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MSCA-ETN SULTAN ESR7: Advanced leaching of Cu-Zn, Zn-Pb and Cu-Zn-Pb tailings using microwave heating.


PhD position (“Early Stage Researcher”) to be funded by the Marie-Sklodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network “SULTAN – European Training Network for the Remediation and Reprocessing of Sulfidic Mining Waste Sites” within the Horizon 2020 Programme of the European Commission. (www.etn-sultan.eu)


Applicants need to fully respect three eligibility criteria (to demonstrated in the Europass cv):

Early-stage researchers (ESR)
are those who are, at the time of recruitment by the host, in the first four years (full-time equivalent) of their research careers. This is measured from the date when they obtained the degree which formally entitles them to embark on a doctorate, either in the country in which the degree was obtained or in the country in which the research training is provided, irrespective of whether or not a doctorate was envisaged.

Conditions of international mobility of researchers:

Researchers are required to undertake trans-national mobility (i.e. move from one country to another) when taking up the appointment. At the time of selection by the host organisation, researchers must not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in the country of their host organisation for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately prior to their recruitment. Short stays, such as holidays, are not taken into account.

English language: Network fellows (ESRs) must demonstrate that their ability to understand and express themselves in both written and spoken English is sufficiently high for them to derive the full benefit from the network training.


See for instance: http://www.helsinki.fi/facultyofscience/postgraduate/postapplicant.html







The available PhD position at VITO:

ESR7: Advanced leaching of Cu-Zn, Zn-Pb and Cu-Zn-Pb tailings using microwave heating

Main supervisor: Dr. Jeroen Spooren (jeroen.spooren@vito.be)

University supervisor: Prof. Koen Binnemans (KU Leuven)

Objectives: To apply microwaves (MWs) to increase selectivity, efficiency and kinetics of hydro- and solvometallurgical leaching systems for tailings; to understand the interaction of MWs with the solid tailing material in order to enhance local crack formation; to determine the MW activation of water and its influence on the leaching system; to perform MW heating of solvents, including deep eutectic solvents, in order to enhance solvent based leaching systems.

Start of the PhD: asap
Registration deadline: 25/08/2019


All applications proceed via the SULTAN website.





In the last decades, we witnessed how the liberalization of the electricity markets and the associated unbundling significantly changed the energy landscape. Instead of organizing the system as a vertically integrated utility, independent actors interact on the electricity markets, such as generation companies, transmission and distribution system operators, retailers, power exchanges, or balance responsible parties.

The transmission system operator (TSO) acts as a market facilitator and is in charge of power system reliability. In this regard, system operators have a number of tasks: from real-time balancing and congestion management, to infrastructure investments. Operating the transmission system is recognized as a natural monopoly. For this reason, TSOs are regulated, also in the framework of liberalized electricity markets. National Regulatory Authorities (NRAs) regulate and provide incentives to ensure TSOs can operate the market efficiently, and remain (financially) neutral. Nevertheless, there can be a gap between the anticipated effect of regulation posed on TSOs and the observed outcome.
The available cross-border transmission capacity after the implementation of the flow-based market coupling (FBMC) can be seen as an example of unforeseen consequences of new regulation. Initially the FBMC should have allowed higher cross-border exchanges and, consequently, higher social welfare in day-ahead electricity markets. However, soon after implementation, some TSO discretionary actions (e.g., adding new critical lines with very low “Remaining Available Margin RAM”) have limited trade and price convergence, and hence led to significant decreases in the gained social welfare [5], [6].
To this end, the goal of this PhD project is to study the consequences of the European and national regulatory framework on incentives for TSOs, and how those will evolve with the ongoing trends in electricity system and market design (e.g.,increased interconnection, higher shares of renewables and storages and active consumers). Additionally, the aim is to identify possibly conflicting or perverse incentives (from a single or different entities, e.g. NRA against European network of TSOs for electricity (ENTSO-e)). To limit the scope, the focus is on the operational tasks of the TSO (i.e., market coupling, congestion management and balancing; from reserve sizing to procurement and activation). Based on a state-of-the-art modeling framework, mimicking the day-to-day operations of a TSO and it’s interaction with the regulatory framework/regulator, case studies on specific topics are envisioned. These case studies may include, but are not limited to, market-based congestion management (vs. the current command-and-control framework) and cross-border TSO-TSO collaboration in reserve capacity sizing, procurement and activation.

Collaboration with University of Leuven
Registration deadline: 23/08/2019



Our established healthcare system is no longer sustainable due to the aging population demographics and the transformation of many fatal disorders into chronic diseases. Preventive healthcare is rising to the challenge of providing early diagnosis and assistance to the risk group populations, effectively allowing individuals to live healthy instead of living with chronic diseases. Within the “I am Frontier” cohort, we are following 30 healthy participants on a monthly basis, which we use to generate different omics data sets including (but not limited to) genomics (Whole Genome Sequencing), epigenetics (Methylation), clinical biomarkers, microbiome, proteomics and metabolomics. Moreover,  we collect information about physiological parameters (heart rate, sleep patterns …) and lifestyle (activity, food intake,stress, ...) via questionnaires and wearables. This data, used in combination with data from a range of disease, profiles allow us to calculate individual risk profiles for a range of diseases.
The aim of this bioinformatics project is to develop new approaches to data integration, analysis and visualization in high-dimensional cross -omics datasets. Beginning with genomics, epigenetics, proteomics, metabolomic and microbiome data generated on samples from the I am cohort, the Ph.D. candidate will develop methods to discover the relationships across these datasets, identify relevant patterns in the data and relate these to available public databases. Moreover, those data can also be correlated to a wide range of clinical parameters as well as data obtained using activity trackers.
We are looking for a highly motivated and scientifically excellent candidate in genomics/bioinformatics background with a problem-solving attitude to work in an international, collegial environment. Strong communication skills complemented with innovative  and analytical thinking are important assets.

Collaboration with University of Hasselt
Registration deadline: 23/08/2019



The increasing amount of Distributed Energy Resources (DERs), which have recently been integrated in power systems, and the more proactive role of consumers have transformed the classical centralized power system operation by introducing more uncertainty and decentralization in the decisions. Following this trend, electricity markets are starting to restructure, from a centralized market design in which all the operations were managed by a central (global) market operator, modeled as a classical constrained optimization problem, to more decentralized designs involving local energy communities which can trade energy by the intermediate of the global market operator or in a peer-to-peer setting. This latter design requires the introduction of game-theoretical approaches to model the complex interactions between the agents and provide guidelines regarding decentralized system evolution.

The information (historics of the agents’ past actions, private information captured through types, etc.) that each agent can access is capital, as it impacts the agent’s strategy definition and the dynamic evolution of the underlying game. Various learning mechanisms can be implemented by the agents, in a distributed fashion (Bayesian inference, regret minimization, etc.). Questions on convergence of these distributed learning algorithms, as well as the capability for these algorithms to efficiently approximate equilibrium (Generalized Nash in case of shared resource, correlated equilibrium in case Nature is introduced) resulting from such complex underlying games, raise tricky questions.

In this PhD work we propose to:

• Develop and analyse a game-theoretic model for peer-to-peer energy trading where peers may have various level of information, the performance of which will be compared to centralized and hierarchical market designs. These latter will be used as benchmarks, and formulated using control-theoretic and Stackelberg game approaches in a context of sequential decision making. Endogenous risk impact on the market behavior will also be studied. To perform the comparison of the different market designs, performance indicators will be considered, reflecting various points of view on the system behavior (social welfare, efficiency loss relying on the Price of Anarchy, etc.)

• Provide methodological approaches for the design of a smart contract on top of a decentralized demand and supply matching platform, guaranteeing the automatic detection of a consensus reaching. Careful analysis of distributed trust-based communication mechanisms in a peer-to-peer market design setting should be provided.

• Analyse the robustness of the smart contract in case of malicious behavior of some agents, attacks or faults. The detection of these latter in a decentralized energy trading system will also be considered as a methodological approach.


Practicalities and organization: The PhD work will last 3.5 years, with a possible start in October 2019. The candidate is expected to prepare a workplan and to present it in front of a jury in Belgium, before the official start of the grant.

Contact: Please provide CV, motivation letter and two recommendation letters (by default, the names of two persons who could recommend you) to:
• Dr Ana Busic (ana.busic@inria.fr
• Dr Hélène Le Cadre (helene.lecadre@vito.be)


Registration deadline: 23/08/2019


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.