Professor Claire Adjiman

PhD, CEng, FIChemE, FRSC

Claire Adjiman

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Job title: Professor of Chemical Engineering
Division: Department of Chemical Engineering
Organisation: Imperial College London
Tags: Fellowship: Previous Fellow, Imperial College London, SAN
Related theme: Energy Engineering Manufacturing the future


Claire received her PhD in Chemical Engineering from Princeton University. Her research interests are in integrated process and molecular/materials design, property prediction, optimisation. She received several prizes including RAEng-ICI Fellowship (1998-2003), Philip Leverhulme Prize for Engineering (2009), and SCI Armstrong Lecture (2011).

My Fellowship

Our current approach to the design of processes often treats the molecules and materials involved in the process separately from the process units and operating conditions. Thus the molecules (solvents) and materials (catalysts) needed are usually chosen from a limited set of choices (or design space) because evaluating many options, computationally or experimentally, is costly and time-consuming. Once this choice is made, the process topology, process units and operating conditions can be chosen.

This sequential decision-making can lead to poor performance as it limits the design space and it ignores the intrinsic links between molecules and process. For example, a question such as what is the best solvent for a reaction in a pharmaceutical manufacturing process cannot be answered in isolation. The answer depends on the temperature and pressure, and on what follows in the process. If it is another reaction, it may be best to find a single solvent that works well for both reactions, without necessarily being optimal for either reaction, to avoid expensive, energy-intensive, steps such as exchanging one solvent for another.

Through this fellowship, my group and I are developing ways to extend the boundary of computer-aided process design to include molecular or material level decisions, to achieve better process economics and lower environmental impact through increased material and energy efficiency.

Motivation to Apply

The fellowship is a great opportunity to put together a focused research team to make a step change in what I think is an important area of research. Because of the critical mass the programme provides, it is an excellent way to enhance collaborations with industry partners and with other academics working in this area worldwide. It also provides the opportunity to deepen one's understanding and to extend into new areas, helping to produce more impactful research outputs.

Career benefit of Fellowship

The fellowship is beneficial because, in addition to delivering research results, it enables a greater focus on building strong network of collaborators, increasing international visibility and dissemination activities, increasing technology transfer activities, and looking ahead to future challenges. I have also benefited from mentoring by a mentor external to my organisation - this has been a great help.

Advice for future applicants

Think big, focus on an area of research you find exciting, and ask others for help in preparing a strong proposal.