The School of Chemical Engineering has a strong research team that is focused on solving problems and providing answers for industry and the wider community. Research is principally in the areas of:
- Biochemical Engineering
- Energy and the Environment
- Chemical Kinetics & Reaction Engineering
- Fluid & Particle Mechanics
- Process Systems Engineering
- Laser Diagnostics & Combustion Engineering
- Micro-algal Biotechnology
- Materials in Energy and Catalysis
Activities in this area fall into two major areas: Design of processing system disinfection for the elimination of contaminating micro-organisms, e.g. sterilisation and chilling and freezing operations with emphasis on the kinetic modelling of micro-organism behaviour. Design, modelling and simulation of processing systems for the production of recombinant proteins from genetically engineered micro-organisms and for the production of non-specific growth factors from by-product cheese whey.
Energy is fundamental to our industrial society but its generation and use is a major cause of greenhouse gas and other pollutant emissions. The Energy Group's focus is on improving combustion and related technologies to reduce these emissions.
Investigations in this area ranged from laser studies of the reactions of silicon and germanium associated with micro-electronic component manufacture to studies in catalysis and the thermal pyrolysis, combustion and gasification of coal. Reaction Engineering studies of coal processing have important ramifications in the study of 'greenhouse' gas production in association with combined cycle power generation systems, catalytic decomposition of nitric oxide and engine exhaust clean-up.
Research projects undertaken in this area included numerical modelling and flow visualisation of time-dependent viscoplastic fluids in Couette and coating flows; development of a continuous flow rheometer for industrial slurries; dynamic settling of particles in a sheared fluid; effect of mechanical vibrations on settling behaviour of flocculated suspensions; and mechanics of phase inversion in liquid-liquid emulsions.
Process Systems Engineering is concerned with the development of a mathematical models (usually for representation in a computer) of the behaviour of chemical processes and their associated equipment. The principal objectives are usually concerned with technical and economic optimisation of such plant in the context of a standard industrial environment. A current major project is involved with the optimisation and retrofitting of process energy systems. Other projects in progress include the study of automated process operating command systems and the dynamic simulation of water treatment and biochemical engineering processes.
Laser diagnostic techniques have greatly contributed for our understanding of complex phenomena. Turbulent flow, gas combustion and Plasma are some examples of such complex systems. The Non-intrusive nature of the laser radiation allows precise probing, with high temporal and special resolution, without interfering with the flow. The department of Chemical Engineering has a well equipped laser diagnostics laboratory with several lasers and time gated cameras. Some of these lasers were custom designed to perform specific measurement. Several advanced diagnostics techniques and measurements have been tested and developed, these summarised by the following:
- Planar Laser Induced Fluorescence.
- Planar Laser Polarisation Spectroscopy
- Planar Laser Induced Incandescence
- Planar Velocity Measurement
- Planer Temperature Measurements
- Chemical Species concentration in reactive flows