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Doing Chemical Engineering Research

While doing a Chemical Engineering Degree, besides learning all the Fundamental of Chemical Engineering subjects, we have some design project to deal with. Doing the design project is very interesting as we really put ourself as a chemical engineer, thinking of how to commercialise certain project, when to get the Return on Investment (ROI), doing some autocad drawing of the plant, selecting which process and equipment to purchase etc. Some other chemical engineering students in some other university will do a small research work. This is actually a very good exposure for the undergraduate students on how to do research work. Normally the students will be allocated a few weeks or perhaps 1-2 semester to complete their small thesis/dissertation. Some can do the research with few obstacles from the experiment etc. Some could not continue doing those research or be in a very advance research group which always stresses for results.

For me, after my undergraduate study, I continued with Masters in Chemical Engineering. I did a full time research study in Universiti Teknologi Malaysia supervised by Prof. Dr. Nor Aishah Saidina Amin, a very successful researcher. The research is actually about converting natural gas into gasoline via a single step process using modified zeolite catalyst. It was a very interesting research. I explored and learn a lot while doing the research. We synthesized and modified the zeolite catalysts ourself. We characterized the catalyst using various instruments such as X-Ray Diffraction (XRD), Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM), Fourier Transform Infra Red (FTIR), Temperature Program Desorption (TPD) etc.

So, after satisfied with the quality of the catalyst, we tested them in our self made experimental rig. The experiment normally took slightly more than 8 hours. At the end of the experiment, we hope to get some amount of liquid/oil/gasoline. This liquid will be analyzed in a Gas chromatography to check its hydrocarbon composition. As fas as i can remember, we tested the Research Octane Number (RON), and the best that we have ever obtained is 88 (Dr./Pak Didi (my good research friend): correct me if I'm wrong)...Well....this outstanding research have won us numerous awards and recognitions. That was the main research in the Chemical Reaction Engineering Group. My research was investigating the reaction of converting methane(CH4) which is the main component of natural gas into ethane(C2H6)/ethylene(C2H4) via the the production of methyl radical (CH3*). This reaction will only occur with the presence of metal oxide catalyst and temperature of about 700 - 850 celcius. Well, i felt it was a very good research and experience. I did faced so many obstacles along the way. Luckily, a new friend that suddenly appeared, helped me and shared some ideas on completing the research- special thanks to Pak Tutuk.

I could also not forget the companion of Pidun whom was doing the Palm oil to gasoline process. Also Sean, Istadi, Kusmiyai, Rozi, K ida and the rest....But, the most support came from my beloved wife, Mazura who supported me all the way. Well....thank god, it's over....However, I deep inside I fancy to do a PhD in Chemica Engineering. Well, my wife is in her first year of doing her PhD...Also Chemical Engineering > Separation > Crystallization....

posted by Kipas Repair JB @ 8:17 PM,


At Wednesday, August 16, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice blog!
You are welcome at http://www.chemicalblogs.com


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The Author


I’m Zaki. I used to be a project, process and chemical engineer. Few years ago I successfully became a Chartered Engineer (IChemE) and Professional Engineer (BEM). I'm now employed as a chemical engineering educator/researcher/consultant. Hope you like reading my blog. I welcome any feedback from you. My email: zaki.yz[alias]gmail.com. TQ!

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