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The University of Southampton

Multimillion-pound investment to create Chemical Engineering laboratory and virtual control room

Published: 10 November 2020
new Chemical Engineering laboratory
The multimillion-pound investment includes a new Chemical Engineering laboratory

Chemical Engineering students will prepare to address some of the greatest challenges of the 21st Century in state-of-the-art teaching facilities opening in January 2022 at the University of Southampton.

The £5.3 million investment includes a new Chemical Engineering laboratory, design laboratory, IT suite and tutorial rooms, alongside an immersive virtual control room that simulates industrial facilities.

Work has started on the new facilities at Highfield Campus following a £12 million transformation of adjoined Chemistry teaching laboratories.

Southampton offers undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Chemical Engineering with a focus on sustainable technologies and processes. The programmes draw upon the University’s leading expertise in areas such as low-carbon technology, fine chemicals, green energy and water/wastewater engineering.

Dr Nuno Bimbo, Lecturer in Chemical Engineering, says: “These impressive new facilities will give students the best tools to prepare for their future careers. This investment is creating outstanding conditions for our staff and students as we develop an international profile for high-quality research and teaching in Chemical Engineering that delivers global impact.”

The new Chemical Engineering laboratory will support the programmes’ emphasis on practical teaching. Brand-new equipment will include distillation columns; liquid-liquid and solid-liquid extraction units; continuous, batch, plug-flow and catalytic reactors; adsorption units; gas absorption columns; filtration units; sedimentation equipment; ion-exchange unit, process control equipment; fluidised bed experiments; crystallisation units and reverse osmosis units and fermentation units.

The virtual control room and its software will match the installations used by many companies to train their staff at large industrial plants. The experience will help students build a comprehensive understanding of the different processes in sectors ranging from oil and gas, to food and drink or pharmaceuticals.

The facilities’ new IT suite will be equipped with computers and a comprehensive software package for state-of-the-art simulations. This includes process control, heat and mass transfer, reaction engineering, unit operations and the majority of operations that take place in the chemical industry.

Dr Bimbo adds: “The 21st Century will bring new challenges with the predicted growth in energy, food and water demand, and increased need for commodities and products such as pharmaceuticals, medicines and hygiene products.

“Chemical engineers will be right at the centre of these challenges, as they will be key to develop and improve processes that produces products at a large scale while minimising impact on the environment. Southampton Chemical Engineering graduates will take what they have learned here to create a world that is cleaner, fairer and more sustainable.”



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