PhD position in recovering metals and materials from end-of-life Lithium-ion Batteries (LIBs)

Updated: 5 months ago
Job Type: FullTime
Deadline: 09 May 2023

9th May 2023

  • English

The Department of Geoscience and Petroleum has a vacancy for a
PhD position in recovering metals and materials from end-of-life Lithium-ion Batteries (LIBs)
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About the job

We are looking for a motivated person who is interested in joining our team as a PhD candidate to work within the project HolE-LIB – Developing a Holistic Ecosystem for Sustainable Repurposing and/or Recycling of Lithium-ion Batteries (LIBs) in Norway and EU , funded by NTNU Sustainability Call 2021. A total of 5 PhDs will be working within the scope of the project across four faculties and six departments at NTNU.

The successful candidate will be working at the Mineral Processing Laboratory at NTNU. Research and education at the Mineral Processing Laboratory provide vital knowledge on sustainable processing of ores and minerals and the recovery of valuable components from industrial waste. The laboratory is unique in Norway and plays a strategically important role in the shift towards a greener and more circular economy.

From Norway’s perspective, the battery value chain can be seen as an exceptional sustainable value creation opportunity primarily based on Norway's comparative advantage with a competence-driven materials sector based on renewable power. The sustainability depends in part on the ability to reuse and recycle batteries and the compounds they contain. Research into factors which affect customer acceptance in case of repurposed batteries is so far extremely limited. On the other hand, a robust recycling process needs to be developed that can cater to different battery types, designs, chemistries, etc. for competitive disruption of the battery market. Currently, there exists no techno-economically efficient Li recycling process and further, the graphite from lithium-ion battery (LIB) anodes is not recycled. Development of innovative separation processes are expected to positively impact the circular economy and enable sustainable business model (SBM) innovation.

HolE-LIB aims to develop a holistic understanding of the fate of end-of-life batteries by addressing technical, economic, and design perspectives along the battery value chain, complemented by evaluation of SBM scenarios within reuse, repurposing, and recycling.

In this PhD project, the focus will be on developing environmentally sustainable recovery of the metallic and non-metallic components from end-of-life LIBs using physical and chemical methods. Of primary interest, is recovery of graphite and leaching of metals mediated by environmentally benign reagents and purification by froth flotation.

The PhD candidate will be supervised by Professor Przemyslaw B. Kowalczuk , Department of Geoscience and Petroleum (IGP), in collaboration with Associate Professor Sulalit Bandyopadhyay , Department of Chemical Engineering.

For a position as a PhD Candidate, the goal is a completed doctoral education up to an obtained doctoral degree. The period of employment 4 years with 25% of compulsory work

Your immediate leader is the Head of Department of Geoscience and Petroleum.

Duties of the position
  • Characterization of materials using the chemical and analytical infrastructure at the Department of Geoscience and Petroleum (IGP) and Particle Engineering Core Facility (IKP)
  • Physical separation of non-metallic graphite component by froth flotation aided by multi-gravity, magnetic and electrostatic techniques
  • Leaching of metals mediated by environmentally benign reagents (green surfactants as extractants) and purification by flotation
  • Optimisation of parameters including the choice of green reagent for selective concentration of metals from the leaching solution
  • The candidate is expected to be flexible in regard to short-term or long-term international research stays
  • Travelling with respect to conferences, meetings, workshops may be expected as part of the position
  • Conduct academic writing and publishing results in acknowledged peer-reviewed journals
  • Report progress on a regular basis and in agreement with supervisors

Required selection criteria
  • You must have a professionally relevant background in one or more of the disciplines: mineral processing, minerals engineering, surface chemistry, chemical engineering, materials science and engineering, including laboratory experience
  • Your education must correspond to a five-year Norwegian degree program, where 120 credits are obtained at master's level
  • You must have a strong academic background from your previous studies and an average grade from the master's degree program, or equivalent education, which is equal to B or better compared with NTNU's grading scale. If you do not have letter grades from previous studies, you must have an equally good academic basis. If you have a weaker grade background, you may be assessed if you can document that you are particularly suitable for a PhD education
  • You must meet the requirements for admission to the faculty's doctoral program ( )
  • Very good oral and written communication skills in English

The research in this position has civilian objectives. The candidate is required to work with technologies regulated by export control laws. Candidates that might conflict with this requirement will not be evaluated.

The appointment is to be made in accordance with Regulations on terms of employment for positions such as postdoctoral fellow, Phd candidate, research assistant and specialist candidate and Regulations concerning the degrees of Philosophiae Doctor (PhD) and Philosodophiae Doctor (PhD) in artistic research national guidelines for appointment as PhD, post doctor and research assistant 

Preferred selection criteria
  • Strong experimental background within mineral processing unit operations, in particular froth flotation
  • Experience in chemical, microscopic, and macroscopic properties of materials using advanced analytical equipment
  • Knowledge or experience in surface chemistry and/or surfactant chemistry is an advantage
  • The ability to conduct high-quality research and publish results in acknowledged peer-reviewed journals
  • Good work ethic, time management and organization skills

Personal characteristics
  • Ability to take initiative and work independently
  • Ambitious and goal oriented
  • A positive and professional attitude as well as being a good team-worker
  • Social adaptability and communication skills
  • Willingness to learn new skillsets

Emphasis will be placed on personal and interpersonal qualities.

We offer
  • exciting and stimulating tasks in a strong international academic environment
  • an open and inclusive work environment with dedicated colleagues
  • favourable terms in the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund
  • employee benefits

Salary and conditions

As a PhD candidate (code 1017) you are normally paid from gross NOK 501 200 per annum before tax, depending on qualifications and seniority. From the salary, 2% is deducted as a contribution to the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund.

The period of employment is 3 years, or 4 years with 25% of compulsory work (a dicision of 3 or 4 years is made in connection with the recommendation and offer, after assessment of whether compulsory work is suitable for the relevant candidate).

Appointment to a PhD position requires that you are admitted to the PhD programme in engineering ( ) within three months of employment, and that you participate in an organized PhD programme during the employment period.


The engagement is to be made in accordance with the regulations in force concerning State Employees and Civil Servants , and the acts relating to Control of the Export of Strategic Goods, Services and Technology. Candidates who by assessment of the application and attachment are seen to conflict with the criteria in the latter law will be prohibited from recruitment to NTNU. After the appointment you must assume that there may be changes in the area of work.

It is a prerequisite you can be present at and accessible to the institution daily.

About the application

The application and supporting documentation to be used as the basis for the assessment must be in English.

Publications and other scientific work must follow the application. Please note that your application will be considered based solely on information submitted by the application deadline. You must therefore ensure that your application clearly demonstrates how your skills and experience fulfil the criteria specified above.

The application must include:

  • CV and certificates
  • transcripts and diplomas for bachelor's and master's degrees. If you have not completed the master's degree, you must submit a confirmation that the master's thesis has been submitted
  • A copy of the master's thesis. If you recently have submitted your master's thesis, you can attach a draft of the thesis. Documentation of a completed master's degree must be presented before taking up the position
  • Research statement dedicated to the needs of this position (max. 1 page) that should include: a short presentation of the motivation for a PhD student, how the applicant sees his/her background suitable for this position, the applicant’s view of research challenges within the area of this position
  • Name and contact information of three referees
  • If you have publications or other relevant research work

If all, or parts, of your education has been taken abroad, we also ask you to attach documentation of the scope and quality of your entire education, both bachelor's and master's education, in addition to other higher education. Description of the documentation required can be found here . If you already have a statement from NOKUT, please attach this as well.

We will take joint work into account. If it is difficult to identify your efforts in the joint work, you must enclose a short description of your participation.

In the evaluation of which candidate is best qualified, emphasis will be placed on education, experience and personal and interpersonal qualities. Motivation, ambitions, and potential will also count in the assessment of the candidates. 

NTNU is committed to following evaluation criteria for research quality according to The San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment - DORA.

General information

orking at NTNU

NTNU believes that inclusion and diversity is our strength. We want to recruit people with different competencies, educational backgrounds, life experiences and perspectives to contribute to solving our social responsibilities within education and research. We will facilitate for our employees’ needs.

NTNU is working actively to increase the number of women employed in scientific positions and has a number of resources to promote equality.  


The city of Trondheim is a modern European city with a rich cultural scene. Trondheim is the innovation capital of Norway with a population of 200,000. The Norwegian welfare state, including healthcare, schools, kindergartens and overall equality, is probably the best of its kind in the world. Professional subsidized day-care for children is easily available. Furthermore, Trondheim offers great opportunities for education (including international schools) and possibilities to enjoy nature, culture and family life and has low crime rates and clean air quality.


As an employee at NTNU, you must at all times adhere to the changes that the development in the subject entails and the organizational changes that are adopted.

A public list of applicants with name, age, job title and municipality of residence is prepared after the application deadline. If you want to reserve yourself from entry on the public applicant list, this must be justified. Assessment will be made in accordance with current legislation . You will be notified if the reservation is not accepted.

If you have any questions about the position, please contact Professor Przemyslaw B. Kowalczuk , e-mail, or Associate Professor Sulalit Bandyopadhyay , e-mail: If you have any questions about the recruitment process, please contact Anne-Lise Brekken, e-mail: 

If you think this looks interesting and in line with your qualifications, please submit your application electronically via with your CV, diplomas and certificates attached. Applications submitted elsewhere will not be considered. Upon request, you must be able to obtain certified copies of your documentation.  

Application deadline: 09.05.2023.

NTNU - knowledge for a better world

NTNU - knowledge for a better world

The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) creates knowledge for a better world and solutions that can change everyday life.


Department of Geoscience and Petroleum

We conduct teaching and research related to management of Earth’s geological resources. Norway’s rich resources of wind, water, oil, gas and minerals have been and are essential to the country’s prosperity, and will continue to be in the future. The Department plays a key role in the development of technology and the education of graduates who enable value creation based on our natural resources. The Department of Geoscience and Petroleum is one of eight departments in the Faculty of Engineering.

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9th May 2023


NTNU - Norwegian University of Science and Technology




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Institutt for geovitenskap og petroleum


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