1. Theme: Bio-energy
Title PhD project: Bio-electrochemical systems for metal recovery
Global primary metal resources are rapidly dwindling and the mining and metallurgical industries are increasingly turning to lower grade minerals for metal extraction, typically increasing costs. Innovative environmental metal extraction techniques are required to increase mining sustainability, increase revenues and lower its impact on the environment. In this project, bio-electrochemical technology is proposed as an entirely new method for metal processing with the aim to produce marketable metal-containing (intermediate) products with low environmental impact compared to state-of-the-art technologies.
In bio-electrochemical technology, micro-organisms catalyze the reaction occurring on one or both electrodes of an electrolytic cell. Such cells are called Microbial Fuel Cells (MFCs) when power is produced and Microbial Electrolysis Cells (MECs) when power is required to drive the desired reaction. Recently, it has been shown that Cu2+ is reduced to metallic Cu on the cathode of a MFC coupled to the biological oxidation of organic matter and with resulting electricity generation. The proof-of-principle MFC almost completely recovered the Cu2+ in its metallic form Cu (decrease in concentration from 1 g/l to less than 1 mg/l) and produced a maximum power density of 0.8W/m2.
Bio-electrochemical technology can be used for the base metals like copper Cu, nickel Ni, zinc Zn, cobalt Co and lead Pb, which are mined, processed and used in large quantities. These metals are ubiquitous in process and waste streams from the mining and metallurgical industry and therefore application of bio-electrochemistry for these metals has a high impact.
Compared to traditional techniques, the use of bio-electrochemical technology allows high recovery efficiencies, increased metal selectivity and reduced use of energy with in some cases (e.g. reduction of Cu2+ to Cu) electricity production.
Master Degree in Environmental Sciences or Chemistry or Process Technology.
Affinity with bio-electrochemistry and metallurgy is recommended.
The topic is multi-disciplinary and contains bio-electrochemistry, membrane technology as well as metal plating that will be studied at laboratory scale and pilot scale. The candidate has good experimental skills as well as the ability to perform as part of a team. The project is part of a Seventh Framework Programme of the European Commission (Eco-Innovation Call).
Location: Wetsus – Leeuwarden, The Netherlands.
Promotor: Prof. Dr. Cees Buisman, University of Wageningen.
For further information you can contact Dr. Michel Saakes, Scientific Project Manager. emailaddress: email@example.com.
Are you one of the top 3 performers in your class? Are you enthusiastic about multidisciplinary research? And are you highly motivated?
If the answer to all three of these questions are "yes" and you have (or will have) a MSc degree in a related discipline described above you could be the ideal candidate for a PhD project in Wetsus.
Fluency in English is a requirement.
Interview and a scientific presentation will be part of the selection procedure.
You will be working in a new, innovative, dynamic and future-directed research institute. You will be able to put your stamp on the development of new water technology. You will work in close collaboration with our industrial partners and also with top research groups at various universities.
How to apply
Salary and working conditions are according to the collective labor agreement of the Cooperative Association of Dutch Universities (VSNU) for PhD students. PhD students are appointed by one of the cooperating universities but research is mainly conducted at Wetsus in Leeuwarden.
Interested candidates can send their motivation letter, CV (including references) and a list of courses and grades to Wetsus, attn. Recruitment Department, PO box 1113, 8900 CC Leeuwarden, The Netherlands. Email to firstname.lastname@example.org