PhD Position Researcher Designing and Managing the Circular Water Transition

Updated: 2 months ago
Deadline: 02 Jan 2024

Apply systems thinking and trans-disciplinary approaches to design the circular water system of the future!

Delft University of Technology is hiring a PhD candidate in the field of system design for the circular water transition, focusing on the design of circular value chains emerging from the recovery of resources from wastewater streams (desalination brines, urban and industrial wastewater) within the Water and Energy nexus. Such resources include water (of various qualities), minerals, critical raw materials, chemicals, as well as hydrogen.

As the water system is undergoing a transformation towards circularity, carbon-neutrality and sustainability, it is becoming increasingly integrated and therefore also more complex.

The research focuses on the design of circular and sustainable value chains within the Water and Energy nexus. Wastewater treatment technology will be your entry point to study system innovation within the transition to a circular water economy. Technology and artefacts play an important role in fulfilling societal functions namely water supply and wastewater treatment. In recognition of the fact that technologies can only fulfil societal functions in association with human agency and social structures (artefacts in context), the combination of “the social” and ”the technical” (socio-technical system) will be the appropriate unit of analysis of this PhD research. Design interventions are thus targeting the socio-technical system level, with participatory design playing a key role in the design of the circular value chains that will reflect the interests, needs and objectives of (local) stakeholders. These interventions will exploit new technologies and develop new business models for the transition to sustainable and resilient water supply and wastewater treatment. Such insights shall provide actionable advice to decision-makers that can enable market implementation of the novel circular water solutions, as well as to policy-makers. Models for simulating the water treatment processes, as well as the sociotechnical system at large, play a large role in the research. For this different methods will be used, both quantitative and qualitative, originating from both engineering and social sciences.

You will perform independent research and also work together with doctoral candidates in various projects in order to realize synergies between these projects. You will help with education, e.g. in the area of System Design for a circular water economy.

You will work in the Energy and Industry Section of the Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management under the supervision of dr. ir. Dimitris Xevgenos.

  • You like to work in an international, multi-disciplinary environment on water-transition relevant problems, have an open personality and good English language skills.
  • You are able to communicate and collaborate well with international research partners, colleagues and students.
  • You have a Master’s Degree in a field related to chemical or environmental engineering and/or water system analysis.
  • You enjoy performing research, and/or are also interested in developing your education and leadership skills.
  • You have experience and/or affinity with coding (eg in Python) or you are committed to pick-up this skill in the start of your PhD.
  • You are independent, self-motivated and eager to learn, and care about the societal impact of your work.

Doing a PhD at TU Delft requires English proficiency at a certain level to ensure that the candidate is able to communicate and interact well, participate in English-taught Doctoral Education courses, and write scientific articles and a final thesis. For more details please check the Graduate Schools Admission Requirements .

Doctoral candidates will be offered a 4-year period of employment in principle, but in the form of 2 employment contracts. An initial 1,5 year contract with an official go/no go progress assessment within 15 months. Followed by an additional contract for the remaining 2,5 years assuming everything goes well and performance requirements are met.

Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities, increasing from € 2770 per month in the first year to € 3539 in the fourth year. As a PhD candidate you will be enrolled in the TU Delft Graduate School. The TU Delft Graduate School provides an inspiring research environment with an excellent team of supervisors, academic staff and a mentor. The Doctoral Education Programme is aimed at developing your transferable, discipline-related and research skills.

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!

The Faculty of TPM provides an important contribution to solving complex technical-social issues, such as energy transition, mobility, digitalisation, water management and (cyber) security. TPM does this with its excellent education and research at the intersection of technology, society and policy. We combine insights from both engineering and social sciences as well as the humanities. TPM develops robust models and designs, is internationally oriented and has an extensive network of knowledge institutions, companies, social organisations and governments.

Click here  to go to the website of the Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management.

For more information about this vacancy, please contact Dimitris Xevgenos, [email protected] .

Are you interested in this vacancy? Please apply before 2 January 2024 via the application button and upload your motivation and CV.

  • A pre-employment screening can be part of the selection procedure.

  • You can apply online. We will not process applications sent by email and/or post.

  • Please do not contact us for unsolicited services.

For information about the application procedure, please contact Olivie Beek, [email protected] .



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