Research at Process & Energy


Mission statement of the P&E department

“World-Class Research & Education Focusing on Process & Energy Technologies for Sustainable Development”

The Process & Energy Department aspires to conduct world-class research & education focusing on process & energy technologies for sustainable development. The research is conducted from a deep understanding of the underlying physics and is oriented towards industrial applications and societal needs. Our research is founded on expertise and interest in the fields of Engineering Thermodynamics, Fluid Mechanics, Separation Technology and Energy Technology. The research is characterised by the interplay between modelling and experimentation, spanning a range of length scales from molecule to plant and product and building on truly unique experimental facilities. The constituent research groups strive for scientific leadership in their area of research and jointly strive for a centre of excellence as a department.


Research conducted at the P&E department

The global process and energy industries face the challenge to provide a growing and more demanding world population with power, heat, commodity and speciality chemicals essential for modern life in a sustainable manner. Sustainable industrial processes require highly efficient usage of materials, energy and water in order to minimise the impact on the environment. On top of this, such processes are designed to be intrinsically safe and to always deliver on-spec. Truly sustainable processes naturally combine all these features with economical profitability.

The Process & Energy Department addresses this need with a modern strategy in the sense that technologies for the production of power, heat and chemicals are developed in concert from molecule to process and plant. This strategy is scientifically sensible since energy and process technology are to a large extent conceptually similar, for example founded on the same physical disciplines and comprising the same unit operations, and it is a practical necessity because co-generation from diverse fossil and renewable feedstocks is the sustainable way forward.

The strategy to span the whole development chain from molecule to process and plant is reflected in the architecture of the departmental research portfolio.

The four chairs of the P&E department and their interplay cover a broad spectrum of research – ranging from fundamental, to conceptual and applied in nature.

The chairs of Fluid Mechanics and Engineering Thermodynamics form the fundamental basis in the P&E department.

In Fluid Mechanics a particular emphasis is directed firstly on turbulence, thus aiming at a detailed modelling of macroscopic flows but, secondly, also on microscopic flows targeting at micro-scaled process conditions. The research is focussed on application in processeswhere turbulence plays an important role, such as the transport of small particles, droplets and gas bubbles, mixing in relation to chemical reactions, etc.

In Engineering Thermodynamics, a molecular view is adopted in order to derive macroscopic properties, while the same mixtures are also studied experimentally in their (high pressure) phase behaviour. Further, second-law analysis and irreversible thermodynamics aid in rigorously modelling and optimising technical processes.

A mesoscopic view is adopted in the group Intensified Reaction & Separation Systems, where research is directed at understanding the governing kinetic mechanisms of industrial crystallization processes and their interplay with thermodynamics and fluid dynamics. Further research is conducted on hybrid and green separation processes separations to enhance safety and maximise energy efficiency.

Energy efficient process alternatives are naturally in the very core also in the Energy Technology chair, which aims at large scale power plant technology, contributing conceptually as well as through dynamic modelling. The research further covers distributed energy systems as well as integrated combustion and (biomass) conversion equipment.