Research

Research in Chemical Engineering impacts an enormous range of industries, from foodstuffs to plastics and from water treatment to energy production.  Chemical engineers improve or create new processes that allow these products to be manufacturered in more efficient and cleaner, more sustainable, ways.  Research in our department includes both experimental and modelling work to address these challenges.

The Chemical Engineering department at the University of Chester is an exciting centre of state-of-the-art research cutting across traditional subject boundaries.  We have a track record of high-quality research cited by other researchers around the world.  There are eight academic members of staff and two PhD students conducting research that is published in high-impact journals and presented at international conferences.  Our laboratories host a number of industrial research projects and we have close links with additional companies on-site and nearby.  Close academic collaborations with researchers at universities around the country and abroad further enhance a stimulating and supportive research environment.

All students are taught by research-active staff who are keen to share their enthusiasm and specialist knowledge of Chemical Engineering with the next generation of talented engineers.  Students also benefit from opportunities to complete placements with our industrial partners and to use modern research equipment as part of their course.

Our research is grouped into a range of broad themes that allow us to help to address some of the challenges facing society and industry in the 21st century.

 

Sustainable Energy from Biomass and Wastes

We study the conversion of purpose-grown or residual biomass and other biogenic wastes either directly into electrical power and heat, or into synthetic liquid and gaseous fuels.  This involves the thermochemical pathways of combustion, gasification and pyrolysis as well as biological routes.  Experimental work is carried out on laboratory-scale units, and computational analysis performed at a range of levels including detailed flow modelling within reactors (CFD), process simulation of individual reactors through to full plants, and techno-economic analysis of complete energy delivery systems. 

Systems Biology of Ageing and Health

We study the biochemistry of ageing and health using computational modelling techniques.  The process of ageing is investigated in healthy individuals, with a focus on lipid metabolism.  We are also interested in cell signalling and gene expression, as well as epigenetics.  Stochastic modelling is used alongside solution of differential equations and the development of specialist computational tools for biological modelling.

Industrial radiant tube burner via CFD

Computational Fluid Dynamics

We are experienced in the application of computational fluid dynamics methods to the analysis of any fluid flow environment, but in particular the performance of furnaces and burners, gasifiers and other energy system reactors. Codes used include ANSYS-FLUENT and ANSYS-CFX. The image shows velocity contours and vectors inside an industrial radiant tube burner obtained with ANSYS-CFX as part of a project to improve burner performance undertaken for a major manufacturer.

Bioreactor from Virtual Process Lab

Leadership and Pedagogy in Engineering

Our research interests include the impact of cultural background on leadership and management practice within engineering organisations; effective knowledge management practices; and coaching and mentoring strategies in support of professional practice. Teaching and learning within higher education are another focus and, in partnership with the Informatics Centre at the University, we have developed the Virtual Process Lab as a tool for students to develop their understanding of chemical processes.

Computational Condensed Matter Physics

Our aim is to study nanoscale phenomena including properties related to defects at surfaces, charge transfer at interfaces, as well as charge and exciton transport in organic material by means of modelling from first-principles.  We are interested in developing and applying computational tools such as density functional theory and quantum Monte Carlo simulations.  In terms of applications our work is related to devices such as Organic Photovoltaics (OPVs) and Organic Light Emitting Diodes (OLEDs).

Carbon Capture, Utilisation and Storage (CUUS)

Our studies focus on technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere from the utilisation of fossil fuels and/or biomass in different industrial sectors. We analyse most common carbon capture technologies, such as post-combustion and oxy-combustion, and their potential commercial application. We are also interested in developing novel carbon capture processes, e.g. cryogenic separation. For more information about on-going projects, please visit our research group website.