Post-doctoral Researcher in Thermal Separations Technology

Job Description

An opportunity for a post-doctoral researcher in the field of thermal separations technology is currently available. The position is for research within the focus areas of the separations technology research currently being conducted by the Department of Process Engineering at Stellenbosch University.  The position will be awarded initially for a period of one year but may be extended based on performance and availability of funds. A minimum amount of R 220 000 per annum has been granted for the position and, provided we follow the necessary procedures, this amount should be tax-free.

At present, the separations technology research group includes four academics and more than fifteen post-graduate students.  At the core of the thermal separations technology there are three main aspects of research:

  • Phase equilibrium data, including both experimental data and theoretical predictions (both low and high pressure).
  • Mass transfer fundamentals, including measurement of diffusion and mass transfer coefficients, hydraulic characterisation of distillation trays and packing, measurement and characterisation of effective mass transfer area on packings, etc.
  • Physical separation testing and modelling, including bench and pilot plant scale testing and optimisation of separation processes.

The aforementioned three areas can be applied to a number of unit operations, such as distillation, liquid-liquid extraction, absorption, adsorption, supercritical fluid extraction etc. The postdoctoral researcher would be required to conduct research and provide significant assistance with the following:

  • Supervision of postgraduate student projects;
  • Performing experimental work when necessary;
  • Publication of research outputs from research generated;
  • Developing new areas of research within the research group;
  • Improving experimental facilities;
  • Writing new funding proposals to sustain research activities.

The main focus of the current position would be on thermodynamics, phase behaviour, distillation and/or supercritical fluid extraction principles.


Desired Skills and Experience


A PhD (or to be completed by early 2015) in Chemical Engineering, Chemical Technology or similar discipline with proven research record in at least one of the aspects described above, as related to thermal separations technology, is a requirement. As the position requires significant communication tasks, good command of the English language, especially written English, is essential.


A first degree in Chemical Engineering, allowing registration as a professional engineer will be considered a significant benefit.   Preference will be given to applicants with notable experience and skills and a good publication record in one or more of the following areas:

  • Thermodynamic measurements and modelling of low and/or high pressure phase behaviour;
  • Fundamental understanding of phase behaviour and the impact of phase behaviour on separation processes;
  • Command of Aspen Plus® or similar for process modelling of thermal separation processes;
  • High pressure/supercritical processing.

Strong leadership qualities, the ability to co-manage a group of students and experience in co-supervision of students will be an advantage.


A covering letter and curriculum vitae, including all research outputs and names and contact details of at least three references should be sent to Dr. C.E. Schwarz, Department of Process Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, University of Stellenbosch, Private Bag X1, Matieland, 7602, South Africa. Fax: +27‑(0)21-808-2059 or, preferably, via e-mail:

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