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Postdoctoral Research Associate - Nanomaterials for Separations

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Date: Dec 12, 2018

Location: Oak Ridge, TN, US, 37831

Company: Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Requisition Id 190 


Oak Ridge National Laboratory is seeking to fill a Postdoctoral Research position in our Applied Catalysis and Emissions Research Group in the Energy and Transportation Science Division. The postdoc will become part of our separations team as well as part of the Bioprocessing Separations Consortium program that involves on-going collaborations among multiple national laboratories. The successful candidate will conduct complex research in membrane/adsorbent materials synthesis and separation/purification process development for thermochemical processing of biomass to biofuels and high-value chemicals. Research will include development of advanced materials including ceramic/polymeric/graphene-based membranes that contain tailor-designed nanostructures and chemical functionalities for enhanced water/ion transport, highly selective organic molecule extraction processes, and separation-enhanced catalytic conversion.  These future generations of hybrid or composite membranes may include a variety of functionalized nanomaterials such as nanoporous inorganic (ceramic/metallic) supports, polymer or cross-linked graphene coatings, inorganic composites, and mixed matrix materials.

The research spans basic to applied research in in bioenergy, transportation, and energy storage programs.  The candidate will be expected to work in multi-disciplinary teams.  The Bioprocessing Separations Consortium is a highly collaborative interdisciplinary team of chemical engineers, material scientists, physical chemists, electrochemists and biochemical engineers/scientists working toward advance functional materials for separations and catalytic conversions of biomass and derived intermediates; more information can be found at The postdoc will be encouraged to collaborate with the consortium team as well as other ORNL researchers and actively present results at team meetings and conferences.

Major Duties/Responsibilities

  • Responsible for developing and progressing high flux selective membrane separations (water selective or organic selective):  both nanomaterials synthesis research and separation process development. Nanomaterials of interest include nanoporous/microporous ceramic coatings (and surface functionalization) on porous substrates, supported dewatering membrane layer deposition, high-temperature water-permeating polymeric coating layers, permeable superhydrophobic or superhydrophilic coatings, fast water-transporting graphene particle layers (cross-linked graphene sheet particles or dispersed graphene in polymer) on porous ceramic (alumina, titania, zirconia) substrates.
  • Participate in aspects of adsorbent/catalyst development involving chemical synthesis of materials (ceramic, polymer, surface functionalization), materials characterizations, and process performance evaluations. Example ceramics are nanoparticles or porous materials of alumina, ceria, zirconia, and zeolites.
  • Work with the principal investigator and others as a team player to maintain a high level of scientific productivity and to meet project/task milestones.
  • Responsible for preparing, presenting, and reporting research results and publishing scientific results in key peer-reviewed journals in a timely manner.
  • Work with the principal investigator as necessary in developing new ideas and extended proposals beyond the scope of currently sponsored project(s).
  • Ensure compliance with environment, safety, health and quality program requirements.
  • Maintain strong dedication to the implementation and perpetuation of values and ethics.

Qualifications Required

Basic Qualifications: 

  • Ph.D. in chemical engineering, chemistry (physical, polymer, organic synthetic), (nano)materials science and engineering, biochemical engineering, or a closely related discipline completed within the last five years
  • An excellent record of productive and creative research demonstrated by publications in peer-reviewed journals and presentations at scientific conferences
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills and the ability to communicate in English to an international scientific audience
  • Capable of conducting creative research independently with minimal supervision
  • Ability to work collaboratively in a team environment and interact effectively with a broad range of colleagues
  • Ability to function well in a dynamic research environment, set priorities to accomplish tasks on time, and adapt to ever-changing needs

Preferred Qualifications: 

  • Hands-on experience in ceramic and supported layer membrane fabrication (ceramic, polymeric, graphene powder, and composites), characterization, and experimental evaluations (liquid and vapor phase)
  • Strong background and interest in separations involving membranes, adsorbents, molecularly selective extractions, pervaporative membranes, superhydrophobic/superhydrophilic coatings, dewatering and desalination
  • Expertise in materials chemistry and synthesis/processing of supported membrane/coating materials (e.g., functionalized nanoporous ceramic-polymer, ceramic-graphene, or polymer-graphene hybrids)
  • Familiarity with thermochemical conversion and upgrading pathways of biomass to fuels and chemicals, as well as the associated separation needs
  • Familiarity with advanced electron microscopy and related nanoscale characterization tools for microporous and dense materials and structures for in-depth material chemistry and nanostructure analysis
  • Knowledge in separation process modeling and molecular computation simulation is a plus

Appointments will initially be for 24 months with a possibility of an extension of up to 12 months. Initial appointments and extensions are subject to performance and availability of funding. 


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.

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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