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Biochemist, Chemist as PhD student - Iron and phosphorus interactions in sewage sludge for phosphorus recovery (m/f)

 Wetsus  Leeuwarden
PhD student position Understanding and manipulating iron and phosphorus interactions in sewage sludge for phosphorus recovery
Phosphorus is an essential nutrient and a key component in fertilizers. On the other hand uncontrolled phosphorus discharges via sewage lead to eutrophication of surface water and therefore phosphorus must be removed in sewage treatment plants. Recovery rather than removal would help to create a circular economy and prevent the depletion of finite phosphate resources. Iron salts are commonly used to remove phosphorus from sewage and may also play an important role in the current trend to design net energy producing sewage treatment plants. Recovery of phosphorus from iron containing sludge is however still not possible and a better understanding of the iron and phosphorus interaction in sewage treatment is required to propose better recovery options.
Research challenge
Our research in line with other researchers has shown that the ferrous iron phosphate mineral vivianite, (Fe2+)3(PO43-)2 x 8H2O is a major FeP mineral in sewage sludge before and after anaerobic digestion. In this project we want to build on this previous research to further understand the formation and growth of this mineral so that we can manipulate the processes in sewage treatment in such a way that we can stimulate phosphorus recovery. A thorough understanding of the versatile iron (redox) chemistry as well as crystal growth processes will help to identify and test possible mechanisms for recovery of phosphorus from ironphosphate components in sewage sludge. 
We are looking for a candidate with an MSc degree in the field of (bio)chemistry or related disciplines with excellent experimental skills. Knowledge of sewage treatment processes is useful.

Our offer
Doing a PhD in the Netherlands takes 4 year.
You earn a salary to make a living.
In year 1 the salary is €30.674,  in year 4 €39.214 before tax.
The amount of paid holiday days is 35/year

The research project is part of the Wetsus research theme Phosphate Recovery.
The following companies are part of the theme: ICL fertilizers, Kemira, STOWA, water authority Brabantse Delta, Oosterhof Holman.
Promotor: M.C.M. van Loosdrecht, TU Delft, Environmental Biotechnology Group.
Promotor:  Prof.dr. G.J. Witkamp, TU Delft, Environmental Biotechnology Group.
Wetsus supervisor: Leon Korving
For more information contact Leon Korving:

How to apply:
Outstanding and highly motivated candidates are asked to provide the following information:
  • Motivation letter
  • CV specifying:
    - Doctoral study entrance qualification (name master degree)
    - List of internships (subject, name supervisor, grade, etc)
    - Publications (if applicable)
    - Scientific interest, complementary qualifications, achievements
    - Other relevant information
  • Grades (with explanation on the grading system)
  • Copy of master diploma or letter of university that master diploma will be obtained soon
  • At least one letter of recommendation and contact information of the referee(s)
Applicants are asked to rank their preference for a research project. A maximum of 3 preferences can be given.
The recruitment will proceed based on your first preference. The other two will provide us with information about your interests.

Please combine all documents in one single attachment.

Go to and use the apply button to send your application. It is important to only use this apply button. All other applications will not be processed. You can find the apply button at the bottom of every project published!

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For more information contact Leon Korving:
While applying for the job please refer to jobvector and use the following reference number: 4.3

About Wetsus

Wetsus, European centre of excellence for sustainable water technology, is a network university. In Wetsus 22 universities from all over Europe cooperate on a research program which is defined by 105 partners from industry. Wetsus creates a unique environment and strategic cooperation for development of profitable and sustainable state of the art water treatment technology. The inspiring and...

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