PhD on Transport Phenomena in Environmental Technology

Research / Academic
We are looking for a PhD candidate who will develop three phase computational fluid dynamics (CFD) models for granular sludge-based bioreactors and validate these models experimentally.

Anaerobic granular sludge is a well-established biotechnology for treatment of industrial wastewaters during which organic contaminants are converted into biogas. The core of the technology is formation of microbial spherically shaped biofilms (sludge granules) with excellent settling properties. Numerous full-scale installations have been constructed worldwide in the past 40 years. And currently such technologies experience a new boost because of their contribution to the circular economy demanding for reuse of organics in liquid and suspended domestic and industrial waste streams.

However, despite the wide application of granular sludge, the hydraulic behavior of these systems is still poorly understood and often ignored, with still many problems in practice and scientific understanding in sludge and reactor stability and unwanted mass transfer limitations in the anaerobic bioconversion processes. The consequence of this is that the operators at full-scale are unable to predict, what organic loading and recirculation rates would be optimal for maintaining the structural integrity of the sludge granules whilst ensuring good mixing without mass transfer limitations in the reactors. In scientific research, investigators still cannot adequately predict/report how flow profiles in their experimental set-ups have affected their findings on sludge granulation, nor can they compare and translate the shear rates experienced by the granules in the lab-scale to full-scale and how this affects the granulation and conversion processes at various scales. Furthermore, the lack of a sound and first principle based scientific reporting on reactor's hydraulic behavior complicates the comparison of scientific findings between different research groups and laboratories and have kept too many studies on an empirical phenomenological level. With the foreseen further expansion of anaerobic sludge technology in the context of the circular economy, the ministry of education provided a grant in the so called Sector Plan Civil Engineering, to build more fundamental understanding in this field by combining experimental and theoretical approaches. Within this program we are searching for PhD candidate that can give a major contribution to the knowledge development in this field.


  • You are highly motivated and curious. "How?" and "Why?" are two questions keeping your mind busy often-times;
  • you want research results to translate to practical applications, thereby making a societal impact;
  • MSc in chemical engineering (or similar);
  • you have a strong background and experience with CFD simulations and affinity (or experience) towards experimental fluid dynamics.
  • hands on experience with bio-processes/bioreactors is not a must, but will be considered as an advantage;
  • you are creative and not afraid to explore unknown concepts or experimental techniques. Taking initiative to implement your creative thoughts in practice does not pose a problem for you. Persistence is one of your strong points;
  • good written and oral communication skills in English (a minimum score of 90 for TOEFL, or 6.5 for IELTS, or you have obtained your MSc with English as the language of instruction).

Salary Benefits:

We offer you a temporary position for a period of 1.5 years with extension of 2.5 years after successful evaluation. Gross salary per month € 2395,-. in the first year rising up to € 3061,-. per month in the fourth year for a full working week of 38 hours in accordance with the Collective Labor Agreement for the Wageningen University.

In addition, we offer:
  • 8% holiday allowance;
  • a structural year-end bonus of 8.3%;
  • excellent training opportunities and secondary employment conditions;
  • flexible working hours and holidays can possibly be determined in consultation so that an optimal balance between work and private life is possible;
  • excellent pension plan through ABP;
  • 232 vacation hours, the option to purchase extra and good supplementary leave schemes;
  • a flexible working time: the possibility to work a maximum of 2 hours per week extra and thereby to build up extra leave;
  • a choice model to put together part of your employment conditions yourself, such as a bicycle plan;
  • a lively workplace where you can easily make contacts and where many activities take place on the Wageningen Campus. A place where education, research and business are represented;
  • use the sports facilities on campus.
Wageningen University & Research stimulates internal career opportunities and mobility with an internal recruitment policy. There are ample opportunities for own initiative in a learning environment.

We offer a versatile job in an international environment with varied activities in a pleasant and open working atmosphere.
Work Hours:

38 hours per week