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.

Continue reading

Creating products to Goldilocks’ standard (Day 342)

goldilocksMost people, in the UK at least, will be familiar with the fairy tale of ‘Goldilocks and the Three Bears‘, where Goldilocks, a young girl, seeks out products that are not too strong and not too weak – aiming for ones that are ‘just right’.

This is the aim of chemical engineers who work on the development and delivery of consumer products. There is a strong focus on achieving a consistent outcome that the customer deems to be ‘just right’.

I recently attended a talk given by Professor David York, Chair of Structured Particulate Products, from the University of Leeds, UK, on how to convert commodities into high value components.

David described how science and engineering are applied to transform household detergents into higher value specialty products. He went on to explain how improved consumer satisfaction is being delivered by creating a washing product that leaves an appealing fragrance on freshly laundered clothes.

David and his team achieved this by creating a product that deposits perfume micro-capsules onto fabric during the wash cycle. The capsules subsequently fracture and release a pleasing odour in controlled doses.

Continue reading

‘Cross over’ engineer wins recognition with Geldart Medal (Day 309)

This year’s recipient of the Geldart Medal for a major contribution to research in particle technology has had such a long and distinguished career in chemical engineering, he hardly needs introduction.

colin thornton

Photo Credit | University of Birmingham Dr Colin Thornton

But perhaps not everyone knows that Dr Colin Thornton is actually a civil engineer.

Colin’s cross over to chemical engineering in 1984 was a great move. From that time he became a pioneer in the application of the Discrete Element Method (DEM) to problems in particle technology.

Colin soon realised that the crux of the matter lay in contact mechanics for particle interactions. At the time, there was little or no theoretical basis for describing elastoplastic and adhesive contact deformation.

Continue reading

Work hard, play hard (Day 269)

IChemE foam finger bus55 years ago, a chemical engineering professor with a passion for sport and a strong sense of fun initiated an annual football game between the chemical engineering departments at Birmingham and Manchester Universities in the UK.

That professor’s name was Frank Morton, and he had strong connections with both departments having taught in Birmingham where he rose to professor, before moving to Manchester as the first head of chemical engineering at the new Manchester College of Technology in 1956.

And his passion for fun lives on in the annual Frank Morton Sports Day

Frank was a firm believer in the principle that chemical engineering students should work hard and play hard. This year’s participants certainly didn’t let him down.

The 2015 Frank Morton Sports Day took place at Frank’s old stamping ground in Birmingham earlier this week, and had he been there to witness the event, I’m sure that he would have had a huge smile on his face.

Continue reading

How to best load a dishwasher, by a chemical engineer (Day 243)

Loading a dishwasher is one of those daily household chores that usually doesn’t involve too much thought; you pack the dishwasher with dirty crockery, remember to use detergent and then press the on button.

But there is more to loading a dishwasher than meets the eye as chemical engineers at the University of Birmingham, UK, in collaboration with industry, have conducted research on how best to load a dishwasher.

Dishwasher in between PEPT cameras. Image courtesy of Chemical Engineering Journal

Dishwasher in between PEPT cameras. Image courtesy of Chemical Engineering Journal

Dr. Raul Pérez-Mohedano, who led the project, published the group’s findings in the article, Positron Emission Particle Tracking (PEPT) for the analysis of water motion in domestic dishwasherfor Elsevier’s Chemical Engineering Journal.

The technique of Positron Emission Particle Tracking, developed at the University of Birmingham, was used to track and analyse the flow of water in the dishwasher through non-invasive 3D spatial detection of radioactively labelled particles i.e. tracers.

Continue reading

Blowing hot and cold (Day 235)

Hot and coldChemical engineers are responsible for much the world’s economic output in the form of goods and services consumed by industry and consumers.

In numbers, the world’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) looks something like this: £48,000,000,000,000 (US$75,000,000,000,000).

From a chemical engineering perspective, once those goods have left the factory gate or disappeared down a pipe, there might be a tendency to forget the enormous skill and energy to get these products to market – in the right condition.

The challenge is particularly acute for the distribution of food in countries with large and growing populations and has been highlighted recently by the University of Birmingham in the UK. Continue reading

Energy and the high street (Day 172)

Old Petrol station

Image: Chris Jenner, Shutterstock.com

Many consumers find the energy markets frustrating and, whichever country you live in, it is likely that the choice of where you get your gas or electricity from will be limited, even if provided by the private sector.

The most ubiquitous, successful and competitive model we currently have for ‘buying’ energy is the petrol station. The first makeshift ‘filling station’ appeared in 1888 in Germany. The first purpose-built ‘gas station’ was constructed in the USA in 1905.

Today, there’s in excess of a million petrol stations dotted around the world, and it is infrastructure on this scale, along with public acceptance, that are important enablers to the widespread adoption of any technology, especially energy.

Continue reading

Masters of the unusual job title (Day 91)

ChocolateThere was a great fun story in the media recently when Cambridge University announced they were looking for a ‘Doctor of Chocolate’.

Based in Cambridge University’s Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology, the ‘project will investigate the factors which allow chocolate, which has a melting point close to that of the human body, to remain solid and retain qualities sought by consumers when it is stored and sold in warm climates.’

Continue reading

Food, glorious, food…emulsions (Day 20)

Oil and WaterThey may not call themselves ‘chemical engineers’, but ‘process engineers’, ‘product engineers’, ‘process technologists’ [and a multitude of other job descriptions] are busily working away in the food industry to make the brands we know and love.

Producing tasty, safe, consistent, attractive, stable and value-for-money foods on a large scale is a remarkable achievement. Without those product values and others, glitzy marketing will always fail.

Continue reading