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PhD CASE Studentship with Sterling Pharma Solutions: Innovative 3D-Printed Reactors for Rapid Scale-up of Pharmaceutical Production

Project Description

Number of awards


Start date and duration

September 2020, 4 years


The aim of the project is to use 3D printing in the development of novel reactors for the production of pharmaceutical intermediates.

Despite its potential, and considerable publicity, 3D printing has not yet changed the way that we manufacture chemicals, foods, pharmaceuticals etc. The Process Intensification Group (PIG) at Newcastle uses the technology across all its research, and is perhaps World-leading in the diversity of 3DP use in chemical engineering. The PIG has developed various new process technologies using the technique, including new reactors, separators and fluidised beds, and the technology is thoroughly ’embedded’ within the group, with almost all research students in the group using 3DP. Students even print out various nuts, bolts and supports for their experiments.

The Process Intensification Group, with ~70 active researchers, the largest of its type in the World. The research within such a large group is necessarily diverse, but the group is World-leading in a number of areas. The website gives an overview of the personnel and projects.

Sterling Pharma Solutions are a significant local employer, with almost 400 staff at their World headquarters at Dudley (near Cramlington) site.

This should have various advantages:
•’Greener processing’. It should make the production of the entities more efficient, as the reactor is ’tailored’ to the reaction. This typically significantly reduces solvent usage, one of the key aims in ’green chemistry’, reducing the environmental impact of the process.
•More economic process development. It will allow rapid, efficient process screening for laboratory scale i.e. the optimal operating conditions for the reaction will be rapidly determined, which will save time and money.
•Smaller processes. It should reduce the degree of scale-up required. This reduces the time-to-production, which is a key element in the process economics of the pharmaceuticals industry.
•Improved safety. Combined, the reduced scale, improved control and reduced solvent inventory will render the process inherently safer.


Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and Sterling Pharma Solutions

Name of supervisor(s)

Professor Adam Harvey -

Dr Fernando Abegao -

Dr Jonathan McDonough -

Eligibility Criteria

The award is available to UK/EU applicants only. Depending on how you meet the EPSRC’s eligibility criteria, you may be entitled to a full or a partial award.

Applicants must have, or expecting a 2.1 or above MEng Chemical Engineering, or equivalent.

How to apply

You must apply through the University’s online postgraduate application system -

You will need to:
•insert the programme code 8030F in the programme of study section
•select ‘PhD Chemical Engineering (full time) - Chemical Engineering’ as the programme of study
•insert the studentship code CAS20-04 in the studentship/partnership reference field
•attach a covering letter and CV. The covering letter must state the title of the studentship, quote reference code CAS20-04 and state how your interests and experience relate to the project
•attach degree transcripts and certificates and, if English is not your first language, a copy of your English language qualifications


Funding Notes

Full UK/EU fees (eligibility criteria applies to EU students) and annual living allowance of £15,009 plus an industrial top up.

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