Process Development and Integration

Key Facts

12 Academics
9 PDRAs
39 PhD Students

Selected funders

TSB
Unilever
EPSRC
EC

Work with

BP, Shell, Siemens, Unilever, Cameron, Nestle.


Research within this theme focuses on the development, design, operational and optimisation of chemical and biochemical processes.

Process development is based mainly in the state of the art large-scale experimental facilities in the James Chadwick Building. Significant industrial support for these process development activities comes from Unilever on processes related to various consumer products and Cameron on oil exploration. Other process development work is developing new processes for the production of biofuels. More >>

Research areas

  • Biorefinery engineering

    Biorefineries are a part of the mix of sustainable chemical and energy production in the 21st century. However, compared with the competition from oil refineries, biorefineries are in their infancy, Biorefineries must develop to overcome a double disadvantage relative to oil refineries, which benefit from lower feedstock prices and from highly efficient processes through extensive process integration. Cereal biorefineries are leading this development, giving issues in relation to food versus fuel which must be dealt with sensitively and sensibly, but also giving synergistic opportunities, and serving as a strategic step towards ligno-cellulosic biorefineries.

    The School is exploiting its unique combination of the Centre for Process Integration and the Satake Centre for Grain Process Engineering to apply and develop process integration approaches for cereal biorefineries and to identify opportunities for synergistic benefits between biorefineries and the food and feed industries. Thus, for example, biorefineries can serve to recover value from food industry wastes, while the integrated biorefinery context can allow production of novel food ingredients that would otherwise be too expensive, whilst enhancing the nutritional value of animal feed.

    Please contact one of the following academic staff for further details of current research activity: Colin Webb, Peter Martin, Kostas Theodoropoulos, James Winterburn, Ferda Mavituna, Seve Pandiella, Grant Campbell.

  • Pilot scale

    Manchester has been home to the UK's largest university chemical engineering pilot plant since the 1970s, and has been at the forefront of pilot scale research and scale-up methodologies throughout that time. The University of Manchester has recently invested in the new Chadwick pilot plant which will continue Manchester's leading role for decades to come. Capabilities include up to 15 m working height, flexible horizontal arrangements, heating and cooling utilities and capability contain ATEX environments. General facilities include tank mixing up to 3 m3 with a wide variety of impellers, 22 kW universal drive to power motors up to 30,000 rpm, 3 scales of inline Silverson rotor stator processors, 2 scales of dip in Silverson rotor stator processors, extensive mixing power measurement capabilities, 2 x P2000 and 1 x M3000 electrical/capacitive resistance tomography instruments with a variety of sensor designs. Specific pilot plant rigs include a three story integrated flash separator and sedimentation column, batch distillation, liquid ring pump, forth flotation cells, three tank control, 6 m absorption column and more. Rigs are integrated on a Siemens PCS7 distributed control system which includes a bespoke control room for whole pilot plant surveillance.

    Please contact one of the following staff for further details of current research activity:
     

  • Process operations
    • Refinery Optimisation
    • Refinery Scheduling
    • Reliability and maintenance
    • Batch Processing and Scheduling
    • Operability of Site Utility Systems

    Please contact one of the following academic staff for further details of current research activity: Robin Smith, Grant Campbell, Megan Jobson, Alastair Martin, Peter Martin, Seve Pandiella, Simon Perry, Thomas Rodgers, Kostas Theodoropoulos, Colin Webb, James Winterburn, Nan Zhang.

  • Emissions reduction
    • Water and Wastewater Minimisation
    • Distributed Effluent Treatment
    • Simultaneous Energy and Water Minimisation
    • Flue Gas Emission

    Please contact one of the following academic staff for further details of current research activity: Robin Smith, Grant Campbell, Megan Jobson, Alastair Martin, Peter Martin, Seve Pandiella, Simon Perry, Thomas Rodgers, Kostas Theodoropoulos, Colin Webb, James Winterburn, Nan Zhang.

  • Process tomography

    Manchester is the birthplace of electrical tomography and our research builds upon that reputation working with some of the world's leading chemical engineering companies.

    Tomography uses multipoint sampling to make measurements across three dimensional space. The comparative differences across the sampling nodes are in turn digitally processed, allowing real time analysis and feedback. The measurement system can use electrical impedance, electrical resistance, ultrasound, X-rays, or photon energy. It provides measurement where conventional monitoring instruments cannot be operated, due to either the nature of the containment or the process underway. Not only that, the results can produce on-line queryable three dimensional data and visual representations, allowing for a far greater degree of understanding of the process.

    Please contact one of the following academic staff for further details of current research activity:
     

  • Energy efficiency
  • Multiphase processing

    Transporting and transforming multiphase materials are common requirements of modern chemical engineering. Granular flows, suspensions, sedimentation, rising bubbles all continue to present challenges to engineers. Often physical transformations are coupled to chemical, biochemical or biological processes and these must be considered together which adds considerable complexity. For instance, emulsification of oil fed to bioreactors may be driven by surface active compounds excreted by the organisms.

    Please contact one of the following academic staff for further details of current research activity:
     

  • Efficient use of raw materials
  • Structured fluids
    Centre for Advances in Structured Liquid Engineering (CASTLE)

    CASTLE was launched as a collaboration with Unilever in 2006 to establish and maintain an environment in which new process strategies and equipment concepts for the manufacture of structured liquids can be generated, rapidly evaluated and commercialised:

    • High performance, multi-disciplinary, highly interactive, project teams.
    • Leading edge experimental facilities.
    • International network of world class individuals, groups and facilities.
    • Mutually beneficial, long term relationship through research, the licensing of technologies, the training and transfer of staff, and industrial counsel.

    Scientific challenges addressed by CASTLE include:

    • Description of macro-scale properties based on the characteristics of the microstructure.
    • Flow of liquids of complex rheology in high intensity processing equipment.
    • Instrumentation to probe evolution of microstructure on time scales characteristic of process equipment.
    • Methodologies and models for scale up of manufacturing processes for structured liquids.
    • Design for manufacture of novel microstructures with functional superiority.
    • The exploration of extremes in process space to develop innovative processing solutions.
    • Design of manufacturing processes to meet new supply chain paradigms.

    A funding base of more than £1M has been achieved. Active collaborative links to external partners nationally (Prof A Pacek, Birmingham) and internationally (Prof J Baldyga, Warsaw University of Technology) and experimental campaigns by staff from these collaborating research groups. A stream of high quality peer-reviewed publications has been established.

    Please contact one of the following lead academics for further details of current research activity: Peter Martin, Thomas Rodgers.

Research degrees

We offer postgraduate research PhD, MPhil, MSc by Research, and EngD programmes. Read More >>

View the current funded studentships for PhD study within the School.

The School also has a number of funded scholarships linked to specific research projects.

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