PhD project: Recovery of phosphorous and removal of heavy metals from lake sediment by electrodialysis

Wednesday 24 Nov 21

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Apply no later than 31 January 2022
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DTU Civil Engineering is inviting applications for a 3-year PhD position starting March 2022. The overall aim of the project is to develop an electrodialytic method for simultaneous recovery of phosphorous and separation of heavy metals from contaminated lake sediments.

The EU currently imports over 90% of its P fertilizers, most of which is intended for the agricultural production, from where a fraction is lost and pollutes the environment. A large part of the lost P ends up in lake sediments causing eutrophication. To date, combating the harmful effects of excess P in lakes is purely linear, e.g. by immobilizing P in the sediment. However, by this, the pollution problem is not solved, and the P resources are permanently lost. To enable the recovery and recycling of P from sediments, new technology and techniques are required, whereby P can be recovered from the sediments and heavy metals can be removed to enable recycling of the sediment to land.

Responsibilities and qualifications
The PhD project is part of a large project, RePair. The goal of RePair is to promote a paradigm shift in lake management by restoring freshwater bodies by transforming lake sediment and P polluted lake water into a valuable resource and simultaneously combat any harmful effects on the environment. This will be achieved through a unique constellation of interdisciplinary research between four Danish universities and relevant stakeholders from industry, agriculture, and lake managers.

The PhD project will focus on resource recovery from heavy metal contaminated lake sediments. The research is experimentally based. It includes development, test and optimization of an electrodialytic method for removal of heavy metals simultaneously to recover the extracted P. Through work with sediments from different lakes and with different characteristics, a generally applicable electrodialytic method is developed.

The candidate should have a master's degree in environmental, chemical or civil engineering or a similar degree with an academic level equivalent to the master's degree. Further, the candidate should have deep knowledge on heavy metal adsorption/desorption from soils, sediments or sludges, or on recovery of phosphorous in these matrices and the dynamics of eutrophication. In addition, the candidate must be experienced in planning and conducting laboratory experimental work. Knowledge within techniques for characterizing particulate materials as well as electrochemical processes is an advantage. A good command of the English language, both spoken and written, is essential. The candidate is expected to be self-motivated and to publish the project results in international peer-reviewed journals.

Approval and Enrolment
The scholarship for the PhD degree is subject to academic approval, and the candidate will be enrolled in one of the general degree programmes at DTU. For information about our enrolment requirements and the general planning of the PhD study programme, please see the DTU's rules for the PhD education.

The assessment of the applicants will be made by Professor Lisbeth M. Ottosen and associate professor Pernille E. Jensen, Section for Materials and Durability.

We offer
DTU is a leading technical university globally recognized for the excellence of its research, education, innovation and scientific advice. We offer a rewarding and challenging job in an international environment. We strive for academic excellence in an environment characterized by collegial respect and academic freedom tempered by responsibility.

Salary and appointment terms
The appointment will be based on the collective agreement with the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations. The allowance will be agreed upon with the relevant union. The period of employment is 3 years.

You can read more about career paths at DTU here.

Further information
Further information may be obtained from Professor Lisbeth M. Ottosen,

If you are applying from abroad, you may find useful information on working in Denmark and at DTU at DTU – Moving to Denmark.

Please submit your online application no later than 31 January 2022 (Danish time).

Applications must be submitted as one PDF file containing all materials to be given consideration. To apply, please open the link "Apply online", fill out the online application form, and attach all your materials in English in one PDF file. The file must include:

  • A letter motivating the application (cover letter)
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Grade transcripts and BSc/MSc diploma including official description of grading scale

Candidates may apply prior to obtaining their master's degree, but cannot begin before having received it.

All interested candidates irrespective of age, gender, race, disability, religion or ethnic background are encouraged to apply.
DTU Civil Engineering develops and utilizes science and technical knowledge for the benefit of society through a sustainable development of construction and the built environment. As part of a strong university, the department provides research, study programmes, innovation and research-based consultancy of the highest quality in civil engineering. The Department develops new knowledge and solutions for the challenges facing the construction industry based on classic disciplines of building research, as well as the monitoring and decoding of physical phenomena,—we combine theory and practice.
DTU Civil Engineering has a special role in researching, educating and developing new construction engineering solutions for Arctic settings, for the benefit of society in both Denmark and Greenland. The department has a scientific staff of about 80 persons, 60 PhD students, and a technical/administrative support staff of about 50 persons.

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DTU develops technology for people. With our international elite research and study programmes, we are helping to create a better world and to solve the global challenges formulated in the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Hans Christian Ørsted founded DTU in 1829 with a clear vision to develop and create value using science and engineering to benefit society. That vision lives on today. DTU has 12,900 students and 6,000 employees. We work in an international atmosphere and have an inclusive, evolving, and informal working environment. DTU has campuses in all parts of Denmark and in Greenland, and we collaborate with the best universities around the world.