Postdoctoral Position in Novel Plastic Sorting Methods Based on Markers

Catholic University of Leuven

The Ameloot group is part of the KU Leuven Center for Membrane Separations, Adsorption, Catalysis, and Spectroscopy (cMACS), which counts 6 PIs and >130 members. Sustainable methods, novel materials, membranes, films and their interfaces are a core research topic at cMACS. In this context, our group studies different ways to improve plastic recycling through better material detection. KU Leuven (University of Leuven) has been a center of learning for nearly six centuries. Today, it is Belgium's largest and highest-ranked university and, founded in 1425, one of the oldest and most renowned universities in Europe. The university caters to over 60 000 students from more than 140 countries. KU Leuven's three doctoral schools provide internationally oriented PhD tracks for more than 4 000 doctoral students. KU Leuven and affiliated knowledge institutes provide fertile ground for innovation and high-tech entrepreneurship in the Leuven region. This favorable climate for knowledge-driven entrepreneurship and innovation makes the Leuven region an attractive location for many high-tech companies. More info:


While plastics are arguably the most versatile materials, recycling remains a challenge. In particular, many dark-colored plastics are currently not recycled (i.e., incinerated or landfilled) due to a lack of suitable methods to identify the plastic type and subsequent sorting. Join us to explore novel & more efficient ways to sort and recycle plastics. We are looking for a motivated postdoctoral research fellow to combine the following topics:

(i) Tagging black plastics from waste electronics and automotive shredder residue with different dyes according to a patent filed by our group. You figure out which relevant plastics can be distinguished using this approach as well as its reliability and limitations.

(ii) Tagging and sorting relevant plastics that are currently not yet in our portfolio, you explore other (dye) chemistries as alternative detection mechanisms. In general, you develop a deep understanding of the mechanisms, if necessary, with computational methods.

(iii) You increase the technology readiness level of your process to showcase the feasibility of industrial applications. Besides the science, you keep an eye on the market requirements and set priorities accordingly.    
In this postdoctoral project, you will be working together with scientists and engineers with complementary expertise in polymer chemistry and spectroscopy. Part of this project will be carried out in collaboration with industrial players. For more information on the research group coordinating this project, please refer to  and


We are looking for:

  • A motivated candidate with a strong academic track record and a PhD in sustainable chemistry, polymer chemistry, plastics recycling, or a related field in Science and Engineering.
  • A candidate passionate about resource management, industrial applications, and novel techniques
  • An experienced researcher willing to work as part of an interdisciplinary team and eager to guide younger colleagues starting out in the field.
  • Previous demonstrations of out-of-the-box thinking. Bonus points if you consider yourself a 'maker' and practical problem solver, tell us what you are doing!
  • Since we target real-world applications through our research, an interest in valorization (e.g., spin-off creation) is a plus.
  • Since we are a highly international team, proficiency in both written and spoken English is non-negotiable.

Please consider applying if you have several of the following skills:

  • Required: Expertise in polymer chemistry, material characterization, and data analysis.
  • Experience with recycling or resource management is a plus.
  • Other skills that you think are relevant (please explain in your cover letter).


An interesting research position in the vibrant student town of Leuven with a project that makes sense: we are strongly interested in solving real-world problems and applying our science to actual industrial problems. 


Please submit your application through the KU Leuven portal. In case you have questions about this job opportunity, please contact Prof. Rob Ameloot ( via email and mention "Postdoc position plastics sorting" in the subject line.

Preferred starting date: as soon as your schedule permits

You can apply for this job no later than June 02, 2023 via the
KU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments. If you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us at
  • Employment percentage: Voltijds
  • Location: Leuven
  • Apply before: June 2, 2023
  • Tags: Chemie
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