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National Renewable Energy Laboratory Postdoctoral Researcher – Process modeling and sustainability analysis for plastics upcycling in Golden, Colorado

Posting Title

Postdoctoral Researcher – Process modeling and sustainability analysis for plastics upcycling



CO - Golden


Position Type

Postdoc (Fixed Term)


Hours Per Week



Job Description

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colorado, is the nation's primary laboratory for research, development, and deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies. The NREL mission is to develop renewable energy and energy efficient technologies and practices, advance related science and engineering, and transfer knowledge and innovation to address the nation’s energy and environmental goals. The National Bioenergy Center at NREL has an opening for a full time Postdoctoral Researcher within the Chemical and Material Process Development group. The initial appointment is for one year, with possible renewal up to three years.

The National Bioenergy Center is conducting research aimed at upcycling today’s plastics using chemical and biological catalysis and designing tomorrow’s plastics to be recyclable-by-design. This position will focus on rigorous techno-economic analysis and process modeling, life-cycle assessment, and use of the Material Flows through Industry Supply Chain modeling tool to baseline today’s manufacturing processes for plastics and to compare those to new chemical and biological recycling approaches. This position will specifically focus on the development of detailed process models to baseline the business-as-usual cases for commodity plastics manufacturing, and also to write high-impact publications for the chemistry and engineering communities against which to compare innovative concepts in plastics upcycling. Work with a dynamic, multi-disciplinary experimental and modeling team will be a critical component of this position, and analysis will be expected to guide experimental research efforts.

The successful candidate will be able to:

  • assimilate a wide variety of information into assessments

  • contribute to the planning and execution of research and experimental work

  • communicate scientific results effectively, both written and oral

  • author peer-reviewed publications, and

  • work effectively in a large, multidisciplinary team of engineers, chemists, and biologists.


Basic Qualifications

Must be a recent, related PhD graduate within the last three years.


Additional Required Qualifications

  • Research experience with an emphasis on chemical process development, including biomass conversion and/or plastics manufacturing

  • Demonstrated experience with process modeling with tools such as Aspen Plus

  • Demonstrated experience with life-cycle assessment tools such as SimaPro

  • PhD degree in chemical engineering or related field

Preferred Qualifications

  • Understanding of current (petroleum) refinery processes

  • Understanding of biomass conversion research and processes

  • Experience in polymer synthesis or use

  • Relevant experience with sustainable materials and practices


Submission Guidelines

Please note that in order to be considered an applicant for any position at NREL you must submit an application form for each position for which you believe you are qualified. Applications are not kept on file for future positions. Please include a cover letter and resume with each position application.


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The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is a leader in the U.S. Department of Energy’s effort to secure an environmentally and economically sustainable energy future. With locations in Golden and Boulder, Colorado, and a satellite office in Washington, D.C., NREL is the primary laboratory for research, development, and deployment of renewable energy technologies in the United States.

NREL is subject to Department of Energy (DOE) access restrictions. All candidates must be authorized to access the facility per DOE rules and guidance within a reasonable time frame for the specified position in order to be considered for an interview. DOE rules for site access during the interview process are the same regardless of whether the candidate is interviewed on-site, off-site, or via telephone or videoconference. Additionally, DOE contractor employees are prohibited from participating in certain Foreign Government Talent Recruitment Programs (FGTRPs). If a candidate is currently participating in an FGTRP, they will be required to disclose their participation after receiving an offer of employment and may be required to disengage from participation in the FGTRP prior to commencing employment. Any offer of employment is conditional on the ability to obtain work authorization and to be granted access to NREL by the Department of Energy (DOE). We understand that COVID-19 may have caused delays or closures at offices, consulates, and embassies. However, NREL cannot make exceptions to work authorization and access requirements, and exceptions to these requirements are not being made for COVID-19 related delays.

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