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Inorganic sorption materials tailored for 225Ra/225Ac and 225Ac/213Bi radionuclide generators for biomedical applications


For radiotherapeutic treatment or medical imaging, it is essential that the radioisotope of interest is quickly available in high purity. Therefore, medical radioisotopes are often obtained from a radionuclide generator, which consists of a solid support that acts as an accumulator for the isotope of interest.

This project focuses on 225Ac and 213Bi, two isotopes used in targeted alpha therapy. Initially, the mother isotope, 225Ra or 225Ac, is sorbed onto the solid material with high affinity for the cation. Due to radioactive decay, the daughter isotope, resp. 225Ac or 213Bi, accumulates in the material and can be eluted at regular intervals. Currently available solid sorption materials are poorly resistant against radioactive radiation, have a short shelf life and have limited binding capacity.

In this project, novel sorption materials that can serve as solid support for 225Ra/225Ac and 225Ac/213Bi generators are synthesized starting from activated carbon or titania particles. Commercially available activated carbon or titania with selected characteristics, such as particle size and porosity, undergo a chemical or heating treatment to modify their surface with a range of chemical functional groups containing oxygen, nitrogen, phosphor or sulphur atoms that can bind cations. Extensive characterization of the modified surface to determine the identity and amount of functional groups and sorption behaviour towards Ra, Ac and Bi in several aquatic media is an important part of the project work. Information gathered by means of various instrumental analytical techniques, such as infrared spectroscopy, thermo gravimetric analysis with mass spectrometry, BET analysis, acid base titration and inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry allows to understand the surface chemistry of the new materials.

In order to evaluate the effect of radioactive radiation on the surface characteristics, promising new material candidates will be irradiated in an-house facility, followed by reassessment of surface and sorption characteristics. Most promising materials will undergo a shaping process in the form of controlled coagulation to produce uniform sorption materials with good packing and elution characteristics. 

After final validation of the material for the intended application, a new radionuclide generator sorption material is available. It will be well shaped, well characterized, radiation resistant, with sufficient binding capacity and separation chemistry.



Reduction of the return temperature of substations enables a higher efficiency of the substations, but also enables a better heat usage in a complete heating network. In 4th generation heating networks, the aim is to reduce the supply temperatures radically, which mean that substations need to operate with higher efficiency. A low return temperature is a requirement to reduce the supply temperature, since the capacity of the network is proportional to the difference between both temperatures. Therefore, to be able to decrease the supply temperature while guaranteeing the network capacity, the return temperature should be minimized.

In this project the aim is to operate and control a substation as a multivariable system embedded in a larger network. Using a multi-objective optimization approach where the return temperature of the substation is one of the components in the objective function, the supply constraints and demand requirements will be jointly optimized.

The resulting operation and control scheme will consist of multiple levels, which will jointly act, thus low-level control and supervisory levels will not act independently. It can also be assumed that the substation design with respect to actuators and sensors might need to be updated.

Although most of the components in a substation are known and models are available, the parameters for these models need to be updated using a system identification scheme, which can also be used in the resulting substation concept as an online scheme with subsequent automated controller and optimized update.


Collaboration with the Lulea University of Technology (Sweden)

Registration deadline: 11/03/2019





This PhD will considerably advance the state-of-the-art in optimal valorization and aggregation of energy flexibility by developing, integrating and exploiting novel algorithms for the dynamic quantification of uncertainty and risks regarding energy flexibility.

· In the state-of-the-art of flexibility research, emerging uncertainty is explored and sampled when modelling and optimizing flexibility, but precise definitions and quantifications are lacking.

· This uncertainty will be quantified during this PhD research, using appropriate data science techniques to calculate the risk-of-unexpected-unavailability of the flexibility that was offered earlier, and that take this risk into account when valorizing the energy flexibility in different applications and markets. The result will be that a larger scala of flexibility carriers and types can be valorized.

· The risk factors will be explored and quantified from the points-of-views of the flexibility buyer and the flexibility provider, and applied/adapted to a broad spectrum of energy generating/consuming device types. Ultimately the goals is to provide an approach that can be applied to any type of energy flexibility carriers, including those that cannot be explicitly modelled using a white box or grey box approach

· Novel optimization algorithms will be developed that maximize the reward functions for either and both points-of-view in the context of current and future energy and energy-flexibility markets.


Collaboration with University of Ghent
Registration deadline: 11/03/2019



Would you like to improve your career opportunities even more by gaining a doctorate? If so, be sure to familiarize yourself with the opportunities that VITO is able to offer you! Take a look at our PhD topic list.

VITO supports applicants wanting to do research for four years under the leadership of a university supervisor and a co-supervisor from VITO, resulting in the achievement of a doctorate and tying in with other research done at VITO.

Various options are possible:

VITO doctoral grant

At various times each year, VITO publishes a number of doctorate subjects, with the object of supporting VITO research. These subjects are selected carefully in advance, in the context of strategic collaboration with the university supervisor. As such, both the subject and the supervisor will have been established when an applicant starts his doctorate. The subjects selected for doctorates are usually very much application-oriented. View our PhD topic list to select a subject to get more information and apply. Check the PhD regulations for the acceptance criteria (degree, topic,...).

If you are selected you will be notified. From that moment on you get the chance to work out a PhD proposal, together with your promotor at VITO and your university supervisor. You will have to present your PhD proposal to the doctoral jury at VITO.

FWO-VITO research mandate

On 8th June 2009, FWO and VITO signed a protocol to fund 2 additional doctorates next to the FWO doctoral mandates that are granted annually. This procedure starts by submitting a standard application for an FWO research mandate. Places will be offered to applicants who are ranked high enough and whose research proposal is situated within a strategic VITO domain. More info

Doctorate in the context of European collaboration

If you have a particular interest in international issues, a doctorate in the context of a European project could present you with a unique opportunity. VITO participates in European networks, in which doctorates abroad are often made available.