Participate in process development research and development (R&D) activities within the National Bioenergy Center by performing and providing general support for various laboratory and pilot-scale biomass conversion experiments. The successful candidate is capable of: 1) setting up pilot- and laboratory-scale experimental equipment and conducting experiments according to guidance from supervising staff; 2) independently operating supporting laboratory and pilot plant experimental equipment and systems; 3) performing all work in accordance with NREL's stringent safety and environmental standards; and 4) promoting a safe and supportive workplace and a culture of continuous improvement.
Work under limited supervision to advance and validate the performance of integrated processes for converting lignocellulosic biomass (fibrous plant materials) to liquid transportation fuels by performing experiments at the bench, mini-pilot, and/or pilot scales. Participate with researchers of diverse backgrounds (microbiologists, chemists, biochemists, engineers, and technicians) in small and large multi-disciplinary project teams investigating and integrating a variety of prospective biomass conversion unit operations such as biomass pretreatment, hydrolysate conditioning, enzymatic hydrolysis, hydrolysate clean up and concentration, mixed sugar biological conversion, solid residue recovery, process water recycle and related biorefining conversion and separation operations. At times, shift work may be required. Responsibilities require strict adherence to NREL’s environmental, safety and health policies and procedures, including vigilance to working safely and promoting a safe and supportive workplace environment.
Specific duties include:
• Operate large and small high pressure (50-300 psig) reactors.
• Operate large and small (1 - 9000 liter) stirred tank bioreactors
• Operate other supporting pilot plant equipment such as centrifuges, evaporators, filtration devices, and pumps.
• Install mechanical equipment and systems and calibrate sensors (temperature, pressure, flow meters, etc).
• Prepare chemical solutions and chemical reactor and bioreactor vessels for experiments.
• Perform preventative maintenance on equipment and experimental systems, as assigned.
• Collect, prepare, perform and document routine analyses of solid and liquid chemical samples (moisture content, glucose concentration, etc).
• Input experimental measurements and process data into electronic spreadsheets.
• Write operating and lockout/tagout procedures as needed
• Keep work areas and tools clean, well organized and in safe operating condition; contribute to maintaining an inventory of required tools, parts, and other experimental supplies.
Required Education and Experience
High School Diploma or equivalent and 7 or more years of experience or equivalent relevant education/experience.
Or, relevant Associate's Degree or certification program of comparable scope and 5 or more years of experience or equivalent relevant education/experience.
Required Knowledge, Skills and Attributes
Full knowledge of specialized focused support functions. Complete acquaintance with and understanding of the general and detailed aspects of the supported activities, and their practical applications to problems and situations ordinarily encountered.
Proficient in research techniques and practices. Solid communication, interpersonal, project management and customer relations skills.
Additional Required Knowledge, Skills and Attributes
• A minimum of 2 years experience working with relevant mechanical, electrical and/or analytical equipment in a pilot plant environment.
• Demonstrated experience operating process equipment and systems and safely handling industrial chemicals.
• Basic ability to communicate with email and to work with computer spreadsheet and word processing software such as Microsoft Excel™ and Word™.
• Effective, adaptable learner and communicator.
• Demonstrated ability to function in a team environment interacting with diverse types of engineers, scientist, and technicians.
• Ten years experience independently operating pilot plant equipment and/or process R&D systems.
• Experience leading/managing small projects or a group of technicians/operators running a complex system requiring multiple operators.
• Experience and interest in mentoring junior staff and leading/coordinating the daily activities of junior staff.
• Demonstrated ability to assemble, repair and troubleshoot a wide variety of mechanical equipment.
• Knowledge of instrument systems (temperature, pressure, flow, etc.) and calibration requirements, including experience maintaining calibration records.
• General laboratory and microbiologist technician skills, including ability to set-up and operate lab equipment, prepare raw materials and chemical reagents, and aseptically perform laboratory experiment sampling, record-keeping and data entry.
• Demonstrated history of abiding by and promoting safe work practices and continuous improvement in operational situations.
• Experience designing, installing and troubleshooting chemical process equipment and piping layouts.
• Good oral and written communication skills.
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