PhD Position Computational Fluid Dynamics of Microplastics – Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) – Delft

  • Delft

Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)

Increasing scientific evidence and public awareness of risks from micro-plastics mean that new technologies are urgently needed to limit micro-plastics release in the aquatic environment. A large contribution to micro-plastics pollution comes from microfibers released from clothes in our washing machines, which cannot be completely filtered with current methods. We are working with an industrial partner to find a solution to the problem.

In this project, the PhD researcher will develop high-resolution simulations to investigate numerically the interaction of model fibers with the complex geometry of mesh-based filters. The simulations will initially focus on single fibers interacting with curved solid walls. The simulations will be carried out with an immersed boundary method, using an appropriate “slender body” approximation for the fibers. Later the PhD student will investigate many fibers, assessing the effects of spontaneous fiber curvature, flexibility and multi-fiber interactions. Part of the project is also the development of analytical one-dimensional filtration models that take into account poly-dispersity in fiber length and stiffness. The research group in which the PhD will work has developed codes for flexible particles (Salussolia, G., et al. “Simulation of interacting elastic sheets in shear flow: Insights into buckling, sliding, and reassembly of graphene nanosheets in sheared liquids.” Physics of Fluids 34.5 (2022) and has almost 20 years of experience in the simulation of multiphase systems.

Developing the simulations will require a good understanding of fluid dynamics and numerical discretisation methods, so any prior research experience in these areas will be valuable. Furthermore, the PhD student will interact with other PhD students (also team members in the project) who will be carrying out experiments for validation, as well as with the industrial partner of the project. Therefore, the ability to communicate effectively and interact in a workgroup is highly valued. Most important is the student’s motivation to use fluid dynamics knowledge to contribute solving an important societal challenge.

The preferred start date is September 2024.

The work will be carried out in the Process & Energy Department of TU Delft, within the research group of Dr. Lorenzo Botto. For information about Botto’s research group and his scientific output, see . For information about the Process & Energy Department, see . The project is done in collaboration with Burak Eral, Process & Energy Department () and Valeria Garbin, Chemical Engineering Department (), who will supervise the experimental parts of the project.


  • 36—40 hours per week
  • €2770—€3539 per month
  • Delft
  • Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)


  • MSc degree in physics, engineering, mathematics or related areas. The MSc degree should have been awarded by the start of the PhD project.
  • A solid background in fluid dynamics, as evidenced by academic courses as well as research reports and papers (even unpublished).
  • Some experience with coding in a modern programming language and an interest in using computers for scientific discovery. Having attended courses in numerical methods is a plus.
  • Good scientific communication and writing skills.
  • The applicant should be open to collaboration, as the project requires coordination and synergy with other team members and external partners.

    Doing a PhD at TU Delft requires English proficiency at a certain level to ensure that the candidate is able to communicate and interact well, participate in English-taught Doctoral Education courses, and write scientific articles and a final thesis. For more details please check the .

    Conditions of employment

    Fixed-term contract: 4 years.

    Doctoral candidates will be offered a 4-year period of employment in principle, but in the form of 2 employment contracts. An initial 1,5 year contract with an official go/no go progress assessment within 15 months. Followed by an additional contract for the remaining 2,5 years assuming everything goes well and performance requirements are met.

    Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities, increasing from € 2770 per month in the first year to € 3539 in the fourth year. As a PhD candidate you will be enrolled in the TU Delft Graduate School. The TU Delft Graduate School provides an inspiring research environment with an excellent team of supervisors, academic staff and a mentor. The Doctoral Education Programme is aimed at developing your transferable, discipline-related and research skills.

    The TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package, discounts on health insurance, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged.

    For international applicants, TU Delft has the . This service provides information for new international employees to help you prepare the relocation and to settle in the Netherlands. The Coming to Delft Service offers a for partners and they organise events to expand your (social) network.


    Delft University of Technology

    Delft University of Technology is built on strong foundations. As creators of the world-famous Dutch waterworks and pioneers in biotech, TU Delft is a top international university combining science, engineering and design. It delivers world class results in education, research and innovation to address challenges in the areas of energy, climate, mobility, health and digital society. For generations, our engineers have proven to be entrepreneurial problem-solvers, both in business and in a social context.

    At TU Delft we embrace diversity as one of our core and we actively to be a university where you feel at home and can flourish. We value different perspectives and qualities. We believe this makes our work more innovative, the TU Delft community more vibrant and the world more just. Together, we imagine, invent and create solutions using technology to have a positive impact on a global scale. That is why we invite you to apply. Your application will receive fair consideration.

    Challenge. Change. Impact!


    Faculty Mechanical Engineering

    From chip to ship. From machine to human being. From idea to solution. Driven by a deep-rooted desire to understand our environment and discover its underlying mechanisms, research and education at the ME faculty focusses on fundamental understanding, design, production including application and product improvement, materials, processes and (mechanical) systems.

    ME is a dynamic and innovative faculty with high-tech lab facilities and international reach. It’s a large faculty but also versatile, so we can often make unique connections by combining different disciplines. This is reflected in ME’s outstanding, state-of-the-art education, which trains students to become responsible and socially engaged engineers and scientists. We translate our knowledge and insights into solutions to societal issues, contributing to a sustainable society and to the development of prosperity and well-being. That is what unites us in pioneering research, inspiring education and (inter)national cooperation.

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