Nowadays, thermosetting polymers such as epoxy resins, unsaturated polyester, and phenol formaldehyde are extensively used as coatings, adhesives, and structural applications because of their outstanding mechanical and electrical properties, chemical resistance, and adhesion. The global thermoset plastic market is about 25 billion dollars. It is very difficult to recycle the thermosets because of the cross-linked nature of the resin. Solvolysis, using reactive solvents to break down chemical bonds in thermoset resins, has been regarded as one of the most promising recycling.

Assignment description

Goal of internship: Chemical recycling of a typical thermosets via solvolysis.


  1. Solvent selection for solvolysis of thermosets including epoxy resin,unsaturated polyester, and phenol formaldehyde based on literature and theoretical analysis.
  2. Test the solvents for solvolysis of thermosets and optimize the reaction conditions.
  3. Characterization of the thermoset and the degradation products using FTIR, HPLC, GC-MS, LC-MS, DSC.
  4. Preliminary mechanism analysis of the selected solvolysis methods.

The intern will be part of a research team led by the adviser and supervised by Qian Zhou and Moctar Coulibaly. The working language can be Dutch and English.

Desirable skills/qualities of the student

The student should be able to carry out independent laboratory research. The preferred background is chemistry.

Starting date & compensation

The proposed starting date is September 2024. The length of the assignment is 5 months.

The student will get an internship fee of €350,- per month.


Contact person concerning this assignment: Qian Zhou
Phone: +316 10224446
Visiting address: Centre of Expertise Materials and Energy Transition
Street / number, areal code and place: Lovendijkstraat 63, Breda
Postal address: 4800 RA

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