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PhD Chemical Engineering student scoops top prize

LSBU PhD Chemical Engineering student scoops top prize for outstanding work and technical excellence at prestigious IChemE research event
17 July 2014

An LSBU third year PhD student has been awarded first prize for her technical excellence and outstanding presentation in the field of Fluid Separation Processes at an event organised by the Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE).

Rim Saada, who is currently in the third year of her PhD in Chemical Engineering under the supervision of Professor Basu Saha in the Centre for Green Process Engineering at the Applied Science Department, received the award at the annual research event entitled "What's New in Fluid Separations" organised by the IChemE Fluid Separations Special Interest Group (FSSIG) at AstraZeneca, Macclesfield.

The topic of Rim's presentation was entitled: Greener synthesis of DMC from CO2 using a novel ceria-zirconia/graphene catalyst.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the most important anthropogenic greenhouse gas and therefore it is considered as the main contributor for global warming. However, CO2is recognised as an abundant, cheap, recyclable and non-toxic carbon source and thus its utilisation for the production of value added chemicals is extremely beneficial for the chemical industry.

Dimethyl carbonate (DMC) is a non-toxic, biodegradable and valuable chemical of great commercial interest. DMC has versatile chemical properties that make it a good precursor material for the production of polycarbonates and a potential gasoline additive due to its high oxygen content. Her research focused on the direct synthesis of dimethyl carbonate from methanol and carbon dioxide using a novel ceria-zirconia/graphene as a catalyst.

Bev Julien, Pro Vice chancellor at LSBU, said: "Coming from AstraZeneca myself, I am well aware of the standards which they look for and expect – recognition from this peer group and IChemE is a real tribute to Rim's ability and the quality of the work which she is doing."

The event brought together individuals and organisations from across the country to discover the exciting and diverse separation processes research currently underway in the UK. Ten young researchers (Post-docs, PhD students and industrial researchers) from the UK Universities and industry presented their research, including Rim. A panel of judges, from both industry and academia, evaluated the presentations and gave feedback at the end of the event.

The best contributions received prizes, from a total prize allocation of £1000. Rim received £400 as the overall winner of the event.