencies of a wide range of materials as function of different conditions in a much shorter timeframe. Thus, this research aims (1) to set up and optimize a high throughput experimentation platform for biosorption and bioleaching of metals; (2) to apply this platform in developing a sorption-based process for selective recovery of technology-critical elements from industrial wastewaters; and (3) to apply this platform in developing a leaching process to selectively recover valuable metals from mine tailings.

Planned secondment(s):

RWTH Aachen or UPC Barcelona

Specific entry requirements:

The candidates should have a MSc degree in environmental science, chemical engineering or other related areas.

For more information on the project, please contact Gijs Du Laing (Gijs.DuLaing@UGent.be)