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Postdoctoral Research Assistant In Thermal/hydrothermal Treatment Of Biosolids (2 Positions)

RMIT University - Melbourne, VIC

Executive & Strategic Management
Source: uWorkin


Postdoctoral Research Assistant in Thermal/hydrothermal Treatment of Biosolids (2 positions)
Job no: 595477
Work type: Part time - Fixed term/Contract
Categories: Engineering, Research, Science

  • Part-time (0.8FTE), 3 years fixed-term contract based at RMIT Bundoora campus but will be required to work at Partner Industry Locations
  • Positions are available in the innovative resource and waste technologies laboratory of Associate Prof Kalpit Shah at the School of Engineering, RMIT University (Bundoora campus)
  • First position focus on on studying and benchmarking thermochemical processes such as pelletisation, pyrolysis, gasification and hydrothermal liquefaction for their potential application in regional and urban water utilities for treating biosolids/sewage sludge
  • Second position focus on evaluating the feasibility of using biosolids and their transformed carbon products such as biochar, hydrochar and ash in non-agricultural applications
  • Remuneration at Academic Level A6 ($87,171) + 17% superannuation

About Us

RMIT is a multi-sector university of technology, design and enterprise with more than 91,000 students and 11,000 staff globally. RMIT offers postgraduate, undergraduate, vocational education and online programs to provide students with a variety of work-relevant pathways.

Our purpose is to offer life-changing experiences for our students, and to help shape the world with research, innovation, teaching and industry engagement. With strong industry connections forged over 130 years, collaboration with industry remains integral to RMIT’s leadership in education, applied and innovative research, and to the development of highly skilled, globally focused graduates.


Our Values inspire us, wherever we are in the world, and guide how we live and work together.

Imagination. Agility. Courage. Passion. Impact. Inclusion.

What unites us is our purpose and our values; they are at the heart of who we are, what we stand for, how we make decisions and connect with each other.

Our people make everything at the University possible. We encourage new approaches to work and learning, stimulating change to drive positive impact. RMIT exists to create transformative experiences for our students, getting them ready for life and work. You will be a part of a productive and collaborative team, who values working relationships and outcomes through open and inclusive planning, continuous information sharing and transparent work practices.

About the ARC Training Centre for the Transformation of Australia’s Biosolids Resource

This Centre brings together Australia’s leading biosolids researchers and key industry and government stakeholders to advance the management, transformation and reuse of biosolids. The focus is: (i) capability and knowledge building, (ii) research development, extension and training, and (iii) sustainable strategic partnerships. The expected outcomes of the Centre are to develop a group of new, highly-trained industry-ready researchers as well as advanced solutions in three major themes: (i) improved technologies, (ii) enhanced products, and (iii) sustainability. This will provide significant benefits in the economic value of new applications and market opportunities as well as deliver cost-savings – all in an environmentally friendly manner.

To transform Australia’s biosolids resources, the vision and overarching goal of the ARC Training Centre for the Transformation of Australia's Biosolids Resource is to advance fundamental and translational biosolids research, resulting in both the high-quality interdisciplinary training of new, industry-ready researchers, and novel applications and new market opportunities for the Australian biosolids industry.

The Specific Aims Of The Centre Are

  • Capacity and knowledge building: to build new knowledge and train the next generation of researchers/ practitioners capable of resolving multi-disciplinary issues associated with managing and reusing biosolids.
  • Integrated research and development: to implement a fully integrated, interdisciplinary five-year program of research, which will develop a range of cost-effective, sustainable, socially and environmentally viable solutions for biosolids management and reuse.
  • Sustainable strategic partnerships: to engage with key industry, government, and stakeholders to resolve emerging issues related to biosolids management and reuse.

  • The Vision Of The Centre Will Be Delivered Through The Following Three Themes

    This Centre brings together 13 of Australia’s leading biosolids researchers from 4 universities and 21 key industry and government stakeholders across Australia to advance the management, transformation and reuse of biosolids in agriculture.

  • Improving technologies In this theme, we will be looking at improving existing wastewater treatment processes/technologies and current beneficial routes as well as investigating new alternative technologies to reduce biosolids volume and transform them into high-value products. Existing processes such as anaerobic digesters and advance treatment methods such as drying, thermal hydrolysis, pyrolysis, gasification and hydrothermal liquefaction will be studied in depth for benchmarking to realise their techno-commercial potential in different scenarios (i.e. urban versus regional water utilities).
  • Enhancing product applications: In this theme, we will investigate the transformation of biosolids into novel carbon based fertiliser/growing media/advance materials for its use in commercial farming systems (such as horticulture, agriculture and greenhouses) and non-farming systems (such as construction, energy, animal feed) to develop sustainable water treatment and farming systems by closing carbon and nutrient cycles.
  • Ensuring sustainability: This theme will consider a number of topics that are central to the successful implementation of improved management of biosolids or related products relevant to water and agriculture industries and environmental protection agencies (EPAs). These include facilitating an understanding of biosolids and tackling odour to improve community acceptance, developing national guidelines, developing a framework for evidence-based risk assessment of biosolids and its related products, and measuring public perception of the social and environmental benefits of biosolids transformation.

  • Position 1

    About You and the Role
    • Conduct research using broad range of broad range of thermal/hydrothermal technologies researched and trialled, which largely consist of dewatering, drying, and some level of (potentially combustion) thermal processing applications & techniques;
    • Perform research on developing analysis and technology assessment pathways to reduce risk for thermal/hydrothermal processing of biosolids, provide decision support tools, and undertake fundamental research for optimisation of the processes specifically for biosolids/sewage sludge;
    • Conduct and deliver comprehensive literature review of technologies, identify optimum process conditions via experimental and modelling work, develop work, develop process engineering models in general and specialised packages such as ASPEN Plus, perform techno-economic assessment and build a platform for technology assessment/decision tool;
    • Collaborate with industry mentors and other research team members involved in this project and centre.

    Position 2
    • Conduct research on evaluating the feasibility of using biosolids and their transformed carbon products such as biochar, hydrochar and ash in non-agricultural applications. Applications to be evaluated may include their use as adsorbents, catalysts, secondary fuels, construction materials and odour reduction agents;
    • Work on knowledge gap and explore potential high-value and sustainable market/application options. Areas that require exploration include risks, markets and price points. The specific tasks required will be characterisation of biosolids and their transformed carbon products, identification of properties required in the biosolids and their transformed carbon products for a range of non-agricultural applications, development of functionalisation strategies for transformed carbon products to meet the properties required for a range of specific non-agricultural applications, laboratory and pilot-scale or real life demonstration of applications and assessment of techno-commercial viability of the applications.



    PhD in Chemical Engineering or related discipline

    • A doctoral degree in chemical engineering or related discipline; must be a recent PhD graduate within the last three years; strong oral and written communication skills and disseminated research findings at conferences;
    • At least 3 first-author publications in an indexed journal and ability to draft research plan and grant proposals are required;
    • Emerging research track record in thermal/hydrothermal technologies research for biosolids or biomass conversion into energy and value-added products;
    • Knowledge on the application of biochar, hydrochar and ash into reuse/remanufacturing;
    • Proven experience in developing process models, including thermal/hydrothremal process kinetics and equilibria, and performing techno-economic assessment.
    • Expertise in Excel Macro and Matlab programming.

    Note: Appointment to this position is subject to passing a Working with Children check.

    Bring Your Whole Self To Work

    We are better for our diversity . When we listen to those who are different to us, or challenge us, we grow stronger together. When we feel like we belong, we can achieve so much more.We respect each other, embrace our differences and build a sense of belonging in our team and beyond.

    We are proud that our dedication to diversity has been recognized by a broad spectrum of external organizations. Visit our Linkedin Life pages to learn more and see some of our most recent wins.

    To Apply

    Please submit your resume and cover letter outlining your experience and achievements by clicking on the ‘Apply now’ link. Please note that a separate response to Key Selection Criteria as stated on the Position Description is required. For any enquiries regarding this role, please contact, A/Prof Kalpit Shah ( kalpit.shah@rmit.edu.au )

    RMIT is a Disability Confident Recruitment Team and we are happy to adjust the recruitment process for your accessibility requirements. Please contact us at TalentSupport@rmit.edu.au telling us your preferred type of communication and we will be in touch as soon as possible to discuss your requirements.

    Applications close on Sunday 18th April 2021.

    RMIT is an equal opportunity employer committed to being a child safe organisation. We are dedicated to attracting, retaining and developing our people regardless of gender identity, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability and age. Applications are encouraged from all sectors of the community and we strongly encourage applications from the Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander community.

    Please note that whilst we still accept applications from any persons interested in our roles, due to the impacts of COVID-19, we are currently prioritising applications from those with current working rights in Australia and who are not affected by travel restrictions. Please see the latest updates to Australia’s immigration and border arrangements during the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak : https://covid19.homeaffairs.gov.au/

    Application close: 18 Apr 2021 11:55 PM AUS Eastern Standard Time

    Melbourne, VIC

    Executive & Strategic Management


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