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My PhD Research Ramblings

Few years ago I was practicing my chemical engineering skill and knowledge in refineries and offshore facilities. Now that I am more focus in chemical engineering research and development, I must admit that I missed those moments. But hey, that's fine. Being in the research field is not bad at all. I am now in the frontier of seeking, researching and developing new knowledge especially in the reaction engineering area.

Being in this field, I am keeping myself pretty much busy with new information, new research publications, new product prototypes, new patented technology/product and so on. Honestly, it is very interesting and amazing to get in touch with the advancement of technology. I'm developing and understanding the process of converting glycerol to olefins, a technology which is still in its infancy stage.

My wife in the other hand is also a researcher like me but she is specialized in separation engineering subject, an important topic under chemical engineering. For her PhD she studied a more focused topic under separation engineering which is progressive freeze concentration, a field which has not been touched by any researcher in our country. During her PhD she designed a crystallization chamber to study the rate and effectiveness of ice crystal formation.

It is tough to design an effective and efficient crystallization chamber (CC). Her first design of the CC looked neat, compact and small. However, after running several tests on the CC, the solute leaks and ice crystal failed to form. Several other unexpected problems emerged and it was finally concluded that the CC cannot be used. She was at the end of her 3rd semester at that time and having a failed CC is the last thing she or any PhD student want to happen.
This is the basic designed of the improved CC

She then studied the failed CC, held several discussions with supervisors, technology experts, suppliers etc and make numerous improvements on the CC design. She identified and engaged with a contractor whom provided a prototype very quickly. This is something that’s always amazed me: rapid prototyping services (such as this one from Omega Plastics). The speed and accuracy of the prototyping is like something from a sci fi film. The contractor studied her research and design requirements and later came out with a 3D design of the new improved version of the CC. The design is indeed a prototype of a new type of CC. After a month, the new stainless steel CC was successfully fabricated and tested. The new CC was proofed to be effective and excellent when applied for progressive freeze concentration study. The designed was then patented and my wife obtained her PhD in 2010 (besides publishing her work in various conferences and journals).
This is the improved version of the CC

My wife fought her battle and won it. I'm now in the same battle to complete my Ph.D. It is not easy and it requires serious efforts, sacrifices and hard work.  Why is that? Simply because we are studying something new and our output (discovery) is to contribute to the advancement of new knowledge to the academic and research community. My journey is almost there. I just need to work a little bit more to complete everything and submit my thesis.
If you are currently working on your doctorate study, I would like to wish you the best of luck and keep up the good work ethics + discipline. For those who plan to do so, be mentally prepared and plan your research work wisely.

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posted by Kipas Repair JB @ 8:34 PM,


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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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