Whether they are producing medicines, plastics or fuels, chemical plants around the must be designed and operated in a way that is efficient, effective and most importantly, safe.
Professor Ariel Chan (ChemE) is an expert in scaling up chemical manufacturing processes — from making millilitres in the lab to tonnes in the chemical plant — while adhering to the highest standards of safety. She recently joined the Department of Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry as an Assistant Professor. U of T Engineering writer Tyler Irving sat down with Chan to find out more:
Can you explain the focus of your work?
My research/teaching focus is in chemical process scale-up and safety analysis. I am using simulation software to translate bench-top research into industrial scale production.
For example, we might ask: what are the most economical designs and sizes of process equipment, such as pipes, reactors and heat exchangers? How should we arrange these operation units to get the best product quality, while maintaining high standards of safety? How do changing process conditions and construction materials affect the key performance indicators for our plant?
When all the factors come together, we can ensure that we meet the triple bottom line of economics, environment and social license to operate.
Why did you choose U of T Engineering?
U of T Engineering has rich culture in research and teaching. I have great colleagues and a dynamic students body that will be extremely valuable in advancing my teaching and research career. Also, U of T has a great location in the metropolitan city, allowing easy access and integration of many city resources.
What do you hope to accomplish/ what are you most looking forward to in your new position?
I am very looking forward to working/collaborating with my colleagues for multidisciplinary projects. Also, I am very exciting about using the pilot-scale unit operation labs for experiential learning and teaching of science and engineering concepts to undergraduate students.