Pre-doctoral position: High Rate Capacitive Deionization

March 31 2017
Position Type
Full Time
Organization Type

VITO is a leading European independent research and technology organisation in the areas of cleantech and sustainable development, elaborating solutions for the large societal challenges of today.

A team of approximately 700 enthusiastic employees works on innovative research programmes within our 5 themes Energy, Chemistry, Materials, Landuse and Health. By doing this, they are contributing to the achievement of sustainable technological solutions in projects for clients (industry and governments).

If you would like to join and strengthen our VITO team as a researcher please consult our PhD/ Postdoc position currently available.

Capacitive deionization (CDI) is a strongly emerging deionization technology which uses capacitive porous electrodes to store ions inside the electrical double layer at the system's interface between electrode matrix and the aqueous solution. It has several unique advantages compared to established desalination technologies: low pressure, room temperature and low voltage operation, high energy efficiency at low to moderate salinity and ability to simultaneously store energy and desalinate. A remarkable number of innovations are continuously being discovered in the field of CDI. Whereas the original research drive was towards high salt sorption capacity systems, the cutting edge of CDI research is shifting towards systems that also attain high salt removal rates. At VITO, we are pursuing robust high rate CDI systems, by applying new and developing insights in the non-linear dynamics of electromigration- and diffusion-limited ion transport in desalination devices which are operating far from equilibrium, as well as into electrode ageing phenomena that can dramatically affect desalination rates. This includes three major innovation pathways: materials, architecture and process control innovation.


This 4-year PhD project covers the development of suitable porous electrodes and spacer materials and/or their integration into a novel CDI architecture, the implementation and optimization of a new CDI reactor design, and the development and implementation of voltage and current control algorithms to operate the system at over-limiting conditions . You will be collaborating with a fellow PhD researcher who is responsible for theoretical support through a.o. numerical modelling.  

The goal of the project is to set a new standard for the deionization rate of CDI in a durable and cost-efficient system and, wherever possible, to exploit the fundamental understandings of salt transport processes for achieving preferential ion removal from complex streams.


We look for enthusiast candidates with a strong background in chemical engineering or equivalent, with a particular interest and experience in transport phenomena, reactor design & construction and process control. An additional background in electrochemistry and/or material science can be useful. The focus of your work will be on experimental work, reactor construction and the implementation of process controllers (feedback structures). Previous experience with process control software (matlab/Simulink/labview?) is highly desirable.

This job comes from a partnership with Science Magazine and Euraxess