Application Deadline : 15 April 2012
Most products ending up in waste are industrial products containing additives (e.g. stabilizers, flame-retardants, plasticizers and pigments) or residues of substances used during manufacturing. These additives yield constant and stable quality of the products at low costs and usually cannot easily be removed. Such substances may persist or even accumulate during waste treatment or recycling processes, and may potentially constitute a health or environmental problem when the treated waste materials are utilized or recycled. An ongoing EU-project is currently addressing the issue conceptually, but the project has already revealed that existing data are few.
Society prioritizes recycling because this is considered to save resources. But recycling may also lead to spreading of contaminants (via the recycled materials) as well as indirectly cause emissions to the environment e.g. if part of the waste stream is used on land. Society may therefore also need sinks for unwanted substances that could constitute a problem if accumulated in recycled products. But better knowledge of which substances may be problematic must be established so that the balance between recycling and destruction can be assessed scientifically. Alternatively, such information – where a risk is identified – could justify the legal abandoning of such substances that may compromise recycling.
Alternative to recycling, the materials can be treated for energy recovery or destruction. For most organic compounds this will be an efficient control, while this for inorganic elements may lead to accumulation in ashes or side streams and then constitute a secondary but potentially controllable issue. For such inorganic contaminants the content in the non-recyclable stream of the waste should also be quantified in order to address the problem in its full perspective.
The overall objective of the PhD project is to develop a scientifically based approach to assessing the limitations for recycling based on the presence of contaminants in the waste and to provide a quantitative assessment of the issue on selected waste streams based on analysis of actual waste materials. The work is expected to include:
Review of existing literature on the topic as well as material collected in the EU project overview
Analysis of suspected contaminants in selected streams of potentially recyclable materials
Assess risks associated with the selected streams of recyclable materials
Assess acceptable levels of recycling based on current levels of contaminants and un-wanted substances, and suggest appropriate criteria for decisions regarding selection of material recycling options
Identify potentially critical additives in recyclable materials which limit the recyclability.
The work is expected to lead to a conceptual understanding of the risks of contaminants in recyclables and to a quantitative assessment of selected issues on an important waste streams. The results will be published in 3-4 papers in international scientific journals, and 2-3 contributions at international conferences. The thesis is expected to consist of a description the main achievements and the manuscripts prepared for the international journals.
Candidates should have a Master’s degree in engineering or a similar degree with an academic level equivalent to the Master’s degree in engineering. The applicant should have qualifications within the following areas:
Knowledge about waste management
Background in chemistry and environmental chemistry
Knowledge about environmental risks
Knowledge about sampling and analysis.
The applicant must have analytical skills, research potential, be well-organized and enterprising and possess good interpersonal skills needed to collaborate with the involved university departments and private companies. The applicant must master English and preferably also Danish.
We believe that we offer an exciting and challenging job in an international environment with a good team spirit and good possibilities for professional and personal growth. We are a family-friendly organisation with flexible working hours.
Approval and Enrolment
The scholarships for the PhD degree are subject to academic approval, and the candidates will be enrolled in one of the general degree programmes of DTU. For information about the general requirements for enrolment and the general planning of the scholarship studies, please see theDTU PhD Guide.
Salary and appointment terms
The salary and appointment terms are consistent with the current rules for PhD degree students. The period of employment is 3 years.