Postdoctoral Research Fellow – Bi Lab

University of British Columbia


Job Category

Faculty Non Bargaining

Job Profile

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Job Title

Postdoctoral Research Fellow – Bi Lab


Bi,Xiaotao Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering Faculty of Applied Science

Compensation Range

$1.00 – $500,000.00 CAD Monthly

Posting End Date

February 18, 2023

Note: Applications will be accepted until 11:59 PM on the day prior to the Posting End Date above.
Job End Date

Feb 27, 2024

Post-Doctoral Fellow Job Openings on Fluidized Bed Thermochemical Conversion of Biomass
The Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at the University of British Columbia (UBC) invites applications for two Postdoctoral Fellow (PDF) positions supervised by Professor Xiaotao Bi. The PDF positions will be located at UBC’s Vancouver campus.
Project background:
There are two projects on biomass thermochemical conversions in fluidized bed systems. The overall objective of the first project is to test and validate a pilot steam-oxygen two-stage fluidized bed gasifier, prototype syngas clean-up fixed bed reactors, water-gas shift reactor and two-stage methanation reactors. The whole system converts woody biomass residues to clean syngas and Renewable Natural Gas (RNG). The candidate will focus on developing a mathematical reactor model to simulate the performance of this gasifier, thus facilitating the exploration of optimum operating conditions. At the same time, the candidate will participate in the test of the pilot gasification plant. Furthermore, a techno-economic assessment will be conducted to assess the economic feasibility of a commercial gasification system for clean syngas and RNG production in a pulp and paper mill for internal use in lime kilns or for export.
This gasifier is designed and built by a UBC team at the Fluidization Research Centre. At the first stage, a bubbling fluidized bed (BFB) is operated as a pyrolyzer with steam or steam/oxygen mixture as the gas agent. Then, the riser as the second stage is operated as an oxygen-steam blown gasifier in which the fast fluidization state is maintained. Different types of biomass feedstock from British Columbia are being tested in this system, such as wood pellets and hog fuels from sawmills and pulp and paper mills. In addition to the validation of the design, the effects of key operating parameters on the quality of syngas and tar formation will be experimentally investigated. However, considering the pilot test is time-consuming and capital-intensive, a more comprehensive parametric study relies on the simulation and analysis work, which could also help translate pilot test knowledge to the design and operation of commercial plants.
The objective of the second project is to conduct pyrolysis/gasification tests of different types of textile wastes and their mixtures, at different reaction temperatures, in a laboratory unit to identify suitable technologies for thermochemical cycling of waste textile. The gas, liquid and solids products will be analyzed in terms of their compositions and physical/chemical properties. Meanwhile, Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and Techno-Economic Assessment (TEA) of the thermochemical recycling pathways based on the laboratory test data and literature data will be carried out to assess the environmental benefits and economic feasibility.
A bench-scale microwave pyrolysis reactor and a TGA in our group will be used for this project. The microwave reactor unit was composed of six sub-systems: microwave generator and reactor system, microwave leakage detection system, vapor condensation and ventilation system, water cooling system, inert gas purging system and temperature-power control system. In this project, the most common textile types will be investigated – polyester and cotton as pure materials, as well as mixtures of blended garment. Besides the general characterization, thermogravimetric analysis (TGA) will be conducted to determine the weight loss kinetics and composition of products.
Qualifications of applicant:
  • Have completed a relevant Ph.D. (e.g., in Chemical Engineering, Thermal Engineering or Environmental Engineering) within the last 5 years.
  • Be highly motivated, organized, a good communicator (written and verbal).
  • Thrive in a team environment.
  • Experience with clean energy and bioenergy research, development and applications
How to Apply:
Please apply through Workday and attach the following document as a single PDF
  • Cover Letter
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Copies of two relevant publications
  • Contact information for at least 3 referees
Review of applications will begin on February 23, 2023 and continue until the position is filled
For the first project:
  • Developing an integral mathematical model, which consists of a bubbling bed reactor model for biomass pyrolysis in the first stage and a fast fluidized bed reactor model for char and vapor gasification in the second stage.
  • Designing and conducting chemical kinetics experiments in TGA (thermogravimetry), fixed-bed, or bubbling bed units to investigate the devolatilization/pyrolysis and gasification characteristics of selected types of feedstock. The obtained chemical kinetics are also essential input parameters of the model.
  • Using the experimental data collected from the pilot unit for model parameter adjustment and model verification.
  • Carrying out the comprehensive parametric study by applying the verified model to improve the current design and operation of the pilot plant. Furthermore, the model will be applied to assist the design and operation of commercial gasification reactors.
  • Assist in the experimental tests of a pilot-scale fluidized bed biomass gasification system with teammates.
For the second project:
  • A systematic review of literature on thermochemical recycling research and technologies on waste textile
  • Laboratory tests using a TGA and a bench-top 1 kw microwave reactor on pyrolysis and gasification of different types of textile wastes and their mixtures, at different reaction temperatures. The gas, liquid and solids products will be analyzed in terms of their compositions and physical/chemical properties.
  • A Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and Techno-Economic Assessment (TEA) of the thermochemical recycling pathways based on the laboratory test data and literature data to assess the environmental benefits and economic feasibility of thermochemical recycling technologies for waste textiles
  • Scalability analysis of identified promising thermochemical processing technologies
For both projects:
  • Deliver clear and concise written and oral presentation of analysis, and internal/external reports.
  • Communicate with stakeholders within UBC and with external industry partners to update progress, receive guidance on new assignments and independently complete recurring assignments.
  • Prepare manuscripts for publications and present their work at national/international conferences.
Duration & Salary:
  • These two full-time PDF positions have an initial 1-year appointment, with the potential for renewal, subject to work performance and funding availability.
  • Salary will be commensurate with qualifications.
  • The anticipated start date is February 2023 or as soon as possible.
Please visit the Chemical and Biological Engineering Department website

for more information about our department and research.

Equity and diversity are essential to academic excellence. An open and diverse community fosters the inclusion of voices that have been underrepresented or discouraged. We encourage applications from members of groups that have been marginalized on any grounds enumerated under the B.C. Human Rights Code, including sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, racialization, disability, political belief, religion, marital or family status, age, and/or status as a First Nation, Metis, Inuit, or Indigenous person.
All qualified candidates are encouraged to apply; however, Canadians and permanent residents of Canada will be given priority.

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