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While many chemical engineers work in process engineering, the interdisciplinary nature of chemical engineering is applicable to product development and design where between 30 % to 50% of chemical engineers work in product development depending on the country. The types of products can be quite diverse in nature, ranging from sunscreens, shampoo, pharmaceuticals or mass-produced ice-cream to more device-oriented products such as energy storage devices (e.g., super-capacitors, graphene based materials), drug delivery materials (e.g. polymer particles, capsules or hydrogels), tissue engineered materials or even kidney dialysis units. In practice, chemical engineers work with other engineers (e.g., materials, biomedical, mechanical) in product design in a range of industrial sectors including foods, cosmetics, personal care products, pharmaceuticals, ceramics, 2D materials, veterinary and agricultural sciences, minerals purification, biochemical processing and biomedical engineering.
This subject allows students to better understand product design by learning about the unifying fundamental structure-function relationships and material properties found in these complex products. Students will learn how to use >a basic knowledge of interfacial phenomena to see how products or devices are designed, manufactured and analysed. In addition, students will be introduced to the key stages of product development, the importance of the needs and specifications of the target users and customers and decision gating processes involved in getting a product from an idea to market. Students will also learn about some of the instruments used in industry for analysis of products, from the basics to state-of-the-art. Students will be able to use the information from the lectures and tutorials to focus on an area of interest to explore how a product or device was discovered, developed, designed delivered for a set of users or customers. They will also be able to present this information to a broader audience.
Fundamental topics covered in the subject include: how colloidal particle diffusion mediates particle suspension stability and shelf life, how to link interparticle forces to stability, shelf life and particle suspension flow, i.e., viscoelasticity and rheology; the formation and properties of emulsions and foams, the behaviour of polymers in solution and how this affects polymer adsorption to surfaces and coating formation; the viscoelastic behaviour of polymer solutions and how polymers are used in soft materials including polymer coatings, gels and hydrogels; the formation solution microstructure through the self-assembly of amphiphilic molecules to form micelles, vesicles and hexagonal phases. The common characterisation and analytical methods used to study these phenomena including a number of more advanced methods in spectroscopy, microscopy, particle size measurement and image analysis.
Intended learning outcomes
On completion of this subject the student is expected to:
- Describe and analyse the flow behaviour of particulate materials and the influence of surface chemistry, additives and processing history on the behaviour of fine solid and liquid particle slurries
- Connect the structure-function relationships based in interfacial phenomena to product material properties as well as formulation and device design.
- Apply the physical concepts of interfacial phenomena to processes, products and devices in the minerals, ceramics, pigment, food, personal care products, biomedical device and pharmaceuticals industries.
- Apply these concepts to the manufacture and characterisation of products and related soft materials.
On completion of this subject, students should be able to:
- apply fundamental science and engineering knowledge
- have capacity for independent thought
- analyse and solve open-ended problems
- comprehend complex concepts and communicate lucidly this understanding
- have awareness of advanced technologies in the discipline
- write a technical report
- present work in poster format
Last updated: 10 November 2023