Separation and reaction engineering

Combining advanced chemical and materials engineering and science towards developing and characterising world-leading innovative processes with sustainable and environmental applications.

Our objective is to develop and characterise world-leading innovative separation and reaction engineering processes by combining novel advanced chemical and materials engineering and science.

We have broad research interests in many classes of multiphase systems such as foams, bubbly mixtures, fluidised particles and emulsions. Our research has a strong focus on green (sustainable and environmental) process engineering applications.

We also have expertise in gas-liquid foams and how they can be harnessed in practical processes, such as foam fractionation, respecting the inter-phase boundary conditions. Driven by innovating new multiphase processes, we strive to understand the fundamental engineering science that governs the behaviour of the relevant multiphase mixture.

Our research

Membrane separation science and engineering

  • Nanofiltration membranes: fabrication, characterising the separation performance, optimisation for selected applications
  • Determining the in-use (wet) microstructure of membranes
  • Tuneable membranes: Fabrication, fundamental characterisation, and optimisation for selected applications 

Green reaction and wastewater reactor engineering

  • In-situ characterisation and analysis of reaction progression, reaction products and intermediates and kinetics by FTIR and UV/Vis spectroscopy
  • Photocatalytic reaction engineering: Fundamental reaction characterisation, reactor development and scale-up for thin film semiconductor catalysts 
  • Advanced oxidation of biorecalcitrant wastewaters: sonochemical oxidation, microwave UV oxidation, and titanium dioxide and zinc oxide catalysed photooxidations
  • Membrane enhanced reactions: process and reaction intensification by combining advanced oxidations with nanofiltration
  • Ultrasonic reaction enhancement
  • Development and characterisation of supported chiral organocatalysts
  • Fundamentals and applications of enzymes immobilisation on wool 

Green Process Engineering

  • Conversion of waste into value-added products:
    • The utilisation of mussel shell waste
    • Extraction and recycling of polyphenols from olive oil wastes 
  • The selective extraction of active ingredients from renewable natural sources

Biological Reaction Analysis

  • Advanced in-situ biochemical reaction analysis by FISH, DGGE and PCR, applied to industrial wastewaters and wastes
  • Bioremediation of industrial wastewaters and wastes

Multiphase Processes

  • Process intensification in foam fractionation
  • Conformational changes of proteins adsorbing to gas-liquid interfaces
  • Enhanced gas-liquid mass transfer using pneumatic foam
  • Cleaning-in-place with slug flow
  • Light-scattering methods for foam characterisation
  • Development of emulsion welding consumable products
  • Creation of uniformly-sized swarms of nano-bubbles
  • The stress condition at the gas-liquid interface
  • Instabilities in credit markets


Membrane separation science and engineering

  • Elcometer thin film applicator for thin film membrane preparation by phase inversion
  • SEPA dead-end pressure filtration cell for initial characterisation of flux, MWCO, rejection for fabricated membranes and process development
  • Selected cross-flow membrane filtration cells for long term characterisation of flux, MWCO, rejection for fabricated membranes for process development
  • Millipore membrane filtration module with high pressure pump for process development
  • Pilot-scale membrane testing
  • pH stat for Enzyme Kinetics Evaluation

Chemical and advanced oxidation reactions

  • Batch photolysis reactor, for advanced oxidation and fundamental studies on photocatalysts
  • Sonics 750 High Power Ultrasound, for advanced oxidations and reaction enhancement

Chemical analysis

  • Perkin Elmer FTIR and UV/Vis Spectrometers for spot sample and in-situ analysis of reaction intermediates and products
  • Agilent 1100 autosampler HPLC, with UV/Vis, RID and ELSD detectors and product fractionators for identification and quantification of chemical species
  • Shimadzu GC2010 autosampler with FID and Shimadzu GCMS QP5000 for identification and quantification of chemical species

Materials Analysis

We have access to the departmental Contact Angle goniometer and XRD. We also have access to advanced materials analysis techniques in the Research Centre for Surface and Materials Science including SEM, ESEM, AFM and XPS. Find out more on the RCSMS website.

Our people