Research challenges

The challenge areas described here are global in nature and require multidisciplinary skill-sets to address them. Chemical engineering has an important role to play in tacking these problems ranging from fundamental chemical engineering science approaches to more practical applications of the discipline. The School currently plays a key role in each of these challenge areas.


Access to a plentiful supply of cheap, clean energy, along with a need to minimize impact on our environment, are amongst the foremost challenges of the 21st century.

Chemical and biochemical processes are used for energy conversion - from hydrocarbons to cleaner fuels, from heat to power, from biomass to biofuels, for nuclear power generation and nuclear fuel recycling - and also consume significant amounts of energy.

Research in the School of Chemical Engineering and Analytical Science is developing and optimizing novel materials and conversion processes, such as in fuel cells and redox flow batteries, effective processing pathways to produce sustainable biofuels and biochemicals, and new methodologies for design and optimisation of integrated chemical and biochemical processes Read more >>

Food and Nutrition

Food and Nutrition

The combined pressures of a growing population and improved living standards in the developing world means that there is a greater demand for food production and processing that are water-, land- and energy-efficient.

Chemical engineers are addressing these challenges by applying scientific and engineering solutions to food production, in terms of improved processing for quality enhancement and energy reduction, within a systems view that clarifies how food interacts with other aspects of human activity and endeavour. Read more >>

Life and Health

Health and Well-being

Chemical engineering processes support the design and manufacture of a wide range of materials that make durable and safe homes, consumer goods and other lifestyle products. Sustainability is key to progress in this area. Industrial design should evolve sustainably so that efficiency is improved and ecological footprints reduced.

Research in the School is focused on the application of Life cycle analysis (LCA) in order to map energy, water and resource use. Further research relates to the process development of healthcare products and the processing of structured liquids in general as well as supporting research for the pharmaceutical industry. Read more >>



Water is fundamental to life but it is a limited resource. Ensuring that people have access to clean water is a major global challenge requiring chemical engineering input.

Research in the School of Chemical Engineering and Analytical Science focuses on the development of new methodologies and techniques to clean-up waste water from a variety of sources, as well as modelling waste water treatment works and researching into new approaches for continuous monitoring of water quality. Read more >>

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