Make the high-tech future (e-vehicles, LEDs) a sustainable future

The research group “sustainability assessments of materials and circular economy” (SAM) brings together researchers who are motivated to strengthen Circular Economy strategies by well-founded scientific insights. We develop and perform assessments of the environmental, economic and social hurdles and opportunities of circular technologies. We do this from a systemic perspective, and apply our integrated methods to engineer material life cycles and optimize the effectiveness of circular economy strategies in general, including e.g. the introduction of renewable feedstock in the chemical industry. Currently, we are looking for a new colleague (level master or PhD) with knowledge of sustainability assessments (LCA, LCC) and critical metals for assessing novel recycling routes and product designs for electromotors and LED lamps.
You will be responsible for the KU Leuven input into several European projects. One project is studying recycling schemes and optimizing various fragmentation and separation technologies for the waste treatment of LED lamps. Our research group is performing the (e)LCC of these technologies. Another project aims to develop alternatives to NdFeB magnets for e-mobility based on Cerium alloys and the needed redesign of electrical machine with Ce-based magnets. Our research group is studying the environmental and economic effects of this substitution and the impact on the criticality of rare earth metals. Both projects are funded by EIT RawMaterials, the world’s largest innovation community in the raw materials sector. You will also be involved in future projects on recycling processes, and in developing new projects and new education content based on your research experience.
  • You have a Master of Science in Engineering (Engineering Science, Engineering Technology or Bioscience engineering). The position is open for postdocs in this field as well.
  • Expertise in one or more of the following areas is an asset: LCA, environmental LCC, sustainability assessments, recycling technologies.
  • You have a scientific, critical attitude and you are interested in interdisciplinary research.
  • You can demonstrate your interest in sustainability issues.
  • You have good communication and presentation skills, proficient in English (Dutch is an asset, but not a requirement).
  • You have an independent working style, and at the same time also a good team player.
We offer a research position for one year in a very attractive international research environment, with an excellent track record in sustainable materials management and environmental economics. This research could lead to a PhD position within this field.
The position is promoted by Prof. Karel Van Acker (Faculty of Engineering Science, Department Materials Engineering and Faculty of Economics and Business, Centre for Economics and Corporate Sustainability). The research group “Sustainability Assessments of Materials and Circular Economy” (SAM) currently consists of 6 PhDs and 4 postdocs. Ongoing projects include a.o. assessment of cascading of wood, the development of new bio-based composite materials, new catalysts, the valorisation of industrial residues and enhanced landfill mining, and the development of new indicators for the circular economy. Typically, tools such as (C)LCA, LCSA, MFA, exergy analysis, CBA, partial equilibrium modelling, etc. are used and refined. We host the policy research centre “Circular Economy” for the Flemish Government and make part of the interdisciplinary KU Leuven Institute for Sustainable Metals and Minerals (SIM²).
This position will be funded by a granted EIT RawMaterial projects.
For more information please contact Prof. dr. Karel Van Acker, tel.: +32 16 32 12 71, mail:
You can apply for this job no later than March 11, 2020 via the online application tool

SIM² Education