“What does society need; what are the desirable outcomes and how can chemical engineers work in partnership with others to make it happen?” (Chemical Engineering Matters, p.5, IChemE, 2014)
The areas of research interest to Process & Chemical Engineering at UCC cohere readily with both local (process industry and societal) imperatives and broader contemporary professional disciplinary goals as articulated by the professional institution, the Institution of Chemical Engineers (though their ‘Chemical Engineering Roadmap’ (IChemE, 2007), and most recently in their ‘Chemical Engineering Matters’ policy document (IChemE 2012, 2014 (2nd ed.)). These are demonstrated in the figure below, which maps UCC Process & Chemical activity (indicated by a smiley icon) onto respective professional disciplinary imperatives as identified by IChemE.
UCC Process & Chemical Engineering and contemporary Chemical Engineering research imperatives (IChemE, 2012)
Specifically, Process & Chemical research interests at UCC lie in the three broad (and often overlapping) domains (pillars) of:
- FOOD & DRINK
- PHARMACEUTICAL & BIOPHARMACEUTICAL
- SOCIETAL WELLBEING
Within these domains, research interests of staff extend to the following specific cross cutting areas:
- Particle and Powder Science/Technology
- Process Modelling & Optimisation
- Quality by Design in the Process Industries
- Scholarship of Engineering Education
- Shelf Life and Packaging
- Trans- and Multidisciplinarity and Collaboration
This research landscape is graphically represented by an analogous diagram in the figure below, whereby the specific research interests cross cut disciplinary research pillar domains, which in turn may ultimately feed into (as with the IChemE diagram) overall enhanced ‘Quality of life’, a key contemporary imperative for chemical, and indeed all, engineers.
UCC Process & Chemical Engineering Research competencies
Within the university, Process & Chemical Engineering aims to play a role as an important hub discipline in facilitating the achievement of university and inter/national research imperatives. This can manifest itself in the discipline exhibiting a number of research facets: in food, bio/pharma and societal wellbeing. The wheel figure below graphically demonstrates how the discipline articulates the development of this hub position across the three fundamental research pillars, as an ‘axial’ discipline around which it can interact with other disciplines, respective industry sectors, and research initiatives to align with emerging national and international research imperatives. These include for example, the EU Horizon 2020 programme, aimed at ‘EU Research and Innovation Tackling Societal Challenges’ or the Irish Government’s ‘Innovation 2020’ which seeks to address ‘Grand Societal Challenges’.
The axial nature of UCC Process & Chemical Engineering research pillars