The Molecular Engineering MRes includes a 6-month collaborative, multidisciplinary research project. Every project has two academic supervisors from different disciplines, and at least one industrial supervisor. Each student undertakes a 3-month research placement hosted by one of our external partners, as an integrated component of their project.

Project outlines are circulated to students in October. They are encouraged to talk to the supervisors of the projects that they think are particularly interesting, before submitting their preferences and short supporting statements to demonstrate the relevant skills, experience and motivation that they have for those projects. A wide range of different projects available each year.

 

Examples of recent MRes projects

Design of high-throughput experiments to gain reaction understanding

  • Academic Supervisors: Prof Claire Adjiman (Chemical Engineering) and Prof Mimi Hii (Chemistry)
  • Industrial Partner: Lilly UK
  • Themes: experiment design, pharmaceuticals

Project overview: In pharmaceutical process development, it is important to gain an understanding of reaction performance quickly to identify the best reaction conditions/route. High throughput experiments offer a great way to generate a lot of data, but it is not clear what the best way to make use of this resource is. This project seeks to answer this question.

Process performance indexed solvent design for CO2 capture

Project overview: This project will use a computer aided molecular design approach to design new solvents for CO2 capture using the SAFT-γ-mie framework. A key element of this project is the ambition to focus on both high- and low-concentration sources of CO2.

Moving towards low-cost solar generation of H2 fuel – can metal oxide heterojunctions make this a reality?

  • Academic Supervisors: Dr Andreas Kafizas (Chemistry/Grantham) and Dr Anna Hankin (Chemical Engineering)
  • Industrial Partner: Redoxme AB
  • Themes: inorganic synthesis and characterisation; renewable fuels

Project overview: Synthesis of a WO3/ BiVO4 heterojunction system, and measurement of their water splitting activities, followed by optimization of the synthesis to achieve better performance. Samples will initially be made on a small scale (~1 cm2) and promising samples will be up-scaled (~100 cm2) and form part of water splitting prototypes.

Microchip-based wearable monitoring system for the optimisation of antimicrobial dosing

  • Academic Supervisors: Prof Pantelis Georgiou (Electrical Engineering) and Prof Alison Holmes (Infectious Diseases, Centre for Antimicrobial Optimisation)
  • External Partner: Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust
  • Themes: wearable tech; antimicrobial resistance

Project overview: The overall aim of the project is work towards development of a microchip-based wearable device which can detect and quantify antimicrobial compounds at point of care. Of particular interest is detection of metabolites within sweat, given antibiotics such as beta-lactams and rifampicin have shown to be secreted from skin. There are opportunities to develop technologies to dynamically guide drug dosing and allow personalised care to be delivered.

Benchmarking sustainably produced carbon anode materials and composites for use in energy storage devices

Project overview: Hard carbons for use as anode materials for ion storage can be produced from biomass-derived products and plastic waste through a process known as hydrothermal carbonisation (HTC). This project will explore combining HTC derived hard carbon material with various other sustainably derived carbon nanomaterials supplied by industry, such as carbon nanotubes, nanospheres, nanofibers and graphene to form carbon composite electrode materials.

Flexible paper-based packaging – how far can we go to replace fossil-derived flexible plastic packaging?

  • Academic Supervisors: Dr Koon-Yang Lee (Aeronautics) and Prof Jerry Heng (Chemical Engineering)
  • Industrial Partner: Unilever
  • Themes: characterisation; sustainable packaging

Project overview: This project will investigate the structure-function relationship between the molecular and microstructure properties of paper-based packaging with key processing and in-use performance properties for flexible packaging applications. Full materials characterisation and understanding will be undertaken, devising mechanistic studies to relate the constituents of paper-based packaging materials to performance, and development of new validation assays/methodologies.

Crystal growth behaviour post breakage

  • Academic Supervisors: Prof Jerry Heng (Chemical Engineering) and Prof Nic Harrison (Chemistry)
  • Industrial Partner: BASF
  • Themes: combined lab/modelling; crystallisation

Project overview: This project is inspired by the recent striking and novel observation in our lab, of the multiple phases in crystal regeneration. This project seeks to provide an understanding of crystal growth post breakage, via experimental observations and supported by modelling approaches.

What did the Romans ever do for us? Sustainable Infrastructure from Heritage Materials

  • Academic Supervisors: Prof Mary Ryan (Materials), Dr Rupert Myers (Civil & Environmental Engineering) and Prof Ifan Stephens (Materials)
  • External Partner: Cookies Collective / Villa Medici
  • Themes: characterisation; heritage sector

Project overview: The study unfolds from the rich geological landscape around Rome to the Villa Medici palazzo and its material genealogy and construction techniques, looking at how material properties and applications can find an active role in contemporary architecture. The project will use advanced characterisation tools to elucidate the composition and structure of construction materials including ceramics and stone. An understanding of how these materials were used and re-used in historic buildings, to inform the transition to a future pollution-free construction industry.

Enantiomer separation through continuous crystallization

  • Academic Supervisors: Prof Klaus Hellgardt (Chemical Engineering) and Prof Mimi Hii (Chemistry)
  • Industrial Partner: BASF
  • Themes: combined lab/modelling; crystallisation

Project overview: Enantiomerically pure products are required for a wide range of chemicals that are designed for interaction with biological systems (e.g. pharmaceuticals and agrochemical actives). In this work we will explore a methodology for determining the processing parameters to be used in continuous crystallization to separate racemates into two enantiopure fractions with high efficiency. Modelling may also be used for optimizing an initial reactor concept.

Developing a model of undercoating corrosion

Project overview: Corrosion of metals is a ubiquitous problem that is costly to prevent, detect and mitigate as well as one of the main causes for the need to replace engineering materials. The mechanisms involved during corrosion of coated metal surfaces are poorly understood; in particular the nature and concentrations of the reactive species present in the confined space between metal and coating and their role in polymer degradation. Using a combination of experimental and theoretical data simple global kinetic model of the redox reactions occurring at the metal solution interface and a global kinetic model of polymer degradation will be developed and tested.