Chemical modification of depolymerized lignin fractions

Host institute:

The Unit of Separation and Conversion Technology (SCT, Flemish Institute for Technological Research, VITO) develops technologies for the sustainability of production processes in the (bio)chemical sector, replacement or reuse of fossil resources for the chemical industry and the treatment of waste streams into high value chemicals. A strategic research theme is focusing on the reuse of carbon as an alternative feedstock for the production of materials.

More information available on

Up to now, VITO has developed strong expertise in the valorization of biomass through conversion of lignocellulose into value-added lignin fragments and bio-aromatic derivatives. These new lignin-derived building blocks are consequently evaluated for their application potential as polymer building blocks or functional additives. However, it turned out that the obtained lignin fractions are not always meeting the required specifications towards the targeted application and that additional chemical modification of the lignin derivatives is required.
We are looking for a candidate interested in starting a 1 year postdoctoral fellowship, with possible extension to 3 years, to work within our bioaromatics team with a focus on the development of a chemical modification strategy for depolymerized lignin, delivering defined C/O ratio of the molecules.

Closing date for applications: 15/06/2022
Starting date: flexible, ideally at 1/6/2022 – latest at 1/09/2022


Project Description:

This research project will involve aspects of chemical modification of various lignin fractions including monomers to lignin oils, tailoring of the lignin fractions to specific C/O ratio and evaluation of the toxicity of the resulting compounds.

The following tasks/actions are foreseen in our project to be conducted by the candidate, focusing on the development of a platform technology for chemical modification of various lignin fractions towards the required specifications (both via modelling and experimental work):

  • Active literature survey, keeping up to date with relevant articles and patents in the fields
  • Detailing out the work protocol after discussion with the experts involved
  • Execution of the work in laboratory
  • Data interpretation and plan for next possible steps: in discussion with experts
  • Execution of the experiments/tasks in a timely and efficient manner according to the overall project planning
  • Preparing presentations for the meetings/reports.
  • Scientific output and/or patent submission as a result of the work would be highly recommended
  • Ensure compliance with VITO’s Health & Safety Policy, and take a proactive approach to ensure all experimental work is safe

Required education/discipline/profile of candidates:

  • PhD in Chemistry
  • Background in organic and/or organometallic chemistry; preferentially with knowledge of homogenous and heterogenous catalysis
  • Knowledge on working with lignin and lignin oils is an asset.
  • You have a result-driven character capable of translating theory to practice and vice versa and are able to find solutions.
  • You are proactive, motivated, independent and an excellent team player who enjoys working in a multidisciplinary environment
  • You are interested to acquire hands-on experience by running innovative experimental set-ups, using DOE.
  • You are fluent in English and eager to write scientific papers and/or patents

Contact persons for more information:

Fady Nahra (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

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