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Postdoctoral Research Associate - Mechanical Engineer

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Date: Nov 6, 2020

Location: Oak Ridge, TN, US, 37831

Company: Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Requisition Id 1549 


We are seeking a Postdoctoral Research Associate whose primary focus will be process and equipment design and development for cellulose composites, composite recycling and process scale-up. Under general supervision, the incumbent will conduct experimental research around polymer-based cellulose, carbon fiber and glass fiber composites development including but not limited to process development for dewatering and drying nanocellulose-water suspension, cellulose fibril dispersion in polymer and composite development in addition to equipment design (e.g., drying system) and process scale-up (e.g., surface treatment). This position resides in the Advanced Composites Manufacturing Group in the Manufacturing Science Division (MSD), within the Energy Science and Technology Directorate (ESTD) at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL).  



Our research team carries out high quality R&D focused on the strategic composite material needs of the aerospace, automotive, and marine/shipbuilding industries as well as trending areas of international composite research in material science, mechanical and chemical engineering, and automation. While high quality scientific research is our priority, due to applied nature of our research scaling up is also crucial for our success. Of special interest for the position is the equipment design and development for the processing and dewatering/drying of nano- and micro-cellulose fibers minimizing the agglomeration and energy consumption and dispersing in polymer resins. Scaling up of other processes including but not limited to the surface treatment is also in the scope of the work. The successful candidate will lead and support research in system and process development and scale up of nano- and micro-cellulose fiber composites (with improved properties) production and composites recycling; conduct thermal-mechanical characterization and modification experiments of fiber reinforced polymers; publish original peer reviewed research articles; write invention disclosures and supervise students/interns.



  • Design and develop equipment and processes for energy efficient dewatering and drying of nano- and micro-cellulose fibers increasing composite performance preventing agglomeration of fibers during drying and promoting their dispersion in polymer matrix.
  • Design and develop systems for composite recycling, utilization of recycled fibers for new applications.
  • Draw layouts by utilizing computer-aided drafting software (e.g., CAD)
  • Self-check own work to ensure accuracy, dimension and tolerance convention, and comformance with established CAD specifications
  • Manufacture and assembly of the design of the drying system by controlling temperature, heating rate, flow rate, and pressure
  • Dry cellulose fibers to reduce the agglomeration and save the energy
  • Characterize the cellulose fiber based composites
  • Development and evaluation of composites for advanced bio-manufacturing
  • Assist in development of cellulose fiber treatment
  • Present and report research results and publish scientific results in peer-reviewed journals in a timely manner
  • Ensure compliance with environment, safety, health and quality program requirements
  • Maintain strong dedication to the implementation and perpetuation of values and ethics



  • A PhD in Mechanical and Chemical Engineering, Materials Science and Engineering, Polymer Science and Engineering or a related discipline completed within the last five years. Experience with equipment design and assembly.



  • Experience with drawings including concept and layout, functional assembly, and details to allow the manufacturing and assembly of the design
  • Familiarity and experience with the drying system
  • Ability to understand and adhere to standard engineering practices
  • Ability to support engineers with drawing layouts
  • Experience with analytical characterization techniques such as DSC, FTIR, TGA, DMA, EDS, XRD, electron microscopy
  • Experience with surface modification and chemical treatment of glass and carbon fibrillar materials and with common polymer resin chemistries
  • Experience with compounding, fabricating, and characterizing polymer composites
  • Familiarity with various instruments, controllers and pumps operated by single ingterface softwares such as LabVIEW, Matlab, and AutoCAD
  • Working knowledge of Microsoft Office (which includes Word, PowerPoint and Excel)
  • An excellent record of productive and creative research as demonstrated by publications in peer-reviewed journals
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills and the ability to communicate in English to an international scientific audience
  • Motivated self-starter with the ability to work independently and to participate creatively in collaborative and frequently interacting teams of researchers  
  • Ability to function well in a fast-paced research environment, set priorities to accomplish multiple tasks within deadlines, and adapt to ever changing needs


Other Information:

Applicants cannot have received their Ph.D. more than five years prior to the date of application and must complete all degree requirements before starting their appointment. The appointment length will be up to 24 months with the potential for extension. Initial appointments and extensions are subject to performance and availability of funding.


Benefits at ORNL:  UT-Battelle offers a quality benefits package, including paid vacation, paid personal days and medical/dental plan options. Onsite amenities include a credit union, medical clinic, cafeteria, coffee stands, and fitness facilities.   


Relocation:  Moving can be overwhelming and expensive. UT-Battelle offers a generous relocation package to ease the transition process. Domestic and international relocation assistance is available for certain positions. If invited to interview, be sure to ask your Recruiter (Talent Acquisition Partner) for details.


For more information about our benefits, working here, and living here, visit the “About” tab at


This position will remain open for a minimum of 5 days after which it will close when a qualified candidate is identified and/or hired.

We accept Word (.doc, .docx), Adobe (unsecured .pdf), Rich Text Format (.rtf), and HTML (.htm, .html) up to 5MB in size. Resumes from third party vendors will not be accepted; these resumes will be deleted and the candidates submitted will not be considered for employment.

If you have trouble applying for a position, please email

ORNL is an equal opportunity employer. All qualified applicants, including individuals with disabilities and protected veterans, are encouraged to apply.  UT-Battelle is an E-Verify employer.


Nearest Major Market: Knoxville