Professor Jonathan Seville FREng, FIChemE

Professor Jonathan Seville

School of Chemical Engineering
Professor of Formulation Engineering

Contact details

School of Chemical Engineering
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Jonathan Seville is Professor of Formulation Engineering at the University of Birmingham.

Formulation Engineering concerns the design, manufacture and use of products which are structured to create desirable effects when they are consumed or used. Examples are foods, pharmaceuticals, fast-moving consumer goods such as cleaners, and speciality products such as paints, catalysts, detergents and agrochemicals. Such products are usually carefully structured at the micro-or nano-scale and this structure is a function of their process history.

Formulation Engineering includes study of the physical, chemical and biological processes that create formulated product structure and the maintenance or breakdown of that structure in use. Jonathan is currently working part-time within the Positron Imaging Centre, a joint venture between the School of Chemical Engineering and School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Birmingham. His research makes use of Positron Emission Particle Tracking (PEPT), a powerful technique which was invented at Birmingham for following complex flow behaviour in opaque systems. 

Professor Seville is also part of the Birmingham Plastics Network, an interdisciplinary team of more than 40 academics working together to shape the fate and sustainable future of plastics.  This unique team brings together chemists, environmental scientists, philosophers, linguists, economists, and experts in many other fields, to holistically address the global plastics problem.


  • PhD in Chemical Engineering, University of Surrey, 1987
  • MEng in Chemical Engineering, University of Cambridge, 1994
  • MA in Chemical Engineering, University of Cambridge, 1983
  • BA in Chemical Engineering, University of Cambridge, 1979


Jonathan Seville is a Chartered Chemical Engineer and a Fellow and Past President (2016-17) of the Institution of Chemical Engineers. He is also a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, for which he chairs its Education and Skills Committee, and a member of the Board of the Engineering Council, chairing its Registration Standards Committee.

Before returning in 2017 to his current post as Professor at the University of Birmingham, Jonathan was Executive Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences at the University of Surrey (2011-2016), Dean of Engineering at the University of Warwick (2008-11), and Head of Chemical Engineering at the University of Birmingham (1998-2008), where he established the UK’s first research centre in Formulation Engineering (2001) and co-founded the Positron Imaging Centre, which has pioneered the use of positron-emitting radioactive tracers in engineering studies.

Throughout his career, Jonathan has championed the application of chemical engineering to the design and manufacture of products for the pharmaceutical, home care and fast-moving consumer goods industries, working with the UK Research Councils, Unilever Research, Procter & Gamble, Rhône-Poulenc, Astra Zeneca, BP, Weetabix, United Biscuits, Huntsman Tioxide, Merck Sharp and Dohme, GSK, Pfizer, Siemens and GEA Pharma Systems. He is also active in energy- and environment-related projects, including plastics recycling and the circular economy, and co-founded the successful Swindon-based spin-out company Recycling Technologies.

Postgraduate supervision

Jonathan Seville undertakes postgraduate student supervision in conjunction with Dr Andy Ingram. Both are currently supervising two Chemical Engineering Masters projects, and are recruiting for an Engineering Doctorate student.

More information about the CDT Formulation Engineering programme.


Jonathan is a member of the Particle and Multiphase Processes research group in the School of Chemical Engineering.
Most of his research is carried out in partnership with Dr Andy Ingram. Current projects include the following:

  • Collaboration with Okayama University, Japan (Prof Kenya Kuwagi) on motion in vibro-fluidised beds
  • Collaboration with a consortium of North American researchers, led by Prof John Grace at the University of British Columbia, on measurement techniques for use in fluidised beds
  • A collaborative Discrete Element Method (DEM) validation study with multiple industrial partners, funded by the International Fine Particle Research Institute, led by Chemours and Johnson Matthey and involving 10 other companies with particle technology interests
  • A range of industry-specific research projects, particularly for the pharmaceutical industry and involving particle flow and formulation engineering of aggregation and coating problems

Other activities

  • Royal Academy of Engineering, Chair of the Education and Skills Committee (2017-present)
  • Engineering Council, Trustee Board Member (2012-present) and Chair of the Registration Standards Committee (2016-present)
  • Institution of Chemical Engineers, Trustee Board Member (2003-10; 2015-18) and President (2016-17)
  • Visiting Professor, University of Surrey (2017-present)
  • Member of international advisory committee, Graz University of Technology Research Center for Pharmaceutical Engineering, Austria (2008-present )
  • Consultant to Recycling Technologies


  • Seville, J.P.K. and Wu, C.-Y. (2016), Particle Technology and Engineering, An Engineer's Guide to Particles and Powders: Fundamentals and Computational Approaches,  eBook ISBN: 9780080983448, Hardcover ISBN: 9780080983370, Oxford, Butterworth-Heinemann. Textbook for industrial practitioners and advanced students of particle technology. 
  • Li, Q., Huang, D., Lu, T., Seville, J.P.K., Xing, L. and Leeke, G.A. (2017), Supercritical fluid coating of API on excipient enhances drug release, Chemical Engineering Journal, 313: 317-327. Nanosized pharmaceutically-active particles have been shown to have superior bioavailability but are difficult to handle and process into product form. This work demonstrates a one-step processing solution in which nanosized actives are very rapidly precipitated and simultaneously attached to carrier particles of several hundred micrometres, which can be taken directly to product form.
  • Ansart, R., García-Triñanes, P., Boissière, B., Benoit, H., Seville, J.P.K., Simonin, O. (2017), Dense gas-particle suspension upward flow used as heat transfer fluid in solar receiver: PEPT experiments and 3D numerical simulations, Powder Technology, 307 (2017) 126-137.
  • García-Triñanes, P., Seville, J.P.K., Ansart, R., Benoit, H., Leadbeater, T.W. and Parker, D.J. (2018), Particle motion and heat transfer in an upward-flowing dense particle suspension: Application in solar receivers, Chemical Engineering Science, 177: 313-322. One of the simplest schemes for obtaining power from the sun is “direct”, or “concentrated” solar, where array of mirrors are used to concentrate focus the sun’s light onto a container through which some heat transfer medium flows. This medium carries the heat away into a conventional steam-generating circuit. A possible approach is to use fluidised particles of a heat-resistant material such as silicon carbide as the heat transfer medium. These two papers contain some of the results of a major EU consortium project resulting in a successful “on-sun” demonstration in CNRS’s test site in southern France, reported in 
  • Gear, M., Sadhukhan, J., Thorpe, R., Clift, R., Seville, J. and Keast, M. (2018), A life cycle assessment data analysis toolkit for the design of novel processes – A case study for the thermal cracking process for mixed plastic waste, J. Cleaner Production, 180: 735-747. One approach to dealing with waste plastic is to crack it back to a molecular hydrocarbon form, which can be used as an oil substitute. To do so, it is obviously desirable to design a process which minimises the environmental burden arising from the process operations themselves. This paper illustrates an LCA-based way of doing this, and its application to a process under development at the company “Recycling Technologies”.
  • Valdesueiro, D., Garcia-Triñanes, P., Meesters, G.M.H., Kreutzer, M.T., Gargiuli, J., Leadbeater, T.W., Parker, D.J., Seville, J.P.K. and van Ommen, J.R. (2016), Enhancing the activation of silicon carbide tracer particles for PEPT applications using gas-phase deposition of alumina at room temperature and atmospheric pressure, Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research Section A, 807: 108-113. New method of creating positron-emitting tracers for use in PEPT.
  • Lian, G. and Seville, J.P.K. (2016), The capillary bridge between two spheres: New closed-form equations in a two century old problem, Advances in Colloid and Interface Science, 227: 53-62. Computational paper demonstrating a new approach to calculation of liquid bridge properties, as part of a collaboration with Unilever on food formulation.
  • Tebianian, S., Dubrawski, K., Ellis, N., Cocco, R.A., Hays, R.,  Reddy Karri, S.B., Leadbeater, T.W., Parker, D.J., Chaouki, J., Jafari, R., Garcia-Trinanes, P., Seville, J.P.K. and Grace, J.R. (2016), Comparison of particle velocity measurement techniques in a fluidized bed operating in the square-nosed slugging flow regime, Powder Technology, 296: 45-52
  • Tebianian, S., Dubrawski, K., Ellis, N., Cocco, R.A., Hays, R.,  Reddy Karri, S.B., Leadbeater, T.W., Parker, D.J., Chaouki, J., Jafari, R., Garcia-Trinanes, P., Seville, J.P.K. and Grace, J.R. (2016), Solids flux measurements via alternate techniques in a gas-fluidized bed, Chemical Engineering Journal, 306: 306-321. The two papers above arise from a collaborative UK-Canadian project, led by Prof John Grace at the University of British Columbia, aimed at comparing measurement techniques, including PEPT, in a pilot scale fluidized bed. I was the UK lead.
  • García-Triñanes, P., Seville, J.P.K., Boissière, B., Ansart, R., Leadbeater, T.W. and Parker, D.J. (2016), Hydrodynamics and particle motion in upward flowing dense particle suspensions: Application in solar receivers, Chemical Engineering Science, 146: 346-356
  • Output from an EU project aimed at a novel design of direct solar power plant, using granular solids for heat transfer. Work uses PEPT to investigate solids motion. A collaboration primarily with CNRS in France.
  • Thornton, C., Yang F. and Seville, J. (2015), A DEM investigation of transitional behaviour in gas-fluidised beds, Powder Technology, 270: 128–134. This paper is output from a combined experimental (PEPT)/computational EPSRC project for which the author was the PI while at the University of Birmingham.
  • Tebianian, S., Dubrawski, K., Ellis, N., Cocco, R.A., Hays, R.,  Reddy Karri, S.B., Leadbeater, T.W., Parker, D.J., Chaouki, J., Jafari, R., Garcia-Trinanes, P., Seville, J.P.K. and Grace, J.R, Investigation of particle velocity in FCC gas-fluidized beds based on different measurement techniques (2015), Chemical Engineering Science, 127: 310-322. As above, this paper arises from a collaborative UK-Canadian project, led by Prof John Grace at the University of British Columbia, aimed at comparing measurement techniques in a pilot scale fluidized bed. I was the UK lead.
  • Kinugasa, T., Kuwagi, K., Leadbeater, T.W., Gargiuli, J., Parker, D.J., Seville, J.P.K. Yoshida, K. and Amano, H. (2015), Three-dimensional dynamic imaging of sand particles under wheel via gamma-ray camera system, Journal of Terramechanics, 62: 5-17. This paper arises from a collaborative Japanese (Okayama)-UK project to measure granular movement under the wheels of planetary rovers, making use of PEPT. I arranged for the Japanese to visit Birmingham in order to undertake the measurements, helped plan the experiments and edited the publication.
  • Denissenko, P., Guyez, E., Thomas, P.J., Parker, D.J. and Seville, J.P.K. (2014), Positron emission tracking of individual particles in particle-laden rimming flow, Physics of Fluids, 26: 053304. PEPT applied for the first time to understanding of motion in this very curious solid-liquid segregating system. Results provide insight into the relation between behaviour of individual particles and the complex spatiotemporal dynamics displayed in the macroscopic particle-segregation patterns.
  • Leeke, G.A., Lu, T., Bridson, R.H., and Seville, J.P.K. (2014), Application of nano-particle coatings to carrier particles using an integrated fluidized bed supercritical fluid precipitation process, Journal of Supercritical Fluids, 91: 7-14 A novel nanoparticle manufacturing method, based on an EPSRC project initially awarded while at Birmingham. A new concept for integrated drug product manufacture.
  • Tu, W.-D., Ingram, A. and Seville, J.P.K. (2013), Regime map development for continuous twin screw granulation, Chemical Engineering Science, 87: 315-326. One of the first experimental studies of continuous granulation – a technique now being adopted in the pharmaceutical industry.
  • Yang, F., Thornton, C. and Seville, J.P.K. (2013), Effect of surface energy on the transition from fixed to bubbling gas-fluidised beds, Chemical Engineering Science, 90: 119-129. First full computational study of this important transition, incorporating surface energy at a fundamental level.
  • Mahmoudi, S., Chan, C.W., Brems, A., Seville, J.P.K. and Baeyens, J. (2012), Solids flow diagram of a CFB riser using Geldart B-type powders, Particuology, 10: 51-61. CFB = circulating fluidised bed, as used in chemical reactions and combustion/gasification processes.
  • Wu, C.-Y., Fan, X.F., Parker, D.J., Motazedian, F., Seville, J.P.K., & Cocks, A.C.F (2010), Quantitative investigation of powder flow during die filling using positron emission particle tracking, Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part E: Journal of Process Mechanical Engineering, 224: 169-175.
  • Guo, Y., Kafui, K.D., Wu, C.-Y., Thornton, C. and Seville, J.P.K. (2009), A coupled DEM/CFD analysis of the effect of air on powder flow during die filling, AIChE Journal, 55: 49-62. Die filling speed in pharmaceutical manufacture is limited by flow of the pre-compacted solids into the die. These two papers are an experimental study using PEPT and the first fully 3D model of the process, for which a purpose-built code was assembled incorporating physically-realistic Discrete Element Modelling of the solids interactions, including cohesion, with Computational Fluid Mechanics for the gas. The code is now in use with Pfizer to improve equipment design for pharmaceutical production.  
  • Chan, C.W., Seville, J.P.K., Fan. X. and Baeyens, J. (2009), Particle Motion in CFB cyclones as observed by Positron Emission Particle Tracking, Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research, 48: 253-261. This is the first direct experimental observation of single particle trajectories in cyclones, which are ubiquitous in industrial operations where solids must be separated from gases. The findings explain the anomalous behaviour of cyclones under heavy solids loadings, leading to better cyclone design for such operations.
  • Miguélez-Morán, A.M., Wu, C.-Y., Dong, H. and Seville, J.P.K. (2009), Characterisation of density distributions in roller-compacted ribbons using micro-indentation and X-ray micro-computed tomography, European Journal of Pharmaceutics and Biopharmaceutics, 72: 173-182. Roller compaction is one stage in a continuous pharmaceutical production operation, a relatively novel concept in the industry, to which the authors has contributed in a number of papers analysing the compaction operation and the properties of the resulting compacts. It is demonstrated how conventional roller design leads to non-uniform feeding and therefore non-uniform compact properties.