Internship | Bio-Twins Production (Benzene & Toluene)

Interested in working for the energy transition? Join TNO and help us develop technology for a sustainable future.



Education type

higher professional education (hbo)


Internship and graduation project

Hours a week

Fulltime – 40


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What will you be doing?

At TNO we have been working for the last decades in the field of biomass gasification. One of the latest developments is the AREA (Aromatics REcovery Apparatus) which is able to directly collect BTX (benzene, toluene, xylenes) present in the product gas obtained from biomass gasification. It has been shown that BTX can be removed with 99% efficiency, but the final liquid product does not meet market specifications. Benzene could be the final product target since it is the most important component present in the bio-BTX (> 75 wt% from wood gasification). Preliminary work has shown that benzene fractions with purities above 99% could be separated through distillation from the BTX. Though the high purity does meet market specifications there are certain contaminants that make it unsuitable for the industry. To tackle this issue there are some options available: tune the distillation process; condition the product gas prior to the BTX collection; apply a post treatment to the bio-benzene fraction separated. As an add up, toluene, the second most important component in the BTX sample (≈ 10 wt%) can also be separated during the distillation and become a final product as well.

Hereby this project will focus on the following:
  • Task 1: Perform distillation of BTX into benzene and toluene fractions that meet market requirements. Parameters such as heating rate, boiling temperature and reflux ratio will be assessed. Aspen modelling prior to the experimental work required
  • Task 2: Assess treatments (pre- and post-) that can be used to produce final products that meet market specifications.
  • Task 3: Continue assessment and development of applications already under investigation and identify and explore other (preferably high-end) market applications.

What do we require of you?

You are a student with a background chemistry or chemical engineering with the following characteristics:
  • Enthusiasm about research and technology development.
  • Interest in chemistry and practical work in the laboratory.
  • Motivation to run your project autonomously.
  • Knowledge of Aspen Plus.
  • Good command of the English language
  • Availability to work full-time (40 hours a week) during 6 months

What can you expect of your work situation?

The BCT department has an excellent track record in process technology development. Unique modelling and experimental tools have been developed over the years, including demonstration installations that can be found all over the world. We offer a challenging and international working environment in a field that is of eminent importance for our future needs. In your work you will be integral part of a project team and it will include interaction with TNO employees and fellow students, developing both your technical and personal skills. You will be working on an industrial application case, being supervised and coached by experienced TNO staff.

What can TNO offer you?

You want to work on the precursor of your career; a work placement gives you an opportunity to take a good look at your prospective future employer. TNO goes a step further. It’s not just looking that interests us; you and your knowledge are essential to our innovation. That’s why we attach a great deal of value to your personal and professional development. You will, of course, be properly supervised during your work placement and be given the scope for you to get the best out of yourself. Naturally, we provide suitable work placement compensation.

Application process

Due to Covid-19 and the consequent uncertainties and restrictions, students who are not residing in the Netherlands may currently not be able to start an internship or graduation project at TNO.

Has this vacancy sparked your interest?

Then please feel free to apply on this vacancy! For further questions don’t hesitate to contact us.

Due to Covid-19 and the consequent uncertainties and restrictions, students who are not residing in the Netherlands may currently not be able to start an internship or graduation project at TNO.

Contact: Carlos Mourao Vilela
Phone number: +31 (0)88-86 63055

Note that applications via email and third party applications are not taken into consideration.


Apply now



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