The Department of Biological and Chemical Engineering, Aarhus University, invites applications for a 2-year postdoc position offering applicants an exciting opportunity to help the establishment of a first of its kind industrial Hydrothermal liquefaction reactor at a wastewater treatment plant.
 
Expected start date and duration of employment
This is a 2–year position from 1 September 2022 or as soon possible.
 
Job description
The main responsibilities of the candidate will lie in:
 

  • Support the establishment, testing and optimisation of the industrial Hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL) plant.
  • Process analysis (mass and energy) of the HTL plant, it’s integration with the wastewater treatment plant and the refinery.
  • Analysis of the produced biocrude, process water, gas and solid residue to establish mass balances and optimal use of the products.
  • Detailed analysis and evaluation of the HTL solid residue and its possible uses as fertiliser or other applications.
  • Writing scientific publications of the results obtained from running the HTL plant, its products and integration.
  • Active participation in the supervision and training of MSc, BSc and PhD students.

The position is enabled by the EUDP funded project Sludge2Fuel, where several companies are working together with Aarhus University to establish a HTL plant at the wastewater treatment plant in Fridericia, Denmark. The plant is expected to operational in December 2022. Most of the work will be carried out to support the development of this plant, once it is running and before. The work will expand on the on-going research using a pilot-scale, continuous, hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL) reactor at the Foulum Campus of Aarhus University. See bce.au.dk/biorefining for more details about the plant and research group. This HTL plant is currently one of the largest worldwide in academic settings and around 1/20th in terms of capacity to the new plant (~100 kg/h vs ~2000 kg/h). The work will be carried out as part of the Sludge2Fuel consortium (www.sludge2fuel.dk) and a growing team at AU working in hydrothermal processing (carbonization and liquefaction) with currently two faculty members, four postdocs, two PhD students, technicians and varying amounts of MSc students and BSc students.
 
Qualifications
Prior experience in operation, design and maintenance of chemical engineering processes at lab or pilot scale is desired. The candidate is required to have a PhD in chemical engineering, process engineering or similar (or about to complete the degree).
A strong academic background in applied research and publication record are expected. The candidates must demonstrate ability to conduct basic and applied interdisciplinary research, and experience with technology transfer from university to industry is beneficial. It is important that the applicant has the ability to independently evaluate chemical processes in terms of mass and energy balances.
  Additional professional certificates, qualifications and experience in e.g. Health and Safety, electrical work, mechanical engineering, programming are an advantage. Experience in analysis of biomass, biofuels and bioproducts using equipment such as elemental analysis, HPLC, GC-MS and similar are essential skills for the candidate.

The ideal candidate has all or several of the following qualifications and specific competences:

  • A PhD degree in Chemical Engineering or similar (or about to)
  • The ability to evaluate and optimize chemical engineering processes
  • Experience in operating continuous flow reactors  
  • A solid background in thermochemical processing of biomass, biorefining, biofuels or related areas.
  • The ability to work independently and to generate new ideas and creative approaches.
  • The ability to write peer reviewed academic publications.
  • Is passionate about science and engineering and working in a team dedicated to green technologies.

Who we are
The Department of Biological and Chemical Engineering Within Chemical Engineering, the BCE Department has strong research sections in Environmental Engineering and Materials & Process Engineering. The successful applicant will be working with Chemical Engineering and will produce and disseminate knowledge and research results. Translation of results into solving relevant societal challenges is a highly prioritized part of our work.
 
The position is available through a The Energy Technology Development and Demonstration Programme (EUDP) Project from the Danish Energy Agency called Sludge2Fuel (www.sludge2fuel.dk) . The project started in September 2021 and is expected to finish in October 2024. The aim of the project is to establish the world’s first full-scale HTL plant, integrated with a wastewater treatment plant. The sewage sludge is converted using HTL to bio-crude which is further upgraded by the refinery partner. The process water is treated directly at the wastewater treatment plant. The solid residue is recovered for recycling of phosphorous especially
 
What we offer
The department/centre offers:

  • a well-developed research infrastructure, laboratories and access to shared equipment
  • an exciting interdisciplinary environment with many national, international and industrial collaborators
  • a research climate encouraging lively, open and critical discussion within and across different fields of research
  • a work environment with close working relationships, networking and social activities
  • a workplace characterised by professionalism, equality and a healthy work-life balance.

Place of work and area of employment
The place of work is Hangøvej 2, Aarhus 8200, and the area of employment is Aarhus University with related departments. The position involves frequent travel to the Sludge2Fuel HTL plant in Fredericia (Røde Banke 16, 7000 Fredericia), the AU HTL pilot plant at the AU Campus (Blichers Allee 20, 8820 Tjele) and regular project meetings at partners of the consortium.
 
Contact information
For further information, please contact: Associate Professor, Patrick Biller, pbiller@bce.au.dk.
 
Deadline
Applications must be received no later than 17.07.2022.
 

Application procedure
Shortlisting is used. This means that after the deadline for applications – and with the assistance from the assessment committee chairman, and the appointment committee if necessary, – the head of department selects the candidates to be evaluated. All applicants will be notified whether or not their applications have been sent to an expert assessment committee for evaluation. The selected applicants will be informed about the composition of the committee, and each applicant is given the opportunity to comment on the part of the assessment that concerns him/her self. Once the recruitment process is completed a final letter of rejection is sent to the deselected applicants.
 
Letter of reference
If you want a referee to upload a letter of reference on your behalf, please state the referee’s contact information when you submit your application. We strongly recommend that you make an agreement with the person in question before you enter the referee’s contact information, and that you ensure that the referee has enough time to write the letter of reference before the application deadline.
Unfortunately, it is not possible to ensure that letters of reference received after the application deadline will be taken into consideration.
 
Formalities and salary range
Technical Sciences refers to the Ministerial Order on the Appointment of Academic Staff at Danish Universities under the Danish Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation.

The application must be in English and include a curriculum vitae, degree certificate, a complete list of publications, a statement of future research plans and information about research activities, teaching portfolio and verified information on previous teaching experience (if any). Guidelines for applicants can be found here.

Appointment shall be in accordance with the collective labour agreement between the Danish Ministry of Finance and the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations. Further information on qualification requirements and job content may be found in the Memorandum on Job Structure for Academic Staff at Danish Universities.

Salary depends on seniority as agreed between the Danish Ministry of Finance and the Confederation of Professional Associations.

Aarhus University’s ambition is to be an attractive and inspiring workplace for all and to foster a culture in which each individual has opportunities to thrive, achieve and develop. We view equality and diversity as assets, and we welcome all applicants.

Research activities will be evaluated in relation to actual research time. Thus, we encourage applicants to specify periods of leave without research activities, in order to be able to subtract these periods from the span of the scientific career during the evaluation of scientific productivity.

Aarhus University offers a broad variety of services for international researchers and accompanying families, including relocation service and career counselling to expat partners. Read more here. Please find more information about entering and working in Denmark here.

Aarhus University also offers a Junior Researcher Development Programme targeted at career development for postdocs at AU. You can read more about it here.

The application must be submitted via Aarhus University’s recruitment system, which can be accessed under the job advertisement on Aarhus University's website.

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