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Newcastle University Chemical Engineering PhDs in Process Intensification and Catalysis

1. Sugar-based Biorefining: Aqueous phase Reforming

2. Modelling micromixing time for thin film flow in the spinning disk reactor

3. Intensified succinic acid and 1,3 propanediol production

4. Synthetic photochemistry in the Spinning Disk Reactor

5. Ultrasound intensification of biocatalytic processes

1: Sugar-based Biorefining: Aqueous phase Reforming

Biorefining is the process of producing a variety of products from different sustainable biological feedstocks. This has usually been achieved by biological and thermochemical routes. However, many waste streams can be made into valuable products by chemical transformations. One important feedstock in this area is waste carbohydrates.

We intend to investigate the possibilities of producing a range of fuel and higher added value molecules from waste carbohydrate streams via chemistry known as “Aqueous Phase Reforming” or “APR”. We will investigate a range of potential process intensifications to significantly improve existing processes. This has the potential to make such processes considerably more economically viable. This will involve investigating and developing new catalysts, and the combiniation of various process steps (hybridisation).

Contact: Professor Adam Harvey (

2: Modelling micromixing time for thin film flow in the spinning disk reactor

The micromixing efficiency for flow on two spinning disks of 10 cm and 30 cm diameter has recently been characterised in terms of the segregation index Xs for a range of hydrodynamic conditions in the SDR. Micromixing time, denoted by m, is a better representation of micromixing efficiency of any mixing device, compared to the segregation index parameter, as the former is only dependent on the hydrodynamics in the mixer and is not affected by chemical parameters such as reagent concentration etc. An attempt at generating an approximate micromixing time model has been made, on the basis of simple micromixing theory using laminar flow assumptions on this disc. However, deviations from completely smooth laminar flow are to be expected, especially at higher flowrates and higher disc rotation speeds whereby surface waves on the film may induce some degree of turbulence. This makes the above model not fully representative of the entire range of conditions investigated in the SDR.

Following on from the previous work, this project will investigate the formulation of a more accurate model for micromixing time. This will involve the development of appropriate mathematical model equations for the chosen model which will need to be solved by mathematical software to determine theoretical Xs and its associated m. Measurement of power dissipations under various operating conditions will also be undertaken as part of this project and will be related to the modelled micromixing time.

Strong mathematical and modelling skills are highly desirable for this project.

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