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The University of Southampton
Centre of Excellence for Continuous Digital Chemical Engineering Science

About Us

From the active ingredients in new drug treatments to the nanomaterials used in solar panels, novel chemicals and materials play a crucial role in scientific and technological advances.

The University of Southampton’s Centre of Excellence in Continuous Digital Chemical Engineering Science (CDCES) is developing smarter, greener and more efficient processes for the discovery and manufacture of new chemicals and materials, using the latest innovations in synthesis, sensors, artificial intelligence (AI) and computer modelling.

The Centre’s research focuses on continuous processing, a method that involves the uninterrupted movement of materials through a production system. Controlled by sensors and AI, continuous processing systems can produce a wide range of products using small-scale equipment and can be adapted quickly or optimised with low-cost, 3D-printed prototype components.

This makes them particularly suitable for the production of specialist high-value chemicals and materials. The continuous processing systems being developed at the Centre include platforms for environmentally friendly production processes, such as photochemistry, electrochemistry and solid-state catalysis that boost efficiency and reduce waste.


CDCES will bring together science and engineering expertise from across the University of Southampton along with industrial partners, to enable the discovery and production of new chemicals and materials using smart sustainable processes and methods.

In addition to process control, digital methods can be used to enable rapid discovery of chemicals and materials, including nanomaterials. Developing AI and powerful computer modelling tools to predict the properties of new chemicals and materials, and understanding how best to make them, will be another key research area for the Centre.

Through industry uptake of its techniques, the Centre aims to create efficiencies, drive innovation and create a competitive advantage for companies in the biotechnology, pharmaceutical, agriculture and high-tech manufacturing sectors, among others. In addition, faster discovery and manufacture of novel chemicals and materials will enable scientists to pursue new areas of fundamental laboratory research – the foundation of future technological advances.

Crossing disciplinary boundaries, the Centre draws on Southampton’s expertise in optimised chemicals and materials production, organic and bio materials, AI-enabled materials discovery, additive manufacturing (3D printing), flow systems and computational fluid dynamics, and sensor design. Its research agenda is informed by a comprehensive understanding of industry needs, gained through academics’ research collaborations with companies such as GlaxoSmithKline, Syngenta and AkzoNobel, and their involvement in cross-sector Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council-funded networks.

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