Recognising excellence in chemical engineering research #ichemeawards

It’s Friday, and the final stage of our IChemE Global Awards winners round-up. We hope you’ve enjoyed the posts this week, and learnt a little more about each of our winners.

jr3c3118

Today we are shining a light on the research superstars of the Awards. IChemE has always maintained strong ties with the academic community, supporting the host of ChemEngDayUK each year and accrediting courses. We also do proactive work with our UK Research Committee, who last night launched ten chemical engineering research case studies that have had a significant impact on the UK economy. Read all about the research event, held in Parliament, here.

So, on to the winners and the final three IChemE Global Awards videos, produced in association with Morgan Sindall. All these winners have demonstrated fantastic research capability, but most importantly their studies have a real-world application that can really make a difference.

Enjoy these final three videos, and season’s greetings to all our members worldwide.

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Chemical engineering matters for the developing world #ichemeawards

Thanks for joining us for round two of our blog series, celebrating the very worthy winners of the IChemE Global Awards 2016. With help from our friends at Morgan Sindall we have produced a video for every category, and each one includes a special interview with the winners.

5j5a3100

Yesterday we looked at some life-changing products, and the theme remains the same in today’s post. However today’s products have a little something extra – they have been specially designed to help tackle a problem in low-middle income countries.

This goes to show that chemical engineering really does matter, and that the work of chemical engineers doesn’t just make our lives easier – it is solving some of the world’s biggest poverty issues.

Enjoy the three videos below, and stay tuned the rest of the week when we reveal even more winning projects.

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Five chemical engineering research stories from September 2016

To help you stay up-to-date with the latest achievements from the chemical engineering research community here is our monthly instalment with some of the latest stories.

September’s five stories of amazing chemical engineering research and innovation are:

The Popeye effect – powered by spinach

spinachPopeye was right; we can be powered by spinach! Researchers from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology have developed a bio-photo-electro-chemical (BPEC) cell that produces electricity and hydrogen from water using sunlight, using a simple membrane extract from spinach leaves. The article, publish in the journal Nature Communications, demonstrates the unique combination of a man-made BPEC cell and plant membranes, which absorb sunlight and convert it into a flow of electrons highly efficiently. The team hope that this paves the way for the development of new technologies for the creation of clean fuels from renewable sources. The raw material of the device is water, and its products are electric current, hydrogen and oxygen.

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Five chemical engineering research stories from July 2016

To help you stay up-to-date with the latest achievements from the chemical engineering research community here is our monthly installment with some of the latest stories.

Here are five stories of amazing chemical engineering research and innovation:

Making dirty water drinkable
glass of waterEngineers from Washington University in St. Louis have found a way to use graphene oxide sheets to transform dirty water into drinking water. “We hope that for countries where there is ample sunlight, such as India, you’ll be able to take some dirty water, evaporate it using our material, and collect fresh water,” said Srikanth Singamaneni, associate professor of mechanical engineering and materials science.

The new approach combines bacteria-produced cellulose and graphene oxide to form a bi-layered biofoam. “The properties of this foam material that we synthesized has characteristics that enhances solar energy harvesting. Thus, it is more effective in cleaning up water,” said Pratim Biswas, the Lucy and Stanley Lopata Professor and chair of the Department of Energy, Environmental and Chemical Engineering.

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Relevance in a Changing World

On 24 May 2016 at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre, Professor Jonathan Seville was inaugurated as IChemE President for 2016-17. The Executive Dean of Engineering at University of Surrey delivered his Presidential Address on the subject of relevance. Jonathan challenged us all to think: how will the Institution and the profession stay relevant in a world that is rapidly changing?

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Five chemical engineering research stories from May 2016

Since the end of ChemEng365 our ChemEngBlog has become a little quiet. To make sure you stay up-to-date with the latest achievements from the chemical engineering research community we will be providing you with monthly updates on some of the latest stories.

So here are five stories of amazing chemical engineering research and innovation:

Seven chemical separations to change the world

Floating energyDavid Sholl and Ryan Lively, chemical and biomolecular engineers, from the Georgia Institute of Technology, US, highlighted seven chemical separation processes that, if improved, would reap great global benefits. The list they have drawn up is not exhaustive (we are sure there are more we could add!) but includes; hydrocarbons from crude oil, uranium from seawater, alkenes from alkanes, greenhouse gases from dilute emissions, rare-earth metals from ores, benzene derivatives from each other, and trace contaminants from water.

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Guest blog: #WorldWaterDay

IChemE’s Special Interest Groups (SIGs) are an essential way for our members to share knowledge and collaborate on initiatives, which are of significance to their sector.

drop on water

Today is World Water Day, and our Water SIG is a hugely important part of providing expert advice and consultation to the innovations that could change our world. Water is essential to life, it must be sustainable or we cannot survive. Chemical engineers are an important part of making sure water provision is sufficient, clean, economical, and environmentally-friendly.

Chris Short, Chair of the IChemE Water SIG, explores in more detail the current challenges for the water sector in today’s blog post. Read on to hear his thoughts, and feel free to join the conversation on Twitter using #WorldWaterDay or by leaving a comment below:


chris-short

Name: Chris Short
Job: Consultant and Chartered Chemical Engineer
Company: Chris Short Water Quality (previously Yorkshire Water)
Special Interest Group: Water, Chairman

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Today is World Water Day, and I’ll be attending a conference in Leeds, UK, on Innovations in Wastewater Treatment. The focus will be on the recovery of value from wastewater and I expect to hear how leading-edge technologies are performing and what new processes are being evaluated by researchers.

This is exciting stuff.

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ChemEng makes the wheels go round

Photo Credit | Radu Razvan / Shutterstock.com

Photo Credit | Radu Razvan / Shutterstock.com

Over the last few years, cycling has seen a meteoric rise in both popularity and participation. Its most gruelling and testing competition, the Tour De France, drew to a close last month with another British victory.

So it seems quite apt to share how chemical engineering plays a part in this sport.

The phrase ‘chemical engineering in cycling’ may raise a few eyebrows. Indeed, some of the ways in which competitors have broken the rules can be – if you’re able to discount the morality of the outcome – seen as impressive feats of human engineering.

I’m sure you’ve heard of blood doping, where athletes improve their aerobic capacity and endurance through either one of the two following ways:

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Your ChemEng research round-up: June 2015

Since ChemEng365, our new ChemEng blog has become a little quiet – except for a last minute hurrah from Geoff Maitland, see his guest blog ‘Five of our Past President’s favourite ChemEng365 blogs‘.

lightbulbThe ChemEng365 campaign concluded at the end of May when Geoff’s term as president ended. But of course, all the amazing chemical engineering research and innovation still goes on. So, it seems only fitting to give you a research round-up on all things chemical and process engineering for the month of June – just in case you missed anything!

Injectable hydrogel could help wounds heal more quickly

A team of chemical engineers from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), US, have a developed a material that creates an instant, superior scaffold that allows new tissue to latch on and grow within the cavities formed between linked spheres of gel.

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A breath of fresh air (Day 351)

Chemical engineering has to be one of the most creative of all professions. We look for opportunities in everything, even in the air that surrounds us.

In the early 20th century, Carl von Linde pioneered the process of air separation, splitting air into its pure components. He developed a technique to obtain pure oxygen and nitrogen by means of fractional distillation from liquefied air.

Since then, air separation has been applied to many products we use every day. In February, I attended an IChemE event at the University of Surrey. During the event, I met Jama Salimov, an Advanced Process Control Engineer at Air Products. Jama was keen to shine a light on his work in air separation and ensure that we all understand its many applications.

liquid nitrogen

Liquid Nitrogen

Air separation typically separates air into its primary components – nitrogen and oxygen. However, it can also isolate some of the more rare parts of the air such as argon.

The products of air separation have a wide variety of uses in our everyday lives. Many of us use them without even realising it – and Jama was keen to tell me all about them.

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Solar sanitation solutions (Day 343)

ToiletThe World Health Organization (WHO) reports that  as many as 2.5 billion people around the world do not have access to adequate toilet facilities.

Poor sanitation results in contaminated drinking water and the spread of infectious diseases including Cholera and Dysentery, which cause severe diarrhoea, dehydration and if left untreated, death (see my blog, ‘Everyone should have a human right to water’).

Every year, around 1.5 million people – mostly children under five years old – die from diarrhoea. Drastic action is needed in order to make safe sanitation accessible to all.

Only last week, I observed that we sometimes have a tendency to take things for granted in the developed world. My blog, ‘Chemical engineer develops sanitary towels to help girls stay in school’ was well received and has prompted me to look at some other work by chemical engineers who are making a difference in the developing world.

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Putting the lab into the patient to improve chemotherapy success (Day 341)

The fight against cancer is ongoing and I have blogged about this before; see ‘Twin track cancer attack’ and ‘Fighting lung cancer with personalised medicine’. Each new discovery we make shines more light onto effective treatments.

Chemotherapy is a type of cancer treatment that uses one or more chemical substances to kill cancerous cells. It can be used in conjunction with other cancer treatments, or given alone. But as there are over 100 different chemotherapy drugs, our ability to prescribe the most effective drug to treat a particular tumour can be difficult.

MIT chemical engineers have designed an implantable device that can deliver many drugs at once, allowing researchers to determine which drugs are the most effective against a patient's tumor.

Picture Credit | MIT
MIT chemical engineers have designed an implantable device that can deliver many drugs at once, allowing researchers to determine which drugs are the most effective against a patient’s tumor.

A new device, developed by chemical engineers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), US, could provide a solution.

The device, which is about the same size as a grain of rice, is not swallowed or injected, but instead is implanted directly into a cancerous tumour, where it can directly administer small doses of up to 30 different drugs.

 

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Maple syrup magnifies antibiotic attack (Day 336)

maple syrupMost of the time, maple syrup is deliciously sloshed all over our pancakes.

However, a group of researchers at the Department of Chemical Engineering at McGill University, Canada (rather fitting given Canada’s love of the sticky stuff), have discovered another use for it.

Maple syrup can render bacteria more vulnerable to antibiotics.

The syrup, which is produced by concentrating the sap from North American maple trees, is a rich source of phenolic compounds with antioxidant properties.

And it is these antioxidant properties that prompted the team, led by Professor Nathalie Tufenkji, investigate the potential of maple syrup.

The team began by removing a concentrated extract from the syrup. They tested this extract on several infection-causing strains of bacteria, including E. coli and Proteus mirabilis (a common cause of urinary tract infection).

The syrup was mildly effective combating the bacteria on its own. However, once mixed with the antibiotics the maple syrup was particularly effective;  seemingly synchronising its assault with the pharmaceutical ingredient.

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Chemical engineer develops sanitary towels to help girls stay in school (Day 335)

Here in the UK and other developed countries, it’s all too easy to take some things for granted, such as access to education, to clean water and to sanitary facilities.

When we look at the developing world, it can be difficult to comprehend the challenges people face on a daily basis.

Photo Credit | Anton_Ivanov / Shutterstock.com

Photo Credit | Anton_Ivanov / Shutterstock.com

In Ethiopia, as many as 18 million young girls and women have no access to sanitary towels. This forces many young girls to drop out of school. But the good news is that one chemical engineer is trying to change that.

For most girls, their first menstrual cycle is awkward and embarrassing, but seen as a natural transition towards womanhood. However, in Ethiopia it can be an incredibly taboo subject. As a consequence, misinformation, negative beliefs and myths hold sway.

In the rural Tigray region of Ethiopia, where chemical engineer Freweini Mebrahtu grew up, young girls found out about their menstrual cycle through overheard rumour and myth; often leaving them shocked, confused and afraid.

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Sneaky shape-shifting molecule mimics DNA to trick viruses (Day 333)

Very few discoveries truly revolutionise the way we look at the world.

However, the discovery of the structure of DNA is one of them. And it was on this day in 1953, that the structure of DNA was published in the journal Nature.

dnaThis discovery is often seen as controversial, not due to its scientific content, but the fact that the work was largely attributed to one team; Watson and Crick.

This work was published at the same time in a number of papers in Nature by three teams: Watson and Crick; Wilkins, Stokes, and Wilson; and Franklin and Gosling.

The key break through for Watson and Crick’s work came from Rosalind Franklin who studied DNA using X-ray crystallography, but this was largely unacknowledged at the time. In 1962 Crick and Watson, along with Wilkins, received a Nobel Prize for their discovery. Rosalind had died four years earlier so was not eligible for a Nobel Prize.

So to ensure that we celebrate all their work today, I thought I would bring to your attention a recent innovation, which would not have been possible without this major discovery.

A team of scientists and engineers from the University of Chicago (UChicago) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), US, have developed a new spectroscopy method that could prove useful in developing the next generation of anti-viral treatments.

The team used synthetically designed shape-shifting molecules which are able to resemble natural DNA bases, but can convert into a different molecular structure by repositioning their hydrogen atoms on nitrogen and oxygen atoms.

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New drug approved to fight ovarian cancer (Day 317)

Now that we are in the home stretch of my presidency, I thought I’d look a little closer to home for examples of chemical engineering success. IChemE’s Corporate Partners are a great place to start.

AstraZeneca, a multinational pharmaceutical company employing around 57,000 people worldwide, were awarded Silver Corporate Partner status in 2011.

woman with cancerThey are one of only a handful of companies involved in every aspect of pharmaceutical production from start to finish; from research to supply. So next time you pick up a prescription, there’s a good chance that AstraZeneca might have been involved.

One of their latest drugs to be approved is Lynparza, which is prescribed to patients who have been diagnosed with a mutated form of ovarian cancer.

Over 7,000 women in the UK are diagnosed with ovarian cancer every year. It’s the fifth most common cancer among women, mainly affecting the over 50’s – although it can affect women of any age.

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Fighting skin cancer with a bracelet (Day 311)

Skin cancer is amongst the most common forms of cancers in the world with its highest incidence in Australia, New Zealand, the US and Europe.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that between two to three million non-melanoma and 132,000 melanoma skin cancers are diagnosed each year.

Dr David Hazafy

Photo Credit | Queen’s University Belfast
Dr David Hazafy

So researchers from the School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at Queen’s University Belfast, UK, have developed an early warning sunburn indicator that could tell sunbathers when to take to the shade.

The team, led by Dr David Hazafy, have developed a strip of plastic – containing ‘smart’ ink – which turns colourless from an initial blue colour to indicate a high exposure of ultraviolet light from the sun. This should prompt the user to move into the shade before burning, reducing the risk of skin cancer.

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Engineering hydrogels to treat spinal cord injury (Day 308)

Spinal cord injuries are extremely serious and the road to recovery is often a long one.

Two million people worldwide are affected by spinal cord problems that result in the loss of motor and sensory function below the point of injury, which can be devastating.

I’ve blogged previously about a team from Stanford University, which is working reduce the trauma of injections and improve the ‘healing help for spinal injuries‘. It’s an area where chemical engineers are making a difference. Here’s another great example.

Dr. -Ing Laura De Laporte

Photo Credit | Dr. -Ing Laura De Laporte

The European Union has awarded a 1.5 million Euro grant to a chemical engineer, Dr.-Ing Laura De Laporte, from DWI – Leibniz Institute for Interactive Materials to research an injectable hydrogel that will help spinal cord repair.

Laura’s research objective is to develop a minimally invasive therapy for spinal cord injury. She will do this by engineering a biomaterial in a project she calls ANISOGEL.

Her goal is to develop an injectable material with the potential to provide biochemical and physical guidance for regenerating nerves across an injury site.

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Blog leads to a breakthrough in antivenoms (Day 307)

Being a part of the blogosphere over the past 307 days has opened my eyes to how many of us bloggers are actually out there. So I was especially pleased to read today’s story about how blogging caused a scientific breakthrough.

Research into the innate immunity of opossums (marsupials found in the Americas) to a variety of snake venoms and their possible use to create antivenoms was first patented by Binie Ver Lipps in 1996.

Dr Claire Komives

Photo Credit | San Jose State University
Dr Claire Komives

However, this research went largely unnoticed. But Binie’s work was mentioned by a blogger in 2012. This led to an article being written on Yahoo!News, which was subsequently read by chemical engineering professor Dr Claire F. Komives.

Inspired by the story Claire and her team, from San Jose State University, US, demonstrated that genetically modified bacteria could produce the protective peptide at low costs.

This simple peptide could prevent countless deaths from snakebites and the antivenom relies on a sequence of just 11 amino acids, copied from an opossum protein.

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Smart bandage could save lives (Day 295)

When someone suffers a serious injury, timing can literally be a matter of life or death. Blood loss must be tackled immediately, but care must also be taken to prevent infection of the wound.

Chemical engineers working at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have developed a dual-function ‘smart bandage’ that could save lives, not only by stopping bleeding but also by preventing infection.

The bandage is designed to rapidly dispense a coagulating agent that stops bleeding and then slowly release an antibiotic to prevent infection. This work is published in the journal ACS Biomaterials Science and Engineering under the title: Multifunctional Self-Assembled Films for Rapid Hemostat and Sustained Anti-infective Delivery.

Professor Paula T. Hammond

Photo Credit | MIT
Professor Paula T. Hammond

The group developing these smart bandages is led by Professor Paula T. Hammond, the David H. Koch Chair Professor of Engineering in the Chemical Engineering Department at MIT. Paula suggests that the bandages might prove particularly effective in the treatment of wounded soldiers on the battlefield when a medic is not present.

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Suspending a liquid within a liquid, within a liquid… (Day 280)

When I read through scientific journals, the articles that grab my attention aren’t always the ones describing the most novel ideas. Sometimes it’s enough to just make something easier. That’s why today’s story appealed to me.

Many everyday products including medicines, beauty products and foodstuffs contain emulsions: liquids with tiny droplets of another liquid suspended within them (see my blog ‘food, glorious, food…emulsions‘).  A classic example that we all can create at home is vinaigrette (salad dressing), which is an emulsion of oil and vinegar.

MIT researchers designed these complex emulsions to change their configuration in response to stimuli, such as light, or the addition of a chemical surfactant.

Photo Credit | Christine Daniloff\MIT
MIT researchers designed these complex emulsions to change their configuration in response to stimuli, such as light, or the addition of a chemical surfactant.

Vinaigrette is a straightforward two component mixture. However, things get far more interesting when you suspend a liquid within a liquid, within a liquid. These complex emulsions (in this case a double emulsion) can be tailored for use in specific applications.

A team of chemists and chemical engineers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), US, have found a way to simplify the process of creating complex emulsions. Their method offers possibilities for rapid production at scale.

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Using a Nanopatch™ to vaccinate the world (Day 276)

detailed earthI’ve talked a good deal in recent posts about novel methods of drug delivery and vaccination (see ‘Making our bodies accept drugs faster’ and ‘Injecting from the instead’) however, today’s blog is about a product that is a step closer to being adopted world-wide.

The Nanopatch™, invented by Professor Mark Kendall, started life at the University of Queensland’s Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology.

Marks’s Nanopatch™ idea was to offer a needle-free method of drug delivery that could be widely used and increase vaccine efficacy.

In 2011 UniQuest, the University of Queensland’s commercialisation company, helped Mark found Vaxxas to advance the possibility of Nanopatch™ becoming a clinically-proven product.

Today, Vaxxas and Mark are getting closer to making that idea a reality by raising £12.7 million of funding for a series of clinical programs and the development of a pipeline of new vaccine products for major diseases.

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Helping our bodies accept drug implants (Day 273)

In recent years we have seen increasing interest in new approaches to drug delivery with greater focus on the efficiency and flexibility of the drugs we use.

robot pillThere are a variety of new methods available to help us do this (some of which I have blogged about before) including: jet injectors; micro-needles; ‘’Injecting’ from the inside’; ‘Using cellular backpacks to deliver drugs’; nano-patches and implants.

Interestingly, the recent Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering winner and chemical engineer Robert Langer has spent a good portion of his career looking at improving methods of drug delivery.

Today, I want to highlight a different approach; the use of implants as drug delivery devices. Implants offer several advantages over pills or injections, but often result in immune responses that hinder their performance.

A group of researchers from the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), in Bangalore, India, have developed a biodegradable polymer that acts as an anti-inflammatory agent and allows better acceptance of bio medical implants in the human body.

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Using your smartphone to sniff out disease (Day 271)

noseThe fight against disease is time dependent. The earlier the diagnosis, the greater the chance of survival.

Cutting-edge work, using smell as a means of disease detection, suggests that our smartphones may be the future of early diagnosis.

A research consortium lead by Professor Hossam Haick at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology is developing a device that, when linked to a smartphone, will be able to screen the user’s breath for the detection of life-threatening diseases.

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Stopping Alzheimer’s with beer? (Day 264)

I often find that you can’t pick up a newspaper or read a website without seeing the latest ‘super-food’ (I am reliably informed that last year it was kale).

beer on barSo imagine my surprise when I came across this story of chemical engineers using beer to help protect brain cells from damage.

Researchers from Lanzhou University, China, State Key Laboratory of Applied Organic Chemistry and College of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering have found that a compound (xanthohumol) contained in beer could help protect our brain cells from damage, and slow the development of degenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

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Chemical engineering matters of the heart (Day 263)

I would have to say that I am a bit of a cynic when it comes to Valentine’s Day, whilst it is important that we show our love for those in our lives, I wonder if we need a set day of the year to do so.

However, in view of the occasion, today I thought I’d go down a different route.

virtual image of heartThe focal point of Valentine’s Day is celebrating the human heart. And whilst I (and science) would dispute the fact that our emotions develop here rather than in the brain, the heart is symbolic on this day of the year.

Our heart however is a vital organ and when it goes wrong, the consequences can be drastic.

Chemical engineers have also been involved in this struggle, with a particular focus on the materials and flow involved in understanding how blood circulates through the heart.

And so today, I am using today’s blog to highlight the work of a few chemical engineers who are focused on making our hearts beat.

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The accidental biochemical engineer (Day 260)

As you can guess from the title of this blog, this entry isn’t about me. Today’s guest blog is by a fellow panellist at last year’s Chemical Engineers and the Media event, Dr. Tarit Mukhopadhyay, a lecturer at the department of biochemical engineering at University College London (UCL).

So enough from me, I’ll let Tarit explain his route into the world of biochemical engineering.

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TaritName: Dr. Tarit Mukhopadhyay
Job: Lecturer
Course: MEng, biochemical engineering, University College London
Graduated: 2002
Employer: Department of Biochemical Engineering, UCL

 

I didQuote startn’t originally plan on becoming a biochemical engineer. The main bulk of my applications through UCAS were to study medicine – my dad was a GP and perhaps it was an expected route for me to take.

But one of my applications was to study biochemical engineering and to be honest, at that time, I didn’t really know what it was. I chose biochemical over chemical engineering because I was more interested in the pharmaceutical aspect of the discipline.

At my UCAS interview, I felt as if I was being recruited. I don’t recall being asked a lot of questions, but instead being drawn into a world of ‘what if’. What if experimental procedures such as gene therapy or biofuels were successful? And how could I, as a biochemical engineer, be part of the solution?

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Painting by hedgehogs (Day 258)

HedgehogFor timid slow moving animals, hedgehogs and their relations are found all over Asia, Africa and Europe.

A few years ago they were the subject of a chemically-engineered joke when ‘Hedgehog Flavoured Crisps’ (potato chips) were sold in the UK.

Thankfully, no hedgehogs were hurt in their manufacture, but their taste (whatever that was) was mimicked using pork fat.

Now the hedgehog name has been used in the context of a new environmentally-friendly paint, and other applications.

University of Michigan researchers have developed a process that can sprout microscopic spikes on nearly any type of particle. They are called “hedgehog particles” due to their bushy appearance under the microscope.

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Robert Langer, chemical engineer, wins Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering (Day 253)

My aim in writing this blog has been to ensure the voice of chemical engineering is heard in all corners of the world.

Trophy

Photo Credit | Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering
Trophy

Yesterday was a breakthrough moment in terms of recognition, as Robert Langer – chemical engineer and professor from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, US – was awarded the second ever Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering.

Bob Langer’s achievement demonstrates the importance of chemical engineering on a truly global scale.  His pioneering work in drug delivery, tissue engineering and nanotechnology has touched the lives of billions of people.

He has developed a field that, quite simply, didn’t previously exist.  This highlights the most important role that chemical engineers play in society today – improving quality of life for all.

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Using cellular backpacks to deliver drugs (Day 241)

back packThe way we deliver treatments to our bodies can have a huge impact on how successful it is. Being able to target a specific area can make drug delivery more efficient and have a greater impact.

As engineers we are always looking for ways to simplify procedures and get the best for consumers.

Often the best lessons we can learn come from taking cues from systems that already exist in nature.

New research from the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has done just that by developing a method of targeting inflamed tissues with cellular backpacks.

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The ultra-biochemical engineers (Day 237)

Chemistry and TabletsI have talked before about the work of chemical engineers in pharmaceutical production and the important role they fill in scaling-up lab designed drugs to produce them in large numbers, for example ‘Designing future medicines – the work of the chemical engineer’.

However, biochemical engineers also play a key role in using small quantities of materials to identify the critical points of manufacturing in a technique called ultra-scale down.

Many pharmaceutical companies are now using this UCL (University College London) technology to speed up the time taken to produce new drugs, leading to big savings.

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