1 October 2007 - 1 June 2012
Chemical engineering is primarily about manufacturing chemicals on an industrial scale in a safe and economical manner. This degree therefore contained the fundamentals of process design, such as:
- mass, heat and momentum transport,
- reactor design,
- binary distillation,
- heat exchangers and heat integration,
- other unit operations such as liquid-liquid extraction, membrane filtration and crystallisation.
As well as this, there were also topics of a professional and economic nature, such as:
- calculation of plant and process capital and operating costs,
- energy reuse and recycling,
- project management and marketing,
- renewable energy sources and life-cycle analysis.
In my third year I undertook a detailed design, working as part of a group to design a process plant to produce methyl chloride. My area of the design concerned designing a packed bed reactor to actually produce the methyl chloride. This involved modelling the heat transfer occurring throughout the packed bed to ensure that a sufficient reaction temperature was maintained. I also incorporated a gas turbine at the outlet of the reactor to recover some of the heat and pressure present within the reaction mixture.
During my fourth year I undertook a research project involving the modelling of a proton exchange membrane fuel cell (PEMFC). These fuel cells turn hydrogen and oxygen into water using a platinum catalyst. My research partner and I investigated the temperature and concentration distributions of the various chemical components, as well as the variation of the cell voltage against current density (known as a polarization curve). We performed the majority of our calculations using COMSOL Multiphysics.
Finally, the degree as a whole gave me other transferable skills that I can apply across disciplines, including integral and differential calculus, partial differential equations and skills in MATLAB and C++.