PhD in Alginate (ALE) micro- and nano-composites Delft University of Technology, Faculty Applied Sciences Netherlands

PhDs Alginate (ALE) micro- and nano-composites

Department/faculty: Faculty Applied Sciences

Level: University Graduate

Working hours: 38.0 hours weekly

Contract: 4 years

Salary: 2222 - 2840 euros monthly (full-time basis)

Faculty Applied Sciences


The Faculty of Applied Sciences is the largest faculty of TU Delft, with around 550 scientists, a support staff of 250 and 1,800 students. The faculty conducts fundamental, application-oriented research and offers scientific education at the bachelor, master and doctoral levels. The faculty is active in the fields of Life and Health Science & Technology, Nanoscience, Chemical Engineering, Radiation Science & Technology, and Applied Physics.

Although both positions are allocated in different departments they form part of an integral project team that pursues to contribute to the development of a circular economy by developing of new high performance materials based on wastewater derived biopolymers.

The Department of Biotechnology ( engages in research in the fields of biocatalysis, bioprocess engineering, cell systems engineering, environmental biotechnology, industrial microbiology, and biotechnology and society. The department offers a stimulating environment in the biosciences, combining fundamental research, engineering, and design, all directed towards biotechnological process innovations. The department moved recently to a brand-new building, which also houses the Bionanoscience and Chemical Engineering departments. In our recently established virtual TU Delft Institute of BioEngineering we explore interfaces with other departments and faculties at the TU Delft.

The Department of Chemical Engineering ( promotes the pursuit and dissemination of knowledge in chemistry and chemical engineering, with a focus on materials for energy and health applications. We aspire to improve the quality of life in a sustainable society through discovery and innovation, the quality of life of our graduates through inspiration and teaching, and the quality of life of our peers through collaboration and exchange. With a proud heritage in chemical engineering, the department seeks to break new ground in areas where molecular understanding and engineering design meet. The Advanced Soft Matter (ASM) research group is focused on the development and characterisation of new, functional, soft molecular and polymer materials, as well as the design and synthesis of new functional molecules and polymers. Examples include dynamic gels and surfactants, self-healing materials and out-of -equilibrium systems, often formed by self-assembly or directed self-assembly of molecular building blocks. Materials of interest may range from bio-organic to opto-electronic, nanostructured materials.


Job description

We are searching for PhD candidates for the recently granted NWO Gesloten Kringlopen (Closed Cycles) project 'Nanocycle'. The NWO Closed Cycles programme aims to promote studies on topics that enhance our knowledge on Cyclic Economy related subjects. The Nanocycle Project examins the properties of the alginate like exopolymer (ALE) derived from granular sludge based processes, such as the Nereda wastewater treatment process.

PhD 1

This study aims to understand the microbiological processes that govern microbial extracellular polymer (i.e. ALE) formation in aerobic granular sludge in Nereda reactors. With the knowledge of the fundamental cellular processes (genetic and metabolic regulation) process conditions that lead to formation of an optimised biopolymer will have to be developed.

PhD 2

This PhD study concerns the investigation of the ultimate mechanical properties of ALE (and alginate) (bio)polymer based micro- and nano-composites, where we propose to build on our current expertise and understanding. The indications are that competitive high materials performance can be obtained by intelligent design of the material's formulation and processing, making use of detaled insight in macromolecule physics, control of interactions and explicit use of non-equilibrium structure formation processes. In particulat the stiffness, light weight, non-flammbility, bio-based and low-cost combination is quite unique.

PhD candidates are expected to follow the various courses as specified by the graduate school and contribute part of their time to teaching assistance.



PhD 1: Academic MSc level in Life Science with affinity for (meta)genomic and metabolomic approaches

PhD 2: Academic MSc level in (technical) physics, chemsitry or materials science;

General: Good knowledge of English; Good writing skills and demonstrated aptitude for academic research.  


Conditions of employment

TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package, a discount for health insurance and sport memberships, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged. An International Children’s Centre offers childcare and an international primary school. Dual Career Services offers support to accompanying partners. Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities.

As a PhD candidate you will be enrolled in the TU Delft Graduate School. TU Delft Graduate School provides an inspiring research environment; an excellent team of supervisors, academic staff and a mentor; and a Doctoral Education Programme aimed at developing your transferable, discipline-related and research skills. Please visit for more information.

For more information about this position, please contact Prof. Mark van Loosdrecht, e-mail: (PhD1) and Prof. Stephen Picken, e-mail: (PhD2).

Information and application

For more information about the selection procedure, plesae contact Veby Agus, Management Assistant, e-mail:

To apply for this position, please e-mail a CV and a letter of application by 1 June 2018 to (PhD1) and to (PhD2). Please send a copy to Ms. Veby Agus, e-mail:

When applying for one of these positions, please refer to vacancy number TNWCE18-026.


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