Skip to main content

Process Research and Development


Expertise of research area
Catalysis; Chemical manufacture; continuous processing; green chemistry; photochemistry; reactor design; self-optimisation of reactions

<h2 class="heading hide-accessible">Summary</h2>

This group develops new technologies to support the development of chemical processes from laboratory to manufacturing scale. This involves new chemical technologies (catalysis, photochemistry, electrochemistry), reaction understanding (physical organic chemistry), new reactor design (eg continuous flow processing) and new optimisation processes (including self-optimisation algorithms).

<h2 class="heading hide-accessible">Full description</h2>

<p>The safe, sustainable and economic manufacture of the fine chemicals, pharmaceuticals and new materials to meet global needs presents major societal challenges, the solutions to which require cross-disciplinary thinking and approaches. &nbsp;New catalytic and processing technologies are required to make better use of existing chemical feedstocks, as well as embracing new renewable sources of feedstocks such as bio-based raw materials. The use of cleaner technologies, such as electrochemical and photochemical processes, require both new chemistry and engineering solutions to become commercially viable.</p> <p>Researchers in this grouping in the School of Chemistry collaborate extensively with colleagues in the School of Chemical and Process Engineering and beyond through the University&rsquo;s <a href="">Institute for Process Research and Development (iPRD)</a>. The iPRD is underpinned by four joint appointments between the Schools of Chemistry and Chemical and Process Engineering, including two Professors appointed from industry with over 30 years&rsquo; experience.</p> <p>The iPRD is home to a 650 m2 state-of-the-art process development laboratory &ndash; the first of its kind in the UK&nbsp;&ndash; making Leeds the ideal host for students wishing to gain industry-relevant skills through their studies.</p> <p>We collaborate extensively with industry through the iPRD&rsquo;s Industry Club (a major pre-competitive research forum) as well as through individual research projects. &nbsp;Members of the PRD research group contribute to both the training and research threads in the Leeds-hosted <a href="">EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Molecules to Product</a>.</p> <h5>Examples of key strengths within the group include:</h5> <ul> <li>development of continuous flow platforms for challenging processes such as electrochemistry, photochemistry, biocatalytic transformations and multiphasic chemistry. &nbsp;An exemplar technology is the Freactor, developed at Leeds and commercialised by <a href="">Asynt</a></li> <li>rapid autonomous optimisation of chemical manufacturing through digital processing, using automated feedback loops to identify optimum processing conditions</li> <li>development of new catalysts and catalytic processes for applications in fine chemical synthesis e.g. hydrogen transfer chemistry, polymerisation catalysts etc.</li> <li>utilisation of feedstocks from renewable resources, eg the development of personal care products from food waste and other resources &ndash;&nbsp;commercialised through the University of Leeds spin-out company <a href="">Keracol</a>&nbsp;&ndash;&nbsp;and high-value chemicals from lignin waste</li> <li>development of novel technologies for the capture and reutilisation of carbon dioxide, exploited through the University of Leeds spin-out company <a href="">C-Capture</a></li> </ul> <h5>For queries relating to your research proposal or subject area, please contact the individual supervisors listed below:</h5> <ul> <li><a href="">Professor John Blacker</a></li> <li><a href="">Dr Richard Bourne</a>&nbsp;</li> <li><a href="">Professor Steve Marsden</a>&nbsp;</li> <li><a href="">Professor Patrick McGowan</a>&nbsp;</li> <li><a href="">Professor Frans Muller</a>&nbsp;&nbsp;</li> <li><a href="">Dr Bao Nguyen</a>&nbsp;</li> <li><a href="">Professor Chris Rayner</a></li> <li><a href="">Dr Visuvanathan Sridharan</a></li> <li><a href="">Dr Charlotte Willans</a></li> </ul> <h5>Why do your PhD at Leeds?&nbsp;</h5> <p><strong>96% of our research is world-leading (REF 2021)&nbsp;</strong><br /> At Leeds, our research addresses the most prevalent real-world challenges &ndash; providing solutions that have had both a national and global impact.&nbsp;<br /> <strong>Study in an active research environment&nbsp;</strong><br /> Studying your PhD with us means you&rsquo;ll be working in a professional research environment, using UK-leading facilities to bring your project to life &ndash; alongside active researchers who are at the forefront of their area.&nbsp;<br /> <strong>A strong network of support &nbsp;</strong><br /> The Leeds Doctoral College connects our community of researchers and can offer you the guidance, services and opportunities you&rsquo;ll need to get the most out of your PhD.&nbsp;<br /> <strong>Close industry links&nbsp;</strong><br /> Our partnerships and links to companies and academic institutions give you the opportunity to network at industry talks, seminars and conferences, building connections that&#39;ll benefit your next steps after you complete your PhD.&nbsp;<br /> <strong>Professional skills development &nbsp;</strong><br /> We think of the whole picture at Leeds. That&rsquo;s why we offer a range of workshops and courses that&#39;ll enhance your skillset further and transfer into your professional career.&nbsp;<br /> <strong>Personal and wellbeing services&nbsp;</strong><br /> Mental health and wellbeing support are integral to who we are at Leeds and you&rsquo;ll have access to the full range of services we offer to ensure you&rsquo;re feeling your best &ndash; and reaching your potential in your studies.&nbsp;<br /> <strong>Join our global community&nbsp;</strong><br /> We welcome students, researchers, academics, partners and alumni from more than 140 countries, all over the world. This means, as a university, we&rsquo;re bringing together different cultures and perspectives which helps strengthen our research &ndash; and societal impact.</p> <h3>Useful links and further reading:</h3> <ul> <li><a href="">Research degrees within the School of Chemistry</a></li> <li><a href="">Process Research and Development</a></li> <li><a href="">School of Chemistry, Research and Innovation</a></li> </ul> <h3>Leeds Doctoral College</h3> <p>Our <a href="">Doctoral College</a> supports you throughout your postgraduate research journey. It brings together all the support services and opportunities to enhance your research, your development, and your overall experience.</p>

<h2 class="heading">How to apply</h2>

<p>Formal applications for research degree study should be made online through the <a href="">University&#39;s website</a>.</p>

<h2 class="heading">Contact details</h2>

<p>For queries relating to your research proposal or subject area, please contact the individual supervisors listed above.</p> <p>For further information about your application, please contact Doctoral College Admissions: e: <a href=""></a><br /> &nbsp;</p>

<h2 class="heading heading--sm">Linked project opportunities</h2>
<h2 class="heading heading--sm">Linked funding opportunities</h2>