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Research Group: Process Intensification

Research Group: Process Intensification

Innovation in equipment design and process synthesis.

We are reducing the impact of process technology in chemical plants.

Process Intensification makes dramatic reductions in the size of unit operations within chemical plants.

ICI pioneered the concept in the late 1970s. At that time, the primary goal was to reduce the capital cost of production systems.

The main plant items involved in the process include reactors, heat exchangers, and separators. But they only contribute around 20% of the cost of a given plant. Installation costs make up the balance. These include pipework, structural support, civil engineering, and so on.

Process Intensification student

Our research

We work across all areas of process intensification in chemical engineering. Our research activities include:

  • oscillatory baffled reactors (OBRs)
  • biodiesel and biofuel production
  • spinning disc reactors
  • polymerisation
  • nanoparticle production
  • crystallisation
  • organic catalysis
  • High-G separation technology (rotating packed beds)
  • CO2 sequestration
  • pyrolysis and gasification
  • plasma reactors
  • intensified bioreactors
  • microreactors
  • compact heat exchangers
  • heat pipes
  • catalytic plate reactors
  • fluidic oscillators
  • materials structuring
  • carrier-mediated separations
  • membrane modules/reactors
  • high shear mixing devices (eg Taylor-Couette reactors)
  • tissue engineering and in vitro organ engineering

Industry applications

A major reduction of equipment size is often coupled with integration of equipment function. For example, we can combine:

  • reactors with heat exchangers, or
  • condensers with distillation equipment and re-boilers

This can generate significant cost savings. It eliminates support structure, expensive column foundations, and long pipe runs.

We have developed novel approaches to equipment design and process synthesis. We miniaturise process plants, making them environmentally friendly. Miniaturised plants are flexible in their manufacturing capabilities. They provide rapid response to market demand.

Our work has applications in many industries:

  • from fine chemicals, polymers, and food
  • to bio-medical, medical, and offshore
  • to pharmaceuticals, electronics, transport, and energy

Our networks

Process Intensification Network (PIN)

Membership of the Process Intensification Network is open to all interested parties. It is open to individuals as well as organisations, regardless of size. Companies, research laboratories, and academic institutions belong to the network. We welcome all who see benefits from taking part. Our interests lead to further development, use and exploitation of process intensification.

PIN is a bridge between academia and industry. Its principal roles include technology transfer, education and promotion of awareness.

Our current membership is about 350. Around 50% are from industry. The balance is divided between research institutes and Universities. A large proportion of members are from overseas, predominantly from Continental Europe.

We hold annual meetings at various locations around Europe.

Find out more about the Process Intensification Network

Heat EXchanger Action Group (HEXAG)

HEXAG is a group of organisations with an interest in heat exchangers. Members are:

  • involved in the manufacture and use of heat exchangers
  • interested in the development of heat exchanger technology

There are some 300 members from a range of organisations.

We provide a regular forum for the interchange of information on all aspects of advances in heat exchanger technology. This encourages collaboration between manufacturers, users and researchers in developing advanced exchangers. It also helps to stimulate the industrial use of the technology.

The group provides industry with information. This enables informed decision making on:

  • supporting development activities
  • the application of advanced exchangers

The group contacts members through regular meetings, the newsletter, and a newsgroup. Meetings usually coincide with the annual PIN meetings, forming a two-day event.

Our grants

Live projects

Project title

Investigators

Duration

Value (£k)

Awarding Body

Reducing Combustion Particulates using Plasma Ionisation

AP Harvey

May 2019 - May 2020

50

Northern Accelerator

Catalytic Treatment of Wastewater

AP Harvey

May 2019 - May 2020

75

EPSRC Catalysis Research hub

CHARMING - European Training Network for Chemical Engineering Immersive Learning

J Glassey
F Russo Abegao

2019 - 2021

505

EU H2020 Marie Sklodowska-Curie

Combustion Particulate Mitigation Device

AP Harvey
K Zhang

2017 - March 2020

75

Impact Acceleration Award

Development of a Physical Computing Higher Education Toolbox for Engineering and Science Students

F Russo Abegao
C O'Malley
R Law

2018 - 2019

10

ULTSEC

Oscyme

AP Harvey
AN Phan

Feb 2017 - Nov 2019

32

Austrian Research Promotion Agency

Novel adsorbents applied to integrated energy-efficient industrial CO2 capture

DA Reay
V Zivkovic

2016 - Jan 2020

985

EPSRC

Sustainable Polymers

AP Harvey

2014 - 2019

412
(Total: £2.9 million)

EPSRC

Completed projects: from 2014

 

Project title

Investigators

Duration

Value (£k)

Awarding Body

Learning from trees: study of PM capture mechanism, and development of a new bio-inspired approach t solve emission problems

S Wang
AP Harvey

2016 - 2017

24

IfS
Newcastle University

IbD: Intensified by Design

KVK Boodhoo
DA Reay

2015 - 2018

€639
(Total: €10 million)>

EU (Horizon 2020)

Conversion of biomass into superior electrode materials for energy storage applications

A Phan
F Russo Abegao

Oct 2016 - Jul 2017

10

International Partnership Fund

Supergen Bioenergy

AP Harvey

2012 - 2017

286

EPSRC

Process intensification of biodiesel production from microalgae

F Russo Abegao
JGM Lee

Aug 2016 - Jan 2017

30
(Total: £50k)

SHARE Sandpit Award, SuperGen Bioenergy Hub

Rational Catalyst Development

M von Stosch
F Russo Abegao

2016 (6 months)

10

IfS
Newcastle University

Development of new cooling technologies for high power electronics

R Law

2016 (6 months)

10

IfS
Newcastle University

Cleaning Land for Wealth (CL4W)

AP Harvey

2013 - 2016

400

EPSRC

Evaluation of process intensification on early development or retrofitting existing processes for green sustainability benefits (PDF: 209KB)

KVK Boodhoo

2013 - 2016

115

EDB (Singapore)
GSK (Singapore)

Integrated process for conversion of CO2 into value-added products

V Eze

2016 (6 months)

10

IfS
Newcastle University

RenewX

AP Harvey

2013 - 2016

300

EU

Process intensification in the water industry

AP Harvey

2014 - 2015

30

UKWIR

IN-GROUND: Inexpensive monitoring of groundwater pollution in Urban African Districts

S Valesquez-Orta

2014 - 2015

135

NERC

Micromixing and Power Dissipation Characterisation of SDR

KVK Boodhoo

2014 - 2015

103.5

ISPT (Netherlands)

Biofuels from Algae by Ozoflotation

AP Harvey
S Valesquez-Orta

2012 - 2014

16

UNAM

 

Our publications

Books

PhD Opportunities

Find out about potential PhD projects with the Process Intensification research group.

Here are titles and details of potential PhD projects within our group. We also welcome candidates to bring along their own ideas for projects.

To apply in the first instance, you should email the relevant first supervisor. We will also be happy to discuss general enquires.

Most of these are not funded projects. Chances of funding vary with nationality.

  • UK students: Full funding for UK students is available but spaces are limited
  • EU students: Payment of fees is available but spaces are limited
  • Non-EU students should have an idea of a source of funding for your studies, usually your own government

You may be eligible to apply for a variety of studentships:

Teaching

Taught Programmes

From day one, our Chemical Engineering Undergraduate Programmes give students a path to become a professional engineer addressing major global challenges.

Our Postgraduate Taught (MSc) Courses equip students with the advanced skills and expertise to help shape the world. 

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