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Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology

roz with her  diploma

Three degrees

Roz Williams, Head of the Laboratory Section, has been studying with the Open University over the last six years and has now succeeded in gaining an Honours Degree in Biological Sciences, with distinction.

Head of Department, Professor Howard Chase said, "This is an excellent achievement and a just reward for all the hard work she has put in."

Roz has been with the University for 20 years and has worked in the Department of Chemical Engineering for nearly 10 years. She already had a degree in Chemistry, but as the department has moved more towards Biochemical Engineering, she felt she needed to know more in that area and took up the challenge of studying with the OU as well as doing her full time job.

Through that study she attained a Diploma in Biological Sciences and then an Ordinary Degree, so she now has three degrees.

Laura Diaz Anadon has won a Section prize at a Special Reception for Britain's Top Younger Engineers at the House of Commons on December 6th, 2005.

It was a competition for young engineers doing research both in industry and in academia. It included all disciplines within engineering, i.e. electronic, civil, environmental, mechanical, etc. There was one first prize, worth £5,000, 4 section prizes worth £1,000 and five commendation prizes worth £500. The event was held in the Attlee Suite, Portcullis House, House of Commons and the sponsoring MP was Richard Page MP, Chairman of the Parliamentary & Scientific Committee. It was attended by various MPs and Lords who spoke with the young engineers.

Laura is a member of the Catalysis and Magnetic Resonance Group and she works on hydrodynamic transitions in trickle bed reactors using MRI.



The Danckwerts-Pergamon Prize is awarded by the Department each year for the best PhD dissertation on a subject connected with Chemical Engineering. The winner is chosen from those students who gained their PhDs in the preceding calendar year.

Kieren Hollingsworth is the winner of the Danckwerts-Pergamon Prize for 2004 for his dissertation Characterisation of emulsion systems using NMR methods. He was supervised by Mike Johns.

Kieren developed NMR methods to size emulsion droplets under flow, without any assumptions about the shape of their droplet-size distribution shape. These measurements can be made in under 4 seconds (previously it took 10 minutes), allowing dynamic studies of emulsification and coalescence. He applied these techniques to a variety of emulsion systems, including fundamental studies of droplet migration in shear fields using NMR-compatible rheological cells (Rheo-NMR).

Kieren currently works as a Post Doctoral Research Associate in the Department of Radiology, University of Cambridge and is a Research Fellow at Hughes Hall. His research appiles magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and spectroscopy to the non-invasive detection and measurement of liver diseases.

photo of Mark  and Salvatore

Prizes for first year research students

At the start of their 2nd year of research, research students are asked to give short presentations on their work so far and to prepare a poster.

On 26 October 2005 eleven students gave their presentations and the prize for the best work was given to Mark Sankey (on the left in the photo). The runner-up was Salvatore Mascia.

Mark's title was MRI of trickle-bed reactor hydrodynamics and he describes his project: The most common 3-phase reactor in industry is the trickle-bed reactor (TBR), used to generate products worth more than £500 billion per annum. It is a column filled with a fixed unstructured packing, often catalyst coated, over which liquid and gas phases flow co-currently downwards. At low flow-rates the bed operates in the trickle flow regime in which the liquid trickles over the surface of the solid. Our current understanding of TBRs is based on averaged properties; however, the local fluid flow distribution is spatially heterogeneous. The aims of the research are the following:
(1) To map local fluid velocities in a TBR;
(2) To use these techniques to improve our fundamental understanding of hydrodynamics in TBRs.
This would have great potential for TBR analysis and improvement: both theoretical, such as improving design equations, and practical, such as the selection of packing elements and loading procedures to promote mass transfer.

Salvatore's title was Liquid phase migration in microcrystalline cellulose pastes and he describes his project: My work is concerned with the deformation and flow of solid-liquid pastes. These highly-filled suspensions are widely used in the manufacturing of a wide range of products. The extrusion of pharmaceutical pastes is my main area of interest. I am using microcrystalline cellulose, a major pharmaceutical excipient, in various forms of soft solid.
Pastes demonstrate complicated rheology, as a result of their two phase nature. Rheological characterization becomes even more challenging when the phases flow differently. A particular example is liquid phase migration (LPM), also known as 'dewatering'. The different responses to stress and strain can result in maldistribution of the liquid and solid phases, leading to processing problems and inconsistency in the composition of the final product.
I am using both capillary and squeeze flow rheometers in order to evaluate these techniques, as well as to establish a guideline for rheological characterization of pastes. The other aims of my work are to study LPM in both squeeze flow (SF) and ram extrusion, and to relate the LPM mechanism to parameters such as process velocity, solids volume fraction, extrusion geometries and so on. A model which can predict the dewatering phenomenon is also being developed.
This work is sponsored by Cambridge European Trust, EPSRC and Powdermatrix Faraday.

Hinshelwood prize

Dr KaminskiDr Clemens Kaminski has won the 2005 Hinshelwood prize. The award is named after Cyril Hinshelwood who, together with Nikolay Semenov, received the 1956 Nobel prize in Chemistry for research into radical chain reactions.

The Hinshelwood prize is awarded by the British Section of the Combustion Institute for outstanding work by a younger researcher in combustion science.

Dr Kaminski received it for the development of laser based imaging techniques and their application to both fundamental and practical problems in combustion.

Charmaine and Sim

IChemE Particle Technology Subject Group Prize

Sim Cheah (on the right) and Charmaine Chua have won joint second prize in the MEng Research Project in Particle Technology 2004/5 competition run by the IChemE Particle Technology Subject Group.

Their project was entitled Flow of granular material in a rotating cylinder and they were supervised by Dr David Scott and Prof John Davidson. They will receive a prize of £100 each.

Gaydon Award

awards  			winners

Members of the laser analytics group have been awarded the Gaydon

Award for the most significant UK contribution to the 30th International Symposium on Combustion, held in Chicago in 2004.

The Symposium is the largest and most prestigious conference in the field and the prize went to Sara Gashi, Johan Hult, Karl Jenkins (Cranfield University), Nilan Chakraborty (Dept. of Engineering, Cambridge), Stewart Cant (Dept. of Engineering, Cambridge), and Clemens Kaminski for their paper entitled: Curvature and wrinkling of premixed flame kernels - comparisons of OH planar laser induced fluorescence data and direct numerical simulations, Proceedings of the Combustion Institute, vol. 30 (2005) 809-817.

The prize was awarded by the Combustion Institute (British Section) at the autumn meeting in Cambridge, on the 12th of September 2005.

Fox Prize and North Carolina State University Prize

Two prizes have been awarded to students who have just completed Part IIB of the Chemical Engineering course and who will now graduate with an MEng. The TRC Fox Prize was awarded to James McKenna and the North Carolina State University Prize was awarded to Richard Twohig.

The Fox Prize is awarded by the Part IIB Examiners of the Chemical Engineering Tripos to the candidate who has shown the greatest distinction in the examination. The North Carolina State University Prize is awarded by the Part IIB Examiners of the Chemical Engineering Tripos to the candidate who has shown distinction in the performance of original project work in the form of theoretical or experimental investigation.

Design project, 2005: prize for best presentation

the winners

Left to right: Richard Morrisby, Nahed Ahmed, Marytza Handal,
Paul Wilson, Chamindri Perera and Alex Foley

The Design Project is a major part of the coursework for Chemical Engineering students in their third year at Cambridge. The project involves the conceptual and process design of a whole plant and the brief for the Design Project for 2005 was to design a plant to produce bio-ethanol transport fuel, also known as Power Ethanol, from either wheat or sugar beet.

The students work on the project in groups of five or six and the exercise takes place over five weeks. During this time they cover all the important aspects of Chemical Engineering design: process flowsheet development, equipment sizing, control, economics, safety, environmental considerations and reporting/communication.

The project reports were handed in on 9 June 2005 and the presentations were given on the afternoon of Friday, 10 June. The winner of the prize for best presentation was Group C. They are pictured here with Bob Skelton on the left and Alan Stanford from the IChemE on the right. As Bob is to retire soon, this is the last year that he is responsible for running the Design Project.

Best Paper Award

Andy with his award  certificate

Andrew Rees with his certificate for best paper

Andrew Rees has won the 'Best Paper Award' at the 18th International Conference on Fluidized Bed Combustion. The conference was held in Toronto, Canada, on 23rd - 25th May 2005. The title of his paper was The Rise and Combustion of Sewage Sludge and Petroleum Coke in a Slugging Fluidized Bed. He is a member of the Combustion group, supervised by Dr. Dennis and advised by Profs. Davidson and Hayhurst.

The Fluidized Bed Combustion conference is a biennial event organised by The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) for the promotion and dissemination of research in fluidized bed engineering to the international research and development community. Andrew is currently in the third year of his PhD undertaking research into the mixing of refuse fuels in fluidized bed reactors. During the past two years he has developed an understanding of the buoyancy and rise of these fuels, which are typically characterised by low densities and high volatile fractions, within fluidized bed combustors operating in the little researched ‘slugging’ flow regime.

His research goals are centred around the following topics:

  • the development of slugging gas-fluidised beds for the combustion, pyrolysis or gasification of fuels containing large quantities of volatile material or moisture.
  • developing an understanding of the flow behaviour around either fixed or moving objects submerged within gas-fluidised beds.
  • the use of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) as a tool for characterising and quantifying the internal structure of fluidised beds.

Johnson Matthey Symposium on Catalytic Technology - Nottingham

Laura and  James

Congratulations go to Laura Diaz-Anadon who has won the best poster award for her research into Hydrodynamic Transitions Trickle Bed Reactors using MRI at a conference of over 100 students, academics and industrialists held in Nottingham from 5-7th April. At the same meeting, James McGregor shared the first prize for the best research presentation from a final year Ph.D. student with his talk on Tapered Element Oscillating Microbalance Studies of Adsorption and Hydrogenation of C5 Hydrocarbons on Heterogeneous Catalysts. The annual Symposium is an opportunity for students and academics associated with Johnson Matthey to meet and present developing research ideas at the forefront of catalytic technology. Laura was previously successful in coming runner-up in the department's 1st year poster-presentation competition and at the same competition at the end of his first year, James won the first prize.

Our Department is currently involved in two projects funded by Johnson Matthey: ATHENA and CARMAC.

ATHENA stands for Advanced Technology in Catalytic Chemistry and Engineering for Novel Applications and is a jointly funded project between industry and the EPSRC representing the quest for design, development and manufacturing of new catalysts and new catalytic processes having 100% selectivity as an intrinsic property.

CARMAC is an acronym for Controlling the Access of Reactant Molecules to Active Centres. The 5 year project aims to improve catalytic performance and selectivity through the application of chemistry and engineering from the scale of individual catalysts through to reactor systems. The project is collaboration between the EPSRC, industrial partners, and the Universities of Cambridge, Reading, Virginia and Queens’ Belfast.

Research project prize winners

Research projects are a major part of the coursework for Chemical Engineering students in their fourth year at Cambridge, leading to the MEng degree. On 7 March 2005, half of the class gave their presentations with the other half presenting on 14 March.

The prize winners at the research presentations on 7 March 2005 were:

Charmaine Chua and Sim Cheah for their project Flow of granular material in a rotating cylinder supervised by Dr David Scott and Prof John Davidson
Charmaine and  			Sim

The prize winners at the research presentations on 14 March 2005 were:

Anna Stephenson and Merlin Taylor for their project Microwave Induced Pyrolysis of Waste Streams supervised by Prof Howard Chase and Dr Carlos Ludlow-Palafox
Anna and Merlin

In second place, Richard Twohig and Sohaib Alzadjali, with Simulating Restricted Diffusion as measured using Magnetic Resonance supervised by Dr Mike Johns

Milan Patel - PowdermatriX prize winner

Milan at his  deskMilan Patel has won the Research Poster prize at the PowdermatriX Faraday Partnership Annual meeting in February, 2005. The meeting was held at Holywell Park, Loughborough and was attended by 120 delegates from industry and leading universities.

Milan's poster was titled Developing a Paste Formulation Criterion and described progress so far on his PhD project. The project involves developing fundamental understanding of a major problem during paste processing called liquid phase migration. Pastes in this context are liquid and particulate solid mixtures which are highly filled with solids, and are used in the manufacturing of everything from ceramic cores for turbine blades to washing powder tablets. During processing, pressure gradients develop across the paste, and the liquid in the paste may flow through the gaps between the solid particles under the action of these pressure gradients. Some areas of the paste become drier than average and some wetter. This ruins product homogeneity and quality, and if particularly severe, can damage the processing equipment if some areas of the paste become too dry and hard.

Pastes that are immune to his problem are developed mostly by experiment and experience. With further understanding of this problem, specifically in how changes in the formulation (recipe) of the paste affect the severity of phase migration, pastes can be better designed at the outset to avoid this problem.

Milan has been working on this project since October 2003. It is EPSRC funded, specifically under the PowdermatriX Faraday Partnership. The Faraday Partnerships are part of the EPSRC and are very keen on involving industry in research and transferring the results of research to them. They have an annual meeting where staff from all PowdermatriX funded projects are encouraged to attend and present a poster and presentation on their work. There was a best student poster prize and presentation prize. Milan received the former, which was a bottle of wine.

Milan is supervised by Dr Ian Wilson and his thesis will be called Theoretical aspects of paste formulation.

photo of Jasdeep

Jasdeep Singh - one of the 100 most influential students in Cambridge

Jasdeep Singh, a postgraduate student in the Department of Chemical Engineering, has been chosen to appear in The Talent List. The List is published each year by the Varsity student newspaper and aims to promote an insight into the activities of those members of the student body who have made a significant contribution to their area of interest.

Nominations were taken in several categories and as the President of Cambridge University Entrepreneurs in 2003-2004 and Chairman in 2004-2005, Jasdeep fell into the category Entrepreneurship.

His main achievements in these offices were:

  • Spearheaded Global Startup Workshop (GSW) with partner organization at MIT, which brought in 200 delegates from 37 countries. The objective of the workshop was to share the best practices in the Business Plan Competition and was the best GSW since its launch in 1998.
  • Started a new Business plan competition named "People, Planet, and Productivity", which in layman's terms is the "Green Entrepreneurship Competition" which encouraged Not for profit, Charity, and environmental friendly business ideas.
  • Cambridge University Entrepreneurs awarded £77,000 to the Business plan competition teams, making it the biggest sum given by a Business plan competition globally and which is run by the students.

Further information

Cambridge University Entrepreneurs
Varsity Online
Jasdeep is a member of the Computational Modelling Group headed by Dr Markus Kraft.

IChemE Fluids Mixing Competition 2005

photo of Sean with  			experimental apparatusSean McHugh has won the IChemE Fluid Mixing Competition held at the University of Birmingham on 11th February 2005. He will be giving his winning presentation, Multi-Phase Plumes: Mixing and Chemical Reaction, at the North American Mixing Forum (NAMF) Mixing 20 conference to be held on June 26-July 1, 2005; Parksville, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada.

plume Sean's work is concerned with the behaviour of multi-phase plumes in the presence of chemical reaction, with applications in CO2 sequestration.

Purposeful release of CO2 into the ocean may occur in attempts to sequester it and mitigate global climate change, whereas accidental release might occur if underground CO2 used in enhanced oil recovery or geological sequestration were to escape from reservoirs on the ocean floor. Concentrated, continuous release from either scenario would result in a rising plume of CO2 droplets or bubbles, which mixes with seawater, dissolves and can react to form solid particles of CO2 hydrates. Sean uses scaling analysis and experiements to define and map out regimes of CO2 mixing and dispersal for real-world ocean conditions. These demonstrate the relative importance of CO2 dissolution, reaction and stratification and how ambient conditions influence plume structure.

The laboratory work is funded by Royal Society Research Grant 23838 and Sean is supported by a Cambridge Gates Scholarship.

Sean is studying for a PhD at the Department of Chemical Engineering, Cambridge University and his supervisor is Dr Silvana Cardoso. Previous students of Dr Cardoso won the IChemE Fluid Mixing Competition in 2001 (Min Hsia Chen) and 2002 (Miranda Chow). 

Prizes for first year research students

photo of Richard and  			Laura

Richard Ellis and Laura Diaz-Anadon

At the start of their 2nd year of research, research students are asked to give short presentations on their work so far and to prepare a poster.

On 27 January 2005 eleven students gave their presentations and the prize for the best work was given to Richard Ellis. The runner-up was Laura Diaz-Anadon.

Richard's title was MRI and modelling studies of drying phenomena and he describes his project: The basis of my project is to investigate an industrially important drying process for a large food manufacturer. The aim is to use magnetic resonance imaging to observe the drying process under a range of conditions and use that data to develop a predictive model. The project involves the interrelated study of both heat and mass transfer and the development of microstructure within the product. Successful modelling will ultimately lead to process improvements.

Laura's title was Hydrodynamic transitions in trickle bed reactors investigated using ultra-fast 3D MRI and she describes her project: I am using ultra-fast and chemical-shift MRI techniques to investigate the mechanisms leading to hydrodynamic transitions in multiphase flows in gas-liquid packed-bed reactors. I am also studying the effects of periodic operation in heterogeneous catalytic reactors in terms of wetting efficiencies, pulse characteristics and chemical conversion amongst others. More generally I am interested in reactor optimisation and modelling.

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