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Reaction Engineering: Addressing Inefficiency in Chemistry

Posted on August 15th, 2017 by in Chemical Manufacturing Excellence


Professor Alexei Lapkin of the University of Cambridge is an expert in reaction engineering. He leads one of a cluster of research groups in the Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology Department, all focused on different aspects of the field. He recently met with Elsevier for an interview about his work, and we were struck by some of his comments.

Reaction engineering attempts to understand reaction systems in terms of the interactions between their elements, which means the energy input, the molecules’ physical properties and reactivity, the reactor’s properties, and so on.

As Professor Lapkin explains, it’s important to design reactions in a way that maximizes their efficiency and minimizes their environmental impact. While there were times when relatively unclean or inefficient processes were implemented—and some are still in use—nowadays, sustainability, cost efficiency, and competitiveness are major driving factors in chemistry.

Reaction engineering provides a way to address these inefficiencies as it enables the mathematical modeling of processes and the consideration of how changing any one element will impact the other elements. This allows for the design of better processes that have less environmental impact, use resources more efficiently, and even help companies get to market sooner.

Chemicals companies are turning to reaction engineering to see if they can optimize their processes and groups like Professor Lapkin’s are responding with data-driven models that reveal much about the unobservable essence of chemical reactions.

Read the full interview with Professor Lapkin and his thoughts on the role of high-quality data in reaction engineering.

All opinions shared in this post are the author’s own.

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