Student Profile

Arul

Chemical Engineering PhD

Course Dates: 2008 - 2011

What I did before

My first degree was an MEng in Chemical Engineering which I completed in 2008 at Imperial College, London. I started my PhD at Newcastle immediately after.

Why I chose Newcastle

I was offered a PhD at Imperial College where I had completed my MEng, but I decided to look for openings at other UK universities. The main reason I came to Newcastle University was to work with Ian (my current supervisor) as he is well known at Imperial College and many of the lecturers/students who had met him gave high recommendations.

My course

I am currently funded by EPSRC (UK) to carry out a three year PhD project to investigate hydrogen production by water splitting at high temperature using a novel process called chemical looping.

I found my PhD very challenging but at the same time I really enjoyed the independence, I had a lot of control over the direction of the project and used a lot of my own interpretation and judgement to choose subsequent experiments. It was also a great opportunity to attend and present at international conferences and set up collaborations with researchers at other universities.

Research I've done

The process I am currently investigating for hydrogen production was actually invented in 1903 and it is interesting to see how it has evolved over the last century.

Highlights

As a northerner I found my move from London to Newcastle very pleasant, the people here are very friendly and helpful. There are lots of bars, clubs, restaurants and various other forms of entertainment which should be able to cater for everyone.

Facilities

Our laboratory is huge, and contains equipment for membrane, catalytic and fuel cell work. Outside of the laboratory, we have all the useful material characterisation services including SEM, XRD and ICP. Newcastle University provides free workshops for all PhD students which involves training with many different softwares, oral/poster presentations, thesis writing, teaching etc. These workshops have been very useful.

Funding

I received a DTA award from the EPSRC to carry out my three year PhD.

The PG community

There are a lot of PhD students in our department working on very different subjects ranging from computer modelling to pilot scale reactors. Everyone is very friendly, and we usually end up spending time outside of university together. We also have a postgraduate committee who looks after the students and organises social events.

My future plans

I will be finishing my PhD in a few months and will be moving south to get a job in the industry.

My advice

For a PhD I would meet with the intended supervisor first and discuss the possible projects that you can undertake. I think doing a PhD is a great experience where you can really challenge yourself.

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