Open PhD position: New nanostructured bio-based materials for high performance thermal insulation.

    CEMEF PhD thesis: New nanostructured bio-based materials for high performance thermal insulation

    Global objective of work

    The goal of this PhD project is to develop bio-based materials, bio-aerogels, with very low thermal conductivity using a combined approach of formulation (chemical physics of polysaccharides) and experimental and modelling of material thermal properties. The work will be based on a recently discovered in CEMEF bio-based aerogels with very promising thermal properties.


    Buildings use around 40% of the total energy consumption and generate 35% of total greenhouse gases. This is mainly linked to poor thermal insulation. Poor thermal insulation is also a problem for appliances and pipelines. To change this dramatic situation, high performance insulation materials are needed. The best commercial materials, such as mineral wool and expanded polystyrene, have conductivity between 0.030 and 0.035 W/(m.K). Apart from vacuum insulation panels, only aerogels are “intrinsically” thermal super-insulating materials at the atmospheric pressure (i.e. with thermal conductivity significantly below that of air, 0.025 W/(m.K)) due to their mesoporosity (pore size from 2 to 50 nm) and low density. In addition to material performance, low carbon footprint and “user-friendliness” are also very important factors to consider.

    Detailed presentation

    The work is at the frontier of polymer chemical physics, materials’ processing and understanding of thermal conductivity of porous materials. It will involve the use of various approaches and techniques such as formulation, thermal conductivity measurements, rheology, optical and electron microscopies, characterisation of solutions, gels and porous materials. A certain part of work will be devoted to the basic modelling of thermal conductivity properties.

    - C.RUDAZ, R. COURSON, L. BONNET, S. CALAS-ETIENNE, H. SALLEE and T. BUDTOVA, “Aeropectin: fully biomass-based mechanically strong and thermal super-insulating aerogel”, Biomacromolecules, 15, 2188−2195 (2014).
    - S. ZHAO, W. J. MALFAIT, A. DEMILECAMPS, Y. ZHANG, S.L BRUNNER, L. HUBER, P. TINGAUT, A. RIGACCI, T. BUDTOVA, M. M. KOEBEL, “Strong, Thermally Superinsulating, Biopolymer-Silica Aerogel Hybrids by Cogelation of Silicic Acid with Pectin”, Angewandte Chemie Intl Ed, 54 (48), 14282–14286 (2015)
    - G. MARKEVICIUS, R. LADJ, P. NIEMEYER, T. BUDTOVA, A. RIGACCI, “Ambient-dried thermal superinsulating monolithic silica-based aerogels with short cellulosic fibers” J. Material Science, 52, 2210–2221 (2017)
    - J. JAXEL, G. MARKEVICIUS, A. RIGACCI, T. BUDTOVA, “Thermal superinsulating silica aerogels reinforced with short man-made cellulose fibers” Composites: Part A 103, 113–121 (2017)
    - L. DRUEL, R. BARDL, W. VORWERG, T. BUDTOVA, “Starch aerogels: a member of the family of thermal super-insulating materials”, Biomacromolecules 18 (12), 4232–4239 (2017)
    - F. ZOU, T. BUDTOVA, “Polysaccharide-based aerogels for thermal insulation and superinsulation: an overview” Carbohydrate Polymers, 266, 118130 (2021)

    Candidate profile and skills

    polymers and/or materials’ engineering

    Apply to this PhD offer

    General informations

    • Industrial field: Mechanics and Materials
    • Location:Mines Paris-PSL, CEMEF, Sophia Antipolis
    • Keywords: Gels, bio-aerogels, polysaccharides, thermal conductivity of porous materials
    • Cooperation: This PhD project is funded by a doctoral contract from Mines Paris.
    • Duration: 3 years


    • Team: Group “Biobased Polymers and Composites” [BIO] and “Computational Solid Mechanics ” [CSM] (CEMEF) and group Materials and Processes for Energy (PERSEE)
    • Supervisors:
      - Tatiana Budtova (CEMEF)
      - Arnaud Rigacci (PERSEE)

    To apply

    • papers requiered to apply:
    • your most recent CV
    • Detailed, official proof of your grades during your most recent studies(maximum 3)
    • One or more references from professors or heads of training programmes

    Information! Application only on the CEMEF website.
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