Type dienstverband:
Internship and graduation project
Uren per week:
Fulltime – 40

Internship | Production of Bio-Based Molecules

About this position

The Biorizon program is a shared research initiative located at the Green Chemistry Campus in Bergen op Zoom. The program’s mission is to enable the commercial production of renewable bio-aromatics from 2nd generation residue streams by 2025. Why? Aromatic molecules are key components of a plethora of products that 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, the security of feedstock supply is a forefront issue, more traditionally this has 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 has developed Diels-Alder-based platform technologies to efficiently convert hemicelluloses to a 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 the thousands to millions of tons that are required by the chemical industry at prices that can be cost-competitive with fossil-based feedstocks.

What will be your role?

Within this project, you will investigate the conversion of furfural and furfural-derived building blocks into higher-value, commercially attractive products. The work will involve screening catalysts and conditions to determine which options are most promising, as well as testing the scope of the reaction (where relevant). If promising conditions can be identified, you will transfer this process to a bench-scale (0.1-5 L/h) continuous set-up to further validate the process, more accurately test the various parameters, and probe the chemical space. Where necessary, you will apply theoretical modelling approaches followed by experimental validation. A key aspect of the developments will be the 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 we expect from 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).
  • have an understanding of commonly used analytical techniques and interpretation of their outputs.
  • be interested in optimizing reactions for yield and selectivity.
  • be able to have a structured approach to your work, and show a great deal of autonomy in your work.
  • be acutely aware of safety considerations with regard to working with chemicals and reactors.
  • have a flexible approach to working days/hours.
  • be comfortable communicating in English.

What you'll get in return

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.

TNO as an employer

At TNO, we innovate for a healthier, safer and more sustainable life. And for a strong economy. Since 1932, we have been making knowledge and technology available for the common good. We find each other in wonder and ingenuity. We are driven to push boundaries. There is all the space and support for your talent and ambition. You work with people who will challenge you: who inspire you and want to learn from you. Our state-of-the-art facilities are there to realize your vision. What you do at TNO matters: impact makes the difference. Because with every innovation you contribute to tomorrow’s world. Read more about TNO as an employer.

At TNO we encourage an inclusive work environment, where you can be yourself. Whatever your story and whatever unique qualities you bring to the table. It is by combining our unique strengths and perspectives that we are able to develop innovations that make a real difference in society. Want to know more? Read what steps we are taking in the area of diversity and inclusion.

The selection process

After the first CV selection, the application process will be conducted by the concerning department. TNO will provide a suitable internship agreement. If you have any questions about this vacancy, you can contact the contact person mentioned below.

Has this job opening sparked your interest?

Then we’d like to hear from you! Please contact us for more information about the job or the selection process. To apply, please upload your CV and covering letter using the ‘apply now’ button.