VITO is an independent Flemish research and technology organization in the area of cleantech and sustainable development, aiming to accelerate the transition to a sustainable world. The business unit Materials and Chemistry has organized its strategic research program around the theme ‘Sustainable Chemistry’. Within this overall scope, a major research line focuses on the efficient conversion of lignin into bio-aromatics, and polymer development based on these biobased derived building blocks.

Project objective

The use of the bioaromatics as a bio-based building block in polymers is currently attracting tremendous interest from both academia and industry. Functional additives, such as flame retardants, UV stabilizers, antioxidants and plasticizers, are ubiquitous in thermoplastics and thermosets, and are essential for improving processability, durability and end-use properties. Lignin is the second most abundant natural polymer on earth (after cellulose), and represents the only large scale source of aromatics in nature. The properties of lignin include antioxidant, antibacterial, flame retardant or UV-bloker. Unfortunately, lignin is still poorly valorized today, and is mainly used as a low cost fuel. At the Sustainable Polymer Technologies (SPOT) team at VITO, we have set ourselves the goal to change this situation: we aim to (partially) replace petroleum-based additives by using lignin derived chemicals. The goal of this project is to develop different lignin-polymer materials with enhanced properties:

  • Evaluation different types of lignin (technical and depolymerized lignins from different sources and extraction proceses).
  • Chemical modifications of lignin
  • Incorporation of the developed lignin bio-additives in (bio)-polymers by thermal extrusion. Evaluation of different formulations.
  • Characterization: Thermal and mechanical properties (DSC, TGA, DMA or tensile testing)

Duration & compensation

The proposed starting date is 1st September 2024 until 31st January 2025.

The student receives an internship compensation of €350,- per month.


For more info or to submit your application, contact Sandra Corderí Gándara (

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