Centre for Sustainable Chemical Technologies

Processes and manufacturing

Engineer adjusting a continuous flow reactorAchieving sustainable economic development via chemical technologies is a multi-faceted challenge that requires an integrated response. By adopting a whole systems approach, we combine fundamental chemistry with engineering optimization. Projects in the Processes and Manufacturing theme draw on the cross-functional expertise available in Bath to combine leading-edge technological insight with analyses of total supply chain and whole life cycle impact, in collaboration with industrial and international partners.

Theme leaders: Professor Michael Lewis, School of Management; Dr Nuno Reis, Department of Chemical Engineering

Industrial partners: GlaxoSmithKline; Johnson Matthey; MAST Carbon; Novartis; Purac; SASOL; Sharp Laboratories of Europe


Research areas & leaders

Reaction engineering

Chemical Engineering: Dr Davide Mattia, Dr Pawel Plucinski, Dr Nuno Reis
Chemistry: Dr Dave Carbery, Professor Matthew Davidson, Professor Chris Frost, Dr Matthew Jones,

Sustainable integrated processes

Chemical Engineering: Dr Davide Mattia, Dr Nuno Reis
Chemistry: Dr Janet Scott

Process intensification

Chemical Engineering: Dr Davide Mattia, Dr Pawel Plucinski, Dr Nuno Reis
Chemistry: Dr Steve Bull, Professor Matthew Davidson, Professor Chris Frost, Dr Matthew Jones, Dr Janet Scott, Professor Jonathan Williams
Mechanical Engineering: Dr Marcelle McManus

Major projects & grants

BIOBEADS - Advanced Manufacturing for Sustainable Biodegradable Microbeads

This project will develop, in combination, new manufacturing routes to new products. Manufacturing will be based on a low-energy process that can be readily scaled up, or down, and the products will be biodegradable microbeads, microscapsules and microsponges, which share the performance characteristics of existing plastic microsphere products, but which will leave no lasting environmental trace. Using bio-based materials such as cellulose (from plants) and chitin (from crab or prawn shells), we will use continuous manufacturing methods to generate microspheres, hollow capsules and porous particles to replace the plastic microbeads currently in use in many applications.

Integrated energy efficient microwave and unique fermentation processes for pilot scale production of high value chemicals from lignocellulosic waste

To meet key climate change targets, while providing sustainable economic growth, the UK must develop a robust bioeconomy. This requires the valorisation of UK-specific and abundant waste lignocelluosic streams. This project aims to develop a pilot scale multi-product biorefinery by coupling breakthroughs in low energy biomass treatment and unique fermentation to produce marketable compounds.

Terpene-based Manufacturing for Sustainable Chemical Feedstocks

Our aim is to develop a sustainable, integrated platform for manufacture of industrial chemicals based on biological terpenoid feedstocks to complement carbohydrate, oil and lignin-based feedstocks that will be available to sustainable chemistry-using industries of the future. Our focus will include production of aromatics and amines which are particularly challenging targets from other biofeedstocks.

Total Recovery of All Platinum Group Metals (TRAP)

Platinum group metals (PGMs) are widely used as catalysts in the production of chemicals that enhance quality of life: pharmaceutical & cosmetic products, coatings, energy-efficient lubricants, adhesives, food cling wraps and phthalate-free plasticisers, to name just a few examples. However, the UK has no viable reserves of PGMS, so it is critical that we recover the metals both for their value (for example, rhodium, Rh, to be recovered in this project, sells for >$1100 per troy ounce!) and to ensure materials security. Total Recovery of All Platinum group metals (TRAP) is a project focussed on developing a technology package integrating both new materials and low-energy engineering processes using membranes to capture Rh from waste streams in production of large volume chemicals. To achieve this, a UK SME with expertise in metals capture, Phosphonics, will work with academic partners at the University of Bath and a large waste management company, Veolia. Recovery of metals like Rh will recover value from waste, enhance the UK's movement towards the circular economy and ensure that we can continue to manufacture the products that we need, while reducing global C-footprint.

UK Catalysis Hub

UK Catalysis Hub logoCatalysis is a core area of contemporary science posing major fundamental and conceptual challenges, while being at the heart of the chemical industry - an immensely successful and important part of the overall UK economy (generating in excess of £50 billion per annum). UK catalytic science currently has a strong presence, but there is intense competition in both academic and industrial sectors, and a need for UK industrial activity to shift towards new innovative areas posing major challenges for the future. In light of these challenges the UK Catalysis Hub endeavours to become a leading institution, both nationally and internationally, in the field and acts to coordinate, promote and advance the UK catalysis research portfolio (UK Catalysis Hub project criteria).

Professor Matthew Davidson of the CSCT leads the "Catalysis for Chemical Transformations" theme of the UK Catalysis Hub.

Factory in a Fumehood: Reagentless Flow Reactors as Enabling Techniques for Manufacture

Why reagentless? In traditional chemical processes once a reagent has performed its task it needs to be removed from the product stream. Unless the spent reagent can be reactivated then the waste stream must be dealt with. Most processes require large amounts of reagent, placing a heavy financial and environmental burden on manufacturing of high value products such as pharmaceuticals.

Spinning Mesh Disc Reactors

This project will develop a new paradigm in spinning disc process intensification technology: the spinning mesh disc reactor (SMDR). The SMDR uses a high surface area rotating mesh supporting a catalyst to create process intensification. A liquid is centrifugally forced and accelerated into the mesh creating rapid mixing and increased heat and mass transfer rates compared to conventional reactors, accelerating reaction rates.

Student projects

Student name Title Supervisors Partners
Abou-Shehada, Sarah (2010–2014) Catalytic reversible oxygen transfer processes Williams, Plucinski, Bull GlaxoSmithKline
Bell, Tamsin (2013-2017) Stabilisation of nanoparticles on curved supports Muricana, Parker Sasol Technologies
Bristow, Jessica (2012–2016) Chemical bonding in metal-organic frameworks: from fundamentals to design principles Walsh, Ting, Gale (Curtin University) Accelrys
Chapman, Robert (2012–2016) A protecting group free strategy for the sustainable synthesis of polyketide natural products Bull, Plucinski, Jones, Gonzalez (University Jaume I)  
Davey, Chris (2012–2016) Lower energy recovery of dilute organics from fermentation broths TBC, Leak LanzaTech
Escursell, Oriol (2016–2020) The fractionation and concentration of whey protein and casein streams from skimmed milk Bird, Kasprzyk-Hordern, Chew, Wenk TetraPak
Hayward, Emily (2011–2015) Investigating fouling & cleaning during the filtration of gum arabic to save water and reduce energy Wilson, Bird, TBC Kerry Ingredients; RWTH Aachen University
Heron, Callum (2014-2018) Sustainable C-H Functionalisation by Improved Catalyst Design Frost, E Patterson, Buchard  
Jones, Caroline (2012–2016)  Novel catalytic methodology for the sustainable synthesis of aza-heterocycles Williams, Plucinski, Bull  
Lomax, Helen (2011–2015)  New approaches to the catalytic activation of arenes Williams, Bull, TBC RWTH Aachen University
Mahy, William (2011–2015)  Design of multi-catalytic processes for drug discovery Frost, Bull, Plucinski CatSci; Sasol
Maltby Richard (2014-2018) Computational and Experimental Studies of Single-Use-Technology Bioreactors Chew, Leak Centre for Process Innovation
Manning, Harriet (2011–2015) The application of hybrid membrane processes to fractionate gum arabic into streams of added value Bird, Edler, TBC Kerry Ingredients
McKeown, Paul (2012–2016)  PLA in SuperCritical CO2 Davidson, Jones, Hintermair, Howdle (Nottingham) Corbion
Paterson, Andy (2012–2016) Selective catalytic C-H activation for drug manufacture Frost, TBC Novartis
Provis-Evans, Cei (2015–2019) Iron photocatalysis for the efficient synthesis of phosphorus-carbon bonds Webster, E Patterson CatSci; NTU
Regue, Miriam (2015-2019) Development of nanostructured metal oxides for solar fuels Eslava, Johnson Technical University of Denmark
Rood, Shawn (2014-2018) Ceria-based Engine Exhuast Catalysts Eslava, Robinson Johnson Matthey; University of Cambridge
Rushworth, Andrew (2012-2016)  The Development of Graphene Based Materials Raithby, Johnson, Bending Johnson Matthey
Thompson, Joe (2012–2016)  New precursors for application in thin film chalcogenide materials Johnson, Wolverson SPECIFIC
Wirawan, Remigius (2012–2016) Towards robust cellulose-based nanofiltration membranes J Scott, TBC UNICAMP (Brazil)
Wagner, Jon (2012-2016)  Novel materials for catalytic conversion of bio-oils Ting, Chuck, Weller Airbus Group