Postdoc (scholarship) in Bark biorefinery as a resource for novel materials

Postdoc (scholarship) in Bark biorefinery as a resource for novel materials

KTH Royal Institute of Technology, CBH

Stockholm, Sweden

KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm has grown to become one of Europe’s leading technical and engineering universities, as well as a key centre of intellectual talent and innovation. We are Sweden’s largest technical research and learning institution and home to students, researchers and faculty from around the world. Our research and education covers a wide area including natural sciences and all branches of engineering, as well as architecture, industrial management, urban planning, history and philosophy.

The workplace
Wallenberg Wood Science Center (WWSC) is a research center which started in 2009 and is funded by the Knut and Alice Wallenberg foundation. WWSC is a multidisciplinary collaboration between Chalmers, KTH and Linköping University striving for scientific excellence, and the overall aim is to develop new materials from trees. The mission of the center is to create knowledge and competence as a basis for eco-friendly materials for the future.
For more information: http://wwsc.se (KTH Campus) and https://www.kth.se/fpt/woodchem/division-of-wood-chemistry-and-pulp-technology-1.18841

Project description
Bark is one of the largest byproducts of the Scandinavian forest industries. For example, the bark for the common Norway spruce (Picea abies) alone amounts to about 1.5 million tons/year in Sweden. This abundant biomass is commonly used as a fuel to produce heat and electrical energy in the mill, but in recent decades, there has been a growing interest in converting industrial bark into added value products in an approach called “the bark biorefinery”. Previous research projects considering the bark biorefinery has focused on novel processes for fractionation of bark components. The target has primarily been to extract bark polysaccharides and extractives, such as suberin based epoxy fatty acids, and evaluate their properties in packaging applications. Noncellulosic polysaccharides (NCP), such as pectins, from industrial bark can be fractionated by accelerated solvent extraction (ASE) with water. The residue of the hot water extraction can be used to recover bark cellulose fibers and isolate cellulose nanocrystals (CNCs). Bark CNCs have a high aspect ratio, high crystallinity and good thermal stability, which mean that they have a great potential for use as reinforcement agents in the manufacture of nanocomposites at a reasonable low raw material cost. A potential application for bark compounds is as raw materials in renewable nanocomposites. In previous projects NCP and CNC sequentially isolated from the inner bark was used to construct renewable nanocomposites with good mechanical and thermal properties, as well as a high oxygen barrier performance. In summary, bark, now being combusted for energy, can provide components suitable for upgrading to higher value products, for example composites, resins and plastics, before being combusted in the end of their life-cycle

Project purpose
Evaluate bark components in novel renewable material based applications.

Qualifications
The applicant must have completed a doctoral degree in chemistry or chemical engineering with a focus on forest products, fiber and polymer science, organic/analytic chemistry. The doctoral degree must be completed no more than five years before the last application date. Applicants should have a documented experience in some of the following areas: separation, modification and characterization of biopolymers, characterization by microscopy, spectroscopy, development of bio-based products.

The successful candidate needs to have an excellent academic record of accomplishment, well-developed analytical skills, as well as problem solving skills. We are looking for a highly motivated candidate who can contribute with his or her own ideas and can work independently. Good knowledge of English in speech and writing is necessary to publish and present research results in international conferences and journals. Knowledge in Swedish is an advantage.

Application
Apply to this scholarship by e-mail to scholarship@che.kth.se. You are the main responsible to ensure that your application is complete according to the ad. Your complete application must be received at KTH no later than 2019-04-08. Mark your application with reference number C-2019-0539.

The application must include the following documents:
• Curriculum vitae
• Cover letter (detailing both your previous scientific work experience and your interest in this position)
• Research statement (max 2 pages)
• Contact information for three references

Please observe that you apply for a scholarship, not an employment.

About the position
Period: 1 year (with possibility to extend to 2 years)
Extent: Full-time
Amount of scholarship: According to agreement
Location: Stockholm

Contact
Monica Ek, Professor
KTH Royal Institute of Technology
School of Engineering Sciences in Chemistry, Biotechnology and Health
E-mail: monicaek@kth.se

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Position

Postdoc (scholarship) in Bark biorefinery as a resource for novel materials