PhD position: electro-driven membranes for ion resource recovery

Updated: 6 months ago
Deadline: 21 Apr 2023

(ref. BAP-2023-131)

Laatst aangepast : 9/03/2023

The PhD position is open within the Group of Smart Responsive Separation with Hybrid Processes at KU Leuven under the supervision of Prof. dr. Xing Yang. The Yang Research Group focuses on process intensification strategies for designing low-emission and energy efficient separation systems utilizing smart responsive materials with nano/micro-structured interfaces, reactive kinetics and optimal separation units. The hybridisation of separation technologies (e.g., membrane, extraction, crystallization, absorption and chromatography) is the key tool to design an Energy-Efficient Separation Systems for Sustainability (2E3S), assisted with experimental research and process system engineering via multi-scale numerical modeling


One of the global challenges for the transition to sustainable energy is the need for certain critical raw materials. The European Union recently announced to ban fossil fuel cars by 2035, preparing the switch to electric cars. With the increasing demand, metal ions such as lithium and cobalt are crucial components of lithium-ion batteries and are essential for the production of smartphones and electric cars. Although there are enormous ion resources hidden in the ocean and to be recovered from waste batteries, how to efficiently obtain them in industry-grade purity and in a scalable manner remains a bottleneck of existing separation technologies. The IonFracMem project (European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant aims to address this challenge by developing novel membranes that combine fast throughput with accurate fractionation of target ions in high purity.

To achieve this ambitious goal we are seeking a high caliber PhD candidate to be part of this exciting research program and design novel ion exchange membranes for effectively recovering valuable ion resources from waste and natural streams, by combining experimental and modeling approaches. The position requires background in chemical engineering and membrane separation technology, prior experiences on electrochemistry testing and molecular dynamic simulations would be advantageous. 


If you are highly motivated researchers in the areas of Chemical Engineering with passion in resource recovery and sustainability, you are strongly encouraged to enquire and apply.

Profile required:

  • Requirement: Master's degree in Chemical Engineering or in relevant disciplines, with first class honour / high distinction.
  • Strong interest and solid knowledge in the relevant fields as described.
  • Fluent English (written and verbal communication) for scientific interactions required (language requirements by KU Leuven
  • Self-motivated, passionate and great interpersonal skills. 
  • With international mobility, and willingness to work at interdisciplinary boundaries and in an international team. 

Application Documents:

Interested candidates please send through a research statement outlining your main research interest, a comprehensive resume including your full list of publications and project experiences, evidence of language proficiency if applicable, and names of three referees.


The successful candidate will be offered a PhD fellowship to become part of our international team with global research links to work towards a PhD. Funding can be provided for a period of 4 years with attractive stipend in the range of 2,2k to 2,5k Euro per month. The tuition fee for scholarship holders will be waived.


For more information, please contact Prof. dr. Xing Yang via email:xing.yang@kuleuven.beThe applications should ONLY be received via the official university portal. The shortlisting will commence by 14 April 2023 and will continue until position is filled. ONLY shortlisted candidates will be informed of interview arrangements at each stage of the selection.

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