PhD Position in the Next-Generation Functional Membranes for Hypersaline Brine Treatment

Catholic University of Leuven Department of Chemical Engineering

• The main part of the PhD research (30 months) will be performed at KU Leuven in the Department of Chemical Engineering, under the supervision of Prof. Bart Van der Bruggen. The ESR will join the division “Process Engineering for Sustainable Systems” (ProcESS) of the department. • The PhD project includes two academic research stays of 2 months: at ITM-CNR (Italy), under the supervision of Dr. Loredana De Bartolo, and at VSCHT (Czechia), under the supervision of Prof. Karel Bouzek, and 2 months of industrial secondment at the company AQUALIA (Spain).



The PhD willdevelop novel high performance electrically charged thin-film nanocompositepolyamide membranes embedding UiO-66-NH2 nanofillers or modified hydrophilicZeolitic Imidazolate Framework ZIF nanoparticles (a subset of MOFs) forselective monovalent/multivalent ion separation via Nanofiltration (NF). Thestability of these membrane under high-salinity environment will beinvestigated at ITM-CNR (Italy) in collaboration with the PhD student active atITM-CNR. The modelling of ions transport through these membranes, carried outat VSCHT (Czechia) in collaboration with the PhD student active at VSCHT, willdrive the performance optimization of this stage. At AQUALIA (Spain),separation tests will be carried out on real Seawater Reverse Osmosisdesalination brine (raising TRL from 3 to 5); the market potential of novel NFmembranes will be evaluated against commercial modules as benchmark.

The PhDwill contribute to the following objectives: 1) Development of next-generationmultifunctional materials for advanced membranes applied in ion fractionation,sunlight driven photothermal brine evaporation and Salinity Gradient Powergeneration; 2) Characterization of 2D materials and membranes; 3) Assessment ofthe long-term stability of membranes against wetting, scaling and biofouling.

Collaborationswith ITM-CNR (Italy), VSCHT (Czechia) and AQUALIA (Italy) will be key for thePhD and overall project success.

The ESRwill attend: i) laboratory-based Training through Research; ii) advancedscientific and technical courses delivered at Network Meetings and EXBRINERSchools; iii) soft and transferable skill courses; iv) courses and events ofthe Arenberg Doctoral School; v) meetings from the research group and department.As a MSCA fellow, the ESR is also expected to contribute in the disseminationof the PhD Project’s results in Conferences and publications in high rankinternational scientific journals.


• An outstanding MSc degree in Chemical Engineering, Process Engineering, Environmental Engineering or Energetic engineering 
• Research experience on membrane processes and/or thermal and solar processes will be appreciated 
• Interest for technological developments and building prototypes 
• An integrative and cooperative personality with excellent communication and social skills 
• Fluency in English – written and oral 
• Strict eligibility requirements for a Doctoral Candidate position in a MSCA-DN program include: 
• not have resided, worked or studied in Belgium for more than 12 months in the 3 years prior to the start date of the PhD research. Belgian citizens can apply if they respect the mobility requirement. 
• be in early research career and not yet have been awarded a doctorate. 


Contract:Employment contract from KU Leuven for a full-time position of doctoralresearcher for 36 months, with a monthly salary. Preferred starting date : 1April 2023.

Salary: According to the rules of the MSCADoctoral Networks: EU Researcher Allowances will be used to cover both theemployee's as the employer's mandatory charges.


To applyfor the position, kindly provide before the 15th February 2023:

i)                   SignedLetter of Motivation, in English, covering the following aspects: reasons forapplying to the PhD position, skills and abilities that make the applicant agood candidate, motivations to carry out research abroad, professionalinterests and expectations. Maximum one page.

ii)                  CurriculumVitae, in English, detailing academic studies, professional career, publicationsand other relevant achievements;

iii)                Copyof academic qualification(s)/parchment(s) – in original language and translatedin English – clearly stating the name of the University issuing the degree, thedate of graduation, the final score; copies of official transcripts (marksheets) of academic courses attended to obtain each degree (BSc, MSc orequivalent) - in original language and translated in English – andcorresponding Grade Point Average; any other document considered useful (e.g.University Diploma Supplement) to assess the eligibility of the UniversityDegree - in original language and translated in English

iv)                Maxtwo Reference Letters, in English, printed on letterhead and duly signed;

v)                  Conciserecognition on the state-of-the-art (3,000-4,000 characters), in English, onthe topic addressed by the Individual Research Project;

vi)                Copyof the first two and last two pages of the Passport or – for EU citizens - ofthe Identity Card; 

For more information please contact Prof. dr. ir. Bart Van der Bruggen, tel.: +32 16 32 23 40, mail:

You can apply for this job no later than February 15, 2023 via the
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  • Employment percentage: Voltijds
  • Location: Leuven
  • Apply before: February 15, 2023
  • Tags: Chemische Ingenieurstechnieken
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