PhD on Bitumen Properties and Rejuvenation

Research / Academic

This research aims at having a better insight into current changes and mapping the potential sources of change in the binder market in relation to binder property or quality and consistency. Another aspect is the on-going transitions in the refineries. As a result, there are inconsistencies in the crude source and physico-chemical properties of bitumen in the market. Next to variable sources of base bitumen, the use of liquid additives as bitumen modifiers has been increased in the past years. These additives can be from different chemical origins and physical properties (i.e. viscosity). For recycling applications, additives are used to replenish the aged bitumen properties and commonly known as ‘rejuvenators’. The use of rejuvenators has resulted in a new stream of complex bituminous binders, where the molecular composition and their mutual interaction are more complex than neat bitumen. The scope of this research includes an improved fundamental understanding of the influence of the crude oil source, rejuvenators and processing on bitumen performance and its impact on asphalt performance. It also aims to define additional performance indicators for binders that can better predict the functional properties of asphalt.

The PhD will be assessing the chemo-mechanical properties of the binders using the state of the art characterization techniques. Oxidation kinetics and potential for rejuvenation of bituminous binder with varying qualities will be investigated. Recycling potential and long term performance of these binders will be studied at the fundamental level. Furthermore, the knowledge available at the binder scale will be linked to the relevant functional properties of asphalt concrete.

The PhD candidate will specifically be involved in the following aspects:

  • Developing insights into the effect of bitumen properties and consistency variations and state of the art rejuvenation practices;
  • Evaluation of chemo-mechanical properties of the fresh and rejuvenated aged

    bitumen binders in relation to short and long term properties and its suitability for using in asphalt construction;
  • Evaluation of the susceptibility of variable sources of bitumen binder and

    rejuvenator to oxidation and physical hardening and how these influence the resistance to the raveling-damage mechanism;
  • The establishment of evaluation methods for bitumen rejuvenation, including

    rejuvenator characterization, rejuvenator efficiency and stability.

This position will be part of a larger research programme ‘Knowledge-based Pavement Engineering 2021-2024’, funded by Rijkswaterstaat, the executive agency of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management in the Netherlands. During the project, PhD candidate will interact with other researchers and experts at TNO, the Netherlands Organisation for applied scientific research, and Rijkswaterstaat.  


The preferable candidate has a Master of Science (M.Sc.) degree in Civil Engineering or Materials Science or Chemical Engineering or other related scientific domains.

The necessary requirements are:

  • Acquaintance with pavement materials and engineering.
  • Experience in multi-scale tests for identification of basic chemo-mechanical
    properties of material.
  • Knowledge and skills on molecular dynamics simulations
  • Affinity for working and studying in an international team
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills in English

Furthermore, the candidate shall be open to working in a team within an interactive and stimulating environment. Advanced problem-solving skills and a prominent interest in contributing to scientific research are essential elements to the position. Proactiveness, independence, and reliability in effectively and timely delivering tasks are fundamental prerequisites. Enthusiasm and passion for Pavement Engineering are very valuable factors.

Salary Benefits:

TU Delft offers PhD-candidates a 4-year contract, with an official go/no go progress assessment after one year. Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities, increasing from € 2395 per month in the first year to € 3061 in the fourth year. As a PhD candidate you will be enrolled in the TU Delft Graduate School. The TU Delft Graduate School provides an inspiring research environment with an excellent team of supervisors, academic staff and a mentor. The Doctoral Education Programme is aimed at developing your transferable, discipline-related and research skills.

The TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package, discounts on health insurance and sport memberships, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged. For international applicants we offer the Coming to Delft Service and Partner Career Advice to assist you with your relocation.

Work Hours:

38 - 40 hours per week


Mekelweg 2