Process Intensification

Process intensification is the philosophy that processes can often be made smaller, more efficient and safer using new process technologies and techniques, resulting in order of magnitude reductions in the size of process equipment. This leads to substantial capital cost savings, and often running cost savings too.

Key words: process intensification, reaction engineering

The Process Intensification group within CEAM consists of 8 members of staff:

Plus 10 research associates and 28 research students.

The group’s research income since 2008 is over £8 million, from a diverse range of funders including EPSRC, EU, TSB, DEFRA and The Carbon Trust. Notable grants include an EPSRC Platform grant, involvement in 2 Supergen projects and an ERC Advanced Grant. Furthermore, the group is active in a number of areas of EPSRC’s recently-established Catalysis Research Hub.

Achievements (since 2008)

  • > 30 PhD students have graduated from the group
  • > 15 PDRAs
  • > 130 publications
  • > 2500 citations
  • > 50 invited talks
  • > 20 visiting researchers

Prizes:  Reay and Harvey, IChemE Brennan Medal 2008


Process Intensification Laboratory

The Process Intensification Laboratory has spinning disc reactors (SDRs), rotating packed beds (RPBs) and oscillatory baffled reactors (OBRs) at various sizes, from laboratory to pilot plant scale in a range of self-contained “pods”. Oscillation Diagram - NetflowThey are used to investigate a diverse range of processes, including: polymerisations, fermentations, crystallizations, heterogeneously catalysed reactions and a range of liquid phase organic reactions.

Numerous “mesoscale” oscillatory baffled reactors of ~5mm diameter for rapid process screening and the determination of reaction kinetic information

A number of novel 1.0L autoclavable Batch Oscillatory Baffled Bioreactors (BOBBs) have also been developed.

Analytical Facilities: digital microscope, HPLC, GC, GC-MS, TGA/DTA, DSC, ReactIR, GPC, Cold Filter Plugging Point, Bomb Calorimeter, rheometry.

Gas-solid Reactions Laboratory

We have a state of the art lab for investigating gas-solid reactions. Emphasis is placed on surface reactions and solid-state diffusion; application fields include membrane and chemical looping processes. Facilities include a range of rigs for making flux measurements and investigating novel membrane-based processes. We also have a Hiden Catlab for the evaluation of powders as potential membrane and chemical looping materials. Pulsed isotopic exchange of oxygen can be used to gain more information about surface redox processes.

A range of gas phase analytical instruments are available including gas chromatographs, mass spectrometers, hygrometers, NOx analyser and online NDIR. BET is available. A medium pressure Rubotherm TGA is currently being ordered to complement these facilities.

Pilot/larger scale Equipment

A pilot-scale rotating packed bed (RPB) to investigate intensification of CO2 sequestration. Various continuous Oscillatory Baffled Reactors at ~2.0 L scale (25mm x 3.8m) & similar.

A biomass boiler situated at the University Farm

Laboratory Chemicals