Internship | Production of Bio-Based Aromatic molecules


Bergen op Zoom

Education type

higher professional education (hbo)


Internship and graduation project

Hours a week

Fulltime – 40


Apply now


What will you be doing?

The Biorizon program is a shared research initiative located at the Green Chemistry Campus in Bergen op Zoom. The program mission is to enable commercial production of renewable bio-aromatics from 2nd generation residue streams by 2025. Why? Aromatic molecules are key components of a plethora of products bring properties such as dimensional stability, hardness, conductivity, and chemical stability, amongst others, in plastics, coatings, textiles and many other applications. The added value of these molecules means that they constitute more than 40% of the chemicals market, with a growing consumption worldwide. Furthermore, security of feedstock supply is a forefront issue, more traditionally this have been due to the shale gas developments and oil price fluctuations, caused by many different factors. This issue has been acutely exposed by the recent COVID-19 situation which highlighted the effects of transport restrictions on feedstocks. Using locally produced, non-food competitive residues as feedstocks would help to reduce these dependencies. Finally, there is a growing demand for sustainability from consumers and brand owners alike, expressed in the use of renewable feedstocks and the reduction of CO2-footprint. As such, there is an increasing need for renewable, CO2-neutral, non-fossil-based source of aromatics. To this end, TNO have developed Diels-Alder based platform technologies to efficiently convert hemi-celluloses to range of interesting bio-aromatics and bio-pseudo-aromatic products. 

A key aspect of achieving commercial production of renewable bio-aromatics by 2025 is the transfer of lab scale batch processes to industrially relevant scaleable continuous processes which will be required to produce of the thousands to millions of tons that are required by chemical industry at prices which can be cost-competitive with fossil-based feedstocks. 

Within this project, you will investigate the aromatization of bio-based Diels-Alder adducts with the goal of achieving highly selective production of the corresponding bio-aromatic. This will involve the screening of catalysts and conditions to determine which options are most promising, as well as testing the scope of the developed conditions with structurally related Diels-Alder adducts (where relevant). When suitable conditions have been identified, you will transfer this process to a bench-scale (100-5000 ml/hour) continuous set-up to further validate the process, more accurately test the various reaction parameters, and probe the chemical space. Where necessary, you will apply theoretical modeling approaches followed by experimental validation. A key aspect of the developments will be interpretation of results. To do this, you will make use of various analytical techniques, such as NMR, GC(MS), HPLC(MS), etc., to quantify conversions, identify intermediates and by-products, and better understand the conversion(s) taking place. Throughout the work, you will work together with experienced TNO chemists and engineers to propose solutions to further improve the process(es). 

What do we require of you?

We expect that you will:
  • be driven to contribute to the realization of a greener chemical industry.
  • be enthusiastic and eager to learn about organic chemistry.
  • have an affinity for basic engineering (e.g. simple repairs of machinery).

What can you expect of your work situation?

TNO is an independent research organisation whose expertise and research make an important contribution to the competitiveness of companies and organisations, to the economy and to the quality of society as a whole. Innovation with purpose is what TNO stands for. With 3000 people we develop knowledge not for its own sake but for practical application. To create new products that make life more pleasant and valuable and help companies innovate. To find creative answers to the questions posed by society. We work for a variety of customers: governments, companies, service providers and non-governmental organisations. Working together on new knowledge, better products and clear recommendations for policy and processes. In everything we do, impact is the key. Our product and process innovations and recommendations are only worth something if our customers can use them to boost their competitiveness.

What can TNO offer you?

You want to work on the precursor of your career; an internship 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 internship and be given the scope for you to get the best out of yourself. Naturally, we provide suitable internship compensation.

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: Marc Crockatt
Phone number: +31 (0)6-46847402

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


Apply now



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