Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Professor Volker Hessel Seminar

Flow and Plasma Chemistry – Disruptive Technologies Transform Industry through Theme-based Approach

Volker Hessel, School of Chemical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Computer & Mathematical Sciences, University of Adelaide
Wednesday 10th April 2019 12-1pm, buffet lunch 1-2pm
Room MS.02, Zeeman Building, University of Warwick

Registration is required. See bottom of page to register.

Professor Volker Hessel

At our Faculty at the University of Adelaide, we have developed a unique Theme-based approach which truly leads to an interdisciplinary research outcome (as opposed to multidisciplinary), and this is a cross-faculty and cross-discipline action. Core is a selection and targeting of industrial windows of opportunity to be translated to an industrial showcases, which is followed by technology development and stakeholder engagement. Outcome is an aim for transformative change of industry by disruptive technologies, breaking with existing approaches, and pharmaceutical industry was changed that way. This offers release of large sustainability gains and leads to entirely new business models. This will be exemplified along four lines.

Novel Process Windows (2006-2018) Flow Chemistry provides chemical intensification. Novel Process Windows (NPW) achieve the latter through exploration of unusual and typically harsh process conditions with much enhanced activation and also chance for different selectivity pattern [Hessel, ChemSusChem 2013]. Several flow chemistries were developed via high-T, high-p, high-c (solvent-free; alternative solvent) concepts, leading to a boost of reactivity. This is complemented by the implementation of new smart electromagnetic activation modes (photo, plasma) as powerful alternative to temperature activation. Once the single processing steps are intensified, they can be brought to a higher level of process integration and simplification by complete continuous end-to-end manufacturing.

Solvent Factory (2017 onward) The FET-Open project ONE-FLOW translates the ‘vertical hierarchy’ of chemical multistep synthesis with its complex machinery into self-organising ‘horizontal hierarchy’ of a compartmentalized flow reactor system ( The new concept of a ‘Solvent Factory’ uses multi-phase liquids as integrated reactor-separator; ideally without need of any post-processing and –purification steps. This switch from hardware- to soft matter processing tools is especially beneficial, when approaching multi-step reactions with its many reactors and separators, and replacing them by one.

Fertilizing with Wind (2014 onward) Plasma-enabled chemical nitrogen fixation using air (N2) allows to manufacture NO/NO2 which can be further converted to yield nitric acid by absorption in aqueous solution. In a similar way, nitrogen and hydrogen can be reacted by plasma catalysis to give ammonia. In this way, fertilisers can be made “out of air” and using wind as green energy source. It will be discussed how this can lead to a transformation of agriculture to a precision horticulture. This is currently implemented in Uganda, as much growing AgTech nation, and e-agriculture, based on ICT using mobile phones, is a cross-discipline enabler. With U Warwick, the ERC Synergy research offers a large opportunity for fundamental revisit of plasma catalysis and its symbiosis.

Space manufacturing (2018 onward) Space medicine is already now a business case and the next cancer drug might be developed in space. Space mining is at the edge to become a business case. Space farming is a mid-term development issue, and plasma based N-fixation can play a key role. Own research has started on flow-made quantum dots for satellite decoy and flow-based extraction of artificial asteroid ores, posing adjacent metal separation issues not known on earth. A think tank analysis has been made on medicines and nanoformulations being stable to cosmic rays. Space manufacturing is off-earth manufacturing - the advanced technologies are for use in deep sea, in dry lands, and other disruptive scenarios.

To enable us to cater for enough people, please indicate if you will stay for the networking lunch after the lecture. (required)
Privacy notice
Thank you for your registration. Please note that email addresses are only requested to provide you with information regarding this lecture. They will not be used for any other purpose.

The University of Warwick is the Data Controller of any information you have entered on this form and is committed to protecting the rights of individuals in line with Data Protection Legislation. The University's Data Protection webpages provide further information on your rights and how the University processes personal data. If you wish to submit a data subjects rights request, make a complaint or report a suspected personal data breach, please contact the University’s Data Protection Officer by email at

Spam prevention

Failure to load reCAPTCHA

reCAPTCHA is a utility used to verify you're not a robot filling out this form. Unfortunately this has failed to load correctly.

Please try reloading the page. If the problem persists, or if you are in a country which blocks Google products, please contact us by using the ‘page contact’ link at the foot of this page.