PostDoc position: Temperature effects on microbial electrosynthesis from CO2

Updated: 3 months ago
Deadline: 07 Jan 2024

Power-to-Chemicals and Power-to-Fuels processes are the future of the chemical industry. The chemical industry is a major greenhouse gas emitter. To meet their GHG emission reduction target, the chemical industry must use alternative carbon sources (e.g. CO2) and electricity-based processes (Power-to-X). The perspective of a highly electrified chemical industry where renewable feedstocks and energy are the basic ingredients of chemicals is very appealing to many societal, industrial and governmental stakeholders. Microorganisms are able to grow on electrodes and utilize renewable electricity to convert CO2 to valuable chemicals. This Power-to-X process is called microbial electrosynthesis (MES), and is the focus of this postdoctoral project. This postdoc project is part of a larger project (2 PhD and 2 postdocs) and a consortium composed of eight international companies, which all together will investigate heat in CO2 electrolyzers (including MES). A major hurdle in upscaling CO2 electrolyzers is that a significant part of the heat that is generated adversely affects component stability, product throughput and selectivity. In this postdoc project, our state-of-the-art MES process will be used (converting CO2 to C2-C6 carboxylic acids and alcohols) and our distinctive approach will determine the temperature dependency of the biofilm’s functionality and stability as well as the temperature effects at the reactor scale. We will use the attained insights to develop a scalable process under industrially relevant conditions.

The tasks of the postdoctoral researcher will be to characterize the effects of temperature 1) on the microorganisms (i.e. biofilm), with an emphasis on microbial kinetics and microbial physiology, and 2) at the reactor scale using our state-of-the-art reactors, with the objective to optimize process conditions towards scaling up MES. 

The ideal candidate:

  • has a PhD or draft PhD thesis on biochemical engineering, biotechnology, microbiology or equivalent.
  • is a highly motivated and an enthusiastic researcher, with a keen interest in bridging several fields, i.e. microbial electrochemistry and microbiology/microbial physiology.
  • is a strong experimentalist, with experience related to the topic.
  • has strong analytical skills, and a keen interest in the interpretation of complex data.
  • has a sound knowledge basis on (microbial) reaction thermodynamics, kinetics, transport phenomena, and microbial physiology, and experience with microbial electrochemistry and microscopy techniques is valued.
  • is skilled in critical and conceptual thinking for finding and selecting process options that are worthy of experimental study.
  • has a large drive to share results in scientific papers and conferences.
  • is fluent in English, has good communicative/reporting skills, and team working capacity.

Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities.The TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package, discounts on health insurance, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged.

For international applicants, TU Delft has the Coming to Delft Service . This service provides information for new international employees to help you prepare the relocation and to settle in the Netherlands. The Coming to Delft Service offers a Dual Career Programme  for partners and they organise events to expand your (social) network.

Delft University of Technology is built on strong foundations. As creators of the world-famous Dutch waterworks and pioneers in biotech, TU Delft is a top international university combining science, engineering and design. It delivers world class results in education, research and innovation to address challenges in the areas of energy, climate, mobility, health and digital society. For generations, our engineers have proven to be entrepreneurial problem-solvers, both in business and in a social context.

At TU Delft we embrace diversity as one of our core values  and we actively engage  to be a university where you feel at home and can flourish. We value different perspectives and qualities. We believe this makes our work more innovative, the TU Delft community more vibrant and the world more just. Together, we imagine, invent and create solutions using technology to have a positive impact on a global scale. That is why we invite you to apply. Your application will receive fair consideration.

Challenge. Change. Impact!

With more than 1,100 employees, including 150 pioneering principal investigators, as well as a population of about 3,600 passionate students, the Faculty of Applied Sciences is an inspiring scientific ecosystem. Focusing on key enabling technologies, such as quantum- and nanotechnology, photonics, biotechnology, synthetic biology and materials for energy storage and conversion, our faculty aims to provide solutions to important problems of the 21st century. To that end, we educate innovative students in broad Bachelor's and specialist Master's programmes with a strong research component. Our scientists conduct ground-breaking fundamental and applied research in the fields of Life and Health Science & Technology, Nanoscience, Chemical Engineering, Radiation Science & Technology, and Engineering Physics. We are also training the next generation of high school teachers.

Click here to go to the website of the Faculty of Applied Sciences.

Department of Biotechnology

Innovation is crucial to fulfil the potential of industrial biotechnology for sustainable production of fuels, chemicals, materials, food and feed. Similarly, scientific and technological advances in environmental biotechnology are needed to enable novel approaches to water purification, and ‘waste-to-product’ processes thus contributing to a circular economy. Increased fundamental knowledge encompassing enzymes, microorganisms and processes are essential for progress in this field. The Department of Biotechnology covers this research area and, based on new insights, selects, designs and tests new biobased catalysts, micro-organisms, and processes.

The position is available in the section Bioprocess Engineering.

Only for more information about this vacancy, please contact Dr. Ludovic Jourdin, per e-mail ([email protected])

Onlyfor information about the application procedure, please contact Ms. Kawieta Ramautar, Management Assistant, per e-mail ([email protected])

* It is our aim to have the interviews on 17 and 18 January 2024.

Are you interested in this vacancy? Please apply before 7 January 2024 via the application button and upload only your motivation letter and CV.

  • A pre-employment screening can be part of the selection procedure.
  • Applying for an exemption for specific research and educational areas is an obligatory part of the selection procedure for this vacancy. This exemption must be obtained from the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (OCW) before an employment contract is agreed upon. Click here for more information.
  • You can apply online. We will not process applications sent by email and/or post.
  • Please do not contact us for unsolicited services.


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