About us

Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs) draw on diverse areas of expertise to train engineers and scientists. Bringing together industry and academia, CDTs equip students with the knowledge and skills to solve real-world issues, offering the opportunity to forge a sustainable, lasting approach to professional doctoral training.  

Having been successful in our reapplication for funding, the CDT Formulation Engineering will focus on Sustainable Manufacture.  There are two strategic themes to the new grant (first cohort of which started in September 2019):

  1. Manufacturing and Manufacturability of New Materials for New Markets: ‘M4’; and
  2. Data and Industry4.0: “Towards 4.0rmulation”. 

Our vision is to be a world-leading provider of research and training, equipping graduates with the skills needed to manufacture the next generation of sustainable formulated products, spanning numerous industry sectors.

What is Formulation Engineering?

Formulation engineering concentrates on research into the physical, chemical and biological processes that create formulated product structure and the maintenance or breakdown of that structure in use.  Classical process engineering is concerned with the processing of simple chemicals on a bulk scale (for example petroleum products and intermediate bulk chemicals), the physical properties of which can be described using thermodynamics.

However, modern processes are concerned with the creation and production of materials whose structure is complex for which the process history becomes important.  Examples of these materials include food, pharmaceutical and speciality products such as paints, catalyst supports, polymer films, cosmetics, detergents and agrochemicals.  In all of these, the material microstructure controls the physical and chemical properties which are essential to their function.  To process these materials efficiently requires combined understanding of the chemistry, process and material science.

Find out more about our Formulation Engineering research. 

Theme 1: M4 

This theme develops from our existing expertise on microstructure manufacture, and extends it to consider both sustainability and new manufacturing methods. 

Our projects will look to create new sustainable formulated products will require new understanding of:

  • Scale -up and the stability and predictability of processes; this is critical in reducing time-to-market of new formulations, and in moving from batch to continuous manufacture;
  • Creation of radical effect: understanding how formulated products can be designed to be able to deliver new performance and commercial growth; eliminating the trial-and error approaches often used, and minimising the need for high-throughput screening;
  • Green formulation: using non-petrochemical or recycled materials; a major challenge as the Formulation industries diversify from oil;
  • Clean or sterile manufacturing: minimising waste through better design of equipment and cleaning/changeover protocols;
  • Distributed and additive manufacture of formulated products: the definition and operation of possible new routes to create formulated products, with local manufacture and customization to create personalized products.

Theme 2: Industry4.0 

Industrial Digital Technologies are becoming the standard entry point for competitive companies. The formulation sector can learn from aerospace and automotive companies in implementation; we will work with Catapult Centres both for training and research in how digital manufacturing will transform formulated product manufacture, and to create project opportunities for our industry partners. The CDT already has projects with links with I4.0 concepts, such as:

  • the High Temperature Research Centre (HTRC) co-located with the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) at Coventry and created with £60m of HEFCE/Rolls-Royce and University investment. Several Rolls-Royce sponsored CDT projects are already underway at HTRC.
  • work with industry on projects on sensors and  modelling in formulation – for example. Work with Industrial Tomography Systems and Johnson Matthey.

As part of this theme, we are modifying the taught programme to include courses on experimental design, data handling and modelling, and I 4.0.