Introducing the next generation of chemical reactors

Sep 19, 2008

Unique nanostructures which respond to stimuli, such as pH, heat and light will pave the way for safer, greener and more efficient chemical reactors.

Being developed by a consortium of UK universities, the nanostructures can regulate reactions, momentum, and heat and mass transfer inside chemical reactors. This technology will provide a step change in reactor technology for the chemical, pharmaceutical and agrochemical industries.

Professor Yulong Ding of the Institute of Particle Science and Engineering at the University of Leeds explains: "This research programme is an important step towards producing the next generation of smart "small footprint", greener reactors. The responsive reaction systems we are investigating could make the measurement systems currently used in reactors redundant."

The technique is being developed through a collaborative research programme initiated by Professor Ding together with Dr Alexei Lapkin at the University of Bath, and Professor Lee Cronin at the University of Glasgow.

The programme involves designing and producing molecular metal oxides and polymers as building blocks, and engineering those blocks to form nanoscale structures, which are responsive to internal and / or external stimuli such as pH, heat or light. The structures can be dispersed in fluid, or coated on the reactor walls.

As conditions inside the reactor change, the nanostructured particles will respond by changing their size, shape, or structure. These changes could in turn alter transport properties such as thermal conductivity and viscosity, and catalyst activity – and hence regulate the reactions.

Professor Ding also believes that these systems also have the potential to eliminate the risk of 'runaway', where a chemical reaction goes out of control.

Source: University of Leeds

Explore further: Small quantities of silver can serve as an efficient catalyst to convert aldehydes to acids

Related Stories

Improving genome editing with drugs

Feb 05, 2015

One of the most exciting scientific advances made in recent years is CRISPR—the ability to precisely edit the genome of cells. However, although this method has incredible potential, the process is extremely inefficient. ...

New strategy could lead to dose reduction in X-ray imaging

Nov 22, 2011

For more than a century, the use of X-rays has been a prime diagnostic tool when it comes to human health. As it turns out, X-rays also are a crucial component for studying and understanding molecules, and a new approach ...

Recommended for you

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.