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Smart Flow Reactor Platforms for Autonomous Determination of Reaction Kinetics of Heterogeneous Systems

Project ID: 2228cc1450 (You will need this ID for your application)

Under Offer

Research Theme: Manufacturing The Future

UCL Lead department: Chemical Engineering

Department Website

Lead Supervisor: Maximilian Besenhard

Industry partner: Pfizer

Stipend enhancement: £1,000 pa

Project Summary:

The fourth industrial revolution, Industry 4.0, is transforming chemical and process research laboratories as well as manufacturing sites, where smart technologies and digitisation are radically changing the way new chemicals and materials are developed and produced. Automated processes and fully autonomous reactor platforms allow for operator-free experimentation and material & process development and optimisation empowered by computational tools such as machine learning. Within this project, the student teams up with Pfizer’s Flexible-API-Supply-Technologies division (a world leading institution for continuous/flow reactor technology and autonomous systems) to tackle the challenges of autonomous reactor platforms for reactive multiphase systems such as gas-liquid reactions, heterogeneous catalysis and purification processes in general. These challenges will be addressed combining I) novel flow reactors designed specifically for multiphase systems, II) the integration of adequate analysers and sensor technology, and III) autonomous systems going beyond data driven/machine learning based design space exploration by employing autonomous reaction model identification and training. The student will work with highly experienced research groups at Pfizer and UCL on I-III, focussing on I-II. Algorithms for III can be implemented via collaborations among the supervisory team. The multiphase flow reactors envisioned include pallet-string reactors and related capillary based packed-bed-systems, cascades of miniaturised and catalyst loaded continuous stirred tank reactor, and Taylor vortex reactors; All facilitating analyser/sensor integration not only end-product characterisation, but also transient reaction state analysis via spectroscopic techniques (“hyper-spectral imaging”) as well as laser based and optical particle analysis. This project will be hosted in UCL’s brand new cutting-edge Manufacturing Futures Lab equipped with unique process analytic technologies, and a strong research commitment for reactor engineering, process intensification and autonomous systems. The true Digital Twins this project will develop, are in high demand in industry and academic alike, providing the student with unique skills to pursue a promising career in either.