PhD position OT-22131

PhD Sustainable biorefinery of plant fibres


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INRAE presentation

The French National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food, and Environment (INRAE) is a major player in research and innovation. It is a community of 12,000 people with 272 research, experimental research, and support units located in 18 regional centres throughout France. Internationally, INRAE is among the top research organisations in the agricultural and food sciences, plant and animal sciences, as well as in ecology and environmental science. It is the world’s leading research organisation specialising in agriculture, food and the environment. INRAE’s goal is to be a key player in the transitions necessary to address major global challenges. Faced with a growing world population, climate change, resource scarcity, and declining biodiversity, the Institute has a major role to play in building solutions and supporting the necessary acceleration of agricultural, food and environmental transitions.

Work environment, missions and activities


Context and PhD Subject:

  1. Background

The clothing industry is a major contributor to environmental pollution due to issues like dyes, microplastics, poor recycling, and the transportation impacts. In response to this, the European project UPWEARS, which involves 15 international partners, aims to produce prototypes of recyclable smart clothing with limited environmental impact.

One of the primary goals of UPWEARS is to develop sustainable European textile fibre production, processing and recycling methods. This objective involves reevaluating the selection of hemp and flax plants for fibre production and their processing into textiles in collaboration with industrial partners (Linificio, Pafil to name a few).

Traditional processing of plant fibre typically involves degumming (the removal of non-fibre components) and bleaching using alkaline oxidative reagents. However, this process is energy-intensive, environmentally harmful, and requires high water consumption. To address these issues, the aim of the PhD project is to develop eco-friendly alternatives using Deep Eutectic Solvents (DES) as green solvent. 

2. Main missions

The main objectives are:

—Developing an efficient DES functionalization of fibres to serve as templates for further derivatization specifically designed for smart garment applications;
—Gaining a deeper understanding of the chemical mechanisms involved in DES-assisted degumming and bleaching process;
— Addressing the extraction of valuable components, such as lignin, to be recovered from recycled DES;
—Implementing DES-based process at the pilot scale in an industrial environment with optimised technical and economic criteria;
— Tackling the economic, societal, and environmental benefits of utilizing DES compared to classical processes;
—Participating in the consortium meetings, dissemination activities, and communications towards partners, scientific community, and stakeholders.

3. Working environment

By joining INRAE, the PhD candidate will benefit from excellent working conditions facilitated by the Institute’s outstanding premises and facilities, cutting-edge technological equipment, and robust social support system, including, health initiatives and opportunities for sports and cultural activities.

The PhD project will be conducted within the multidisciplinary Plant cell wall and polymer (PVPP) team at INRAE-BIA, comprising 15 permanent scientists and technicians. INRAE BIA provides access to all the necessary equipment and methodologies for the study of the current project, supported by the BIBS instrumental platform. Additionally,  collaborative access to facilities at Synchrotron SOLEIL SWING, DISCO lines, and industrial partners’ facilities enhances the research capabilities of the project. Potential Supervisors: Marc Lahaye, Richard Sibout, Johnny Beaugrand, Sofiane Guessasma

Training and skills

Master's degree/Engineering degree


We are looking for a highly motivated PhD candidate to work in an international environment with partners in Italy, Portugal, Sweden, Belgium, United Kingdom, and New Zealand.

The candidate would preferably have a strong background in chemical engineering and/or material science, with an additional expertise in plant science being advantageous.

In addition, knowledge of natural fibres and instrumental techniques including spectroscopy and microscopy dedicated to chemical, thermal, mechanical and elemental analysis, as well as large instruments will be much appreciated.

INRAE's life quality

By joining our teams, you benefit from (depending on the type of contract and its duration):

- up to 30 days of annual leave + 15 days "Reduction of Working Time" (for a full time);
parenting support: CESU childcare, leisure services;
- skills development systems: trainingcareer advise;
social support: advice and listening, social assistance and loans;
holiday and leisure services: holiday vouchers, accommodation at preferential rates;
sports and cultural activities;
- collective catering.

How to apply

I send my CV and my motivation letter

Offer reference

  • Contract: PhD position
  • Duration: 3 years
  • Beginning: 01/10/2024
  • Remuneration: between 2100€ and 2300€ /Month
  • Reference: OT-22131
  • Deadline: 25/06/2024
Centre Pays de la Loire

Biopolymères, Interactions et assemblages de Nantes (BIA) NANTES


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