Chemical Engineering

  • Applied Surface Chemistry
  • Chemical Engineering Design
  • Chemical Reaction Engineering
  • Environmental Inorganic Chemistry
  • Food Science
  • Forest Products and Chemical Engineering
The graduate school is organised within the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering.
Director of Graduate Studies: Claes Niklasson


(approved by the Pro-Vice-President on May 17, 2005. Ref. nr. C2005/604)
(revised May 21, 2007)
(revised April 18, 2013)
(revised November 25, 2016)

1 Subject description and programme aims

The research area Chemical engineering deals with the interaction between chemical and physical features in industrial chemical processes and products. The research covers both intrascientific basic research and applied research. The aim is to master industrial chemical processes and products so that they can be designed optimally, both from an environmental and financial point of view.

1.1 Special fields of research

1.1.1 Chemical Engineering Design
Chemical engineering design covers chemical production processes where impulse, heat and material transfer are of key significance. Research is, in general, focused on the design, upscaling, dimensioning and development of equipment as well as mathematical modelling for analysis and calculation of these operations.
Research at the division involves mathematical modeling, at multi-scales, supported by experiments, and applications are found in chemical-, pharmaceutical-, food-, pulp and paper, and automobile industries. The processes are often multiphase including particles and fibres, and we study both separation and mixing processes. Examples of research projects include: coating in fluidized beds, granulation (wet/dry), spray- and pneumatic drying, suspension/flocculation, microwave and freeze drying, flow of pulp fibres (wet/dry), steam explosion of wood material, and large scale chromatography.
1.1.2 Chemical Reaction Engineering
In the modern chemical industry the aim is to achieve high-quality products and minimize unwanted by-products. Selectivity in the reactor is particularly important in processes in which by-products cause environmental problems (e.g. NOx and CO in exhaust gases from automobiles). In processes where very high purity is required for legislative reasons, such as in the pharmaceutical industry, the cost of purification becomes important and reactor performance is of vital significance. Knowledge of the advantages and drawbacks of chemical reactor properties is therefore essential for all chemical and biochemical processes. Research in chemical reaction engineering includes the kinetics and dynamics of chemical and biochemical processes coupled with molecular mass transport phenomena. Other important research fields are turbulence modelling linked to chemical reaction, fermentation processes, catalyst deactivation, process control, stability and optimization.

Research areas are: Catalytic multiphase reactor system, deactivation of catalysts, new design of catalysts, chemical reaction and multiphase flow, exhaust gas catalysis, bio ethanol and biogas production from renewable resources, chemical process design.
1.1.3 Food Science
The food industry is very much a process-oriented industry. As food is a biological material characterised by considerable instability, special consideration must be given when in industrial processes the physical and/or chemical environment of the food changes. The research is focused on the application of mild process conditions to preserve the freshness and microbial safety of the food and also to apply supercritical processes to improving product quality and process economy.
1.1.4 Forest Products and Chemical Engineering
The aim of Forest products and chemical engineering is to provide knowledge in order to facilitate efficient and sustainable utilization of wood material. The research covers the development of processes for separation and further valorisation of wood components with focus on the Kraft process and its combinations with various biorefinery concepts. More precisely: pre-treatment strategies to recover sensitive structures prior to kraft cooking and kinetics of heterogeneous reactions (e.g. kraft cooking, production of CNC, precipitation of lignin and disintegration of lignin); downstream separation and fractionation (e.g. filtration, membrane separation and evaporation) and further modification of wood components (e.g. chemical modification and regeneration).
1.1.5 Applied Surface Chemistry
Applied Surface Chemistry covers technical applications of surface chemistry. Surface chemistry has its theoretical basis in physical chemistry and can be divided into 1) surface and colloid chemistry, mainly comprising solutions, and 2) solid surface chemistry. Surface chemistry can be found as part of technical solutions within many industries, from the food industry and pharmaceuticals to paper and mining industries, as well as in industries where the nature and reactivity of solid surfaces is crucial, such as in large parts of materials technology, where superabsorbents, catalysts, fuel cells, batteries and biomaterials are examples with extensive research in this field. The term surface and colloid chemistry includes the physicochemical properties and applications of surfactants and suspensions. The area is a central part of nanomaterials chemistry including the production of nanomaterials where the size and structure is controlled at the nanometer scale. In this area, the research pace is very high, and many high-tech materials are based on practices in this field. A further field concerns supramolecular chemistry and special investigations of structure as well as structure dynamics of such systems. Biopolymergels and cellulose fibers are examples of supramolecular systems studied. Transport of both water and substances dissolved in water in these systems are investigated with the help of, among other things, NMR diffusometry and various microscopy methods
1.1.6 Environmental Inorganic Chemistry
The overall research strategy within Environmental inorganic chemistry is to contribute with chemical and material-chemical aspects for the sustainable development of society.
Within combustion and gasification chemistry we study methods for flue gas purification and the environmentally friendly use of residual products. The soluble component and heavy metal content of the ash limits possible areas of use, and consequently we study different processes in order to stabilise or separate these components, e.g. in biofuel or waste combustion ash.
Atmospheric corrosion is studied in the laboratory and includes foundry metals, light metal alloys, stone materials and paper. The durability of different types of modern and traditional construction materials is an important area and we are working closely with the Centre for Environment and Sustainability, GMV, on the preservation of buildings and historic monuments. An important application for theoretical calculations in oxide chemistry is improved properties of concrete.

1.2 The aim of the PhD studies

- The doctoral programme will provide depth within the specific discipline and breadth throughout the whole of the chemico-technical field.
- The doctoral programme will be of such quality that the PhD students and licentiate students are attractive to the Swedish and international chemical industry.
- The doctoral programme will develop the individual's creativity and critical thinking.
- The research will be of such quality that the results can be published in internationally recognised scientific journals with referee examination.
- The graduate school will actively disseminate the research results outside the research community to companies and interested individuals.

2 Qualification and admission

To qualify for admission to the postgraduate program in chemical engineering a student must have completed a Master of Science in Engineering (Civilingenjör) or a Master of Science (Filosofie magister), or the equivalent. Students with equivalent degrees can be accepted to the program after special consideration. The student should also be judged to have the capacity to successfully complete a postgraduate research education. The decision of admission to the graduate program is taken by the Deputy Head of the Department after check-up and approval from the Director of Studies for the Graduate School in Chemical Engineering. For more details about admission requirements see the The Graduate Student Handbook (Doctoral Programmes – From Admission to Graduation).

3 Organization and structure of the program

For full-time students the programme is expected to require a net period of four years for a PhD and two years for a licentiate degree. The latter degree is strongly recommended as a stage along the path towards a PhD.

The programme includes teacher-led courses, reading of literature independently ("reading course"), thesis work and active participation in the seminars run at the graduate school and within the person's own subject specialisation. The emphasis in a doctoral programme should be on research which will lead to a PhD or licentiate thesis. The research should be equivalent to at least 75% of the nominal programme time. Testing of knowledge following courses can take place through written or oral examinations, submission of assignments, essays and seminars or in another appropriate manner. The grades for courses are either Pass or Fail.

3.1 Seminars

Within the graduate school at least one seminar day is held each year. Each doctoral student must once a year present his/her research at seminars/conferences. These seminars/conferences could have set themes and could be introduced by researchers from industry or other universities.

3.2 Courses

For details of the current range of courses, see the web site of the Department (the Swedish web site): Utbildning - Forskarutbildning - Kurser.
3.2.1 Mandatory courses at Chalmers
Common Chalmers courses: three higher education credits in education, three higher education credits in ethics and zero higher education credit for the ”General introduction for doctoral students”.

Doctoral students admitted after September 1, 2012, are required to take 15 credit points from the area of Generic and Transferable Skills during their graduate studies. Of these, 9 credit points are mandatory for the licentiate degree, and another 6 credit points for the PhD degree.

In addition to the courses within Generic and Transferable Skills, the student is also required to participate in the introduction day for doctoral students (before the licentiate examination, at latest). Further requirements are an oral popular science presentation to be performed prior to the PhD thesis defence and a written popular science presentation to be published on the back of the PhD thesis.

Get more information:

4 Theses

4.1 Licentiate thesis

A licentiate thesis requires that the scientific work is presented in the form of a report, which may either be in the form of a monograph or a collection of articles together with an introduction. The requirements of independence and scientific stingency are similar to those applicable to a doctoral thesis but are applied to a lesser degree. Before the printing of the licentiate thesis it should be examined by the Director of Graduate Studies in Chemical Engineering if at least half of the articles are published in peer reviewed journals. If this is not the case, the licenciate thesis should be examined by two referees. A licentiate thesis is presented at a public seminar and according to the regulations of Chalmers University of Technology. For more details, see the Chalmers web site Education – Doctoral Programmes - From Admission to Graduation.

4.2 Doctoral thesis

A doctoral thesis requires that the scientific work is presented in the form of a report, which may either be in the form of a monograph or a collection of articles together with an introduction. The thesis should be written in English. The quality of a doctoral thesis should be such that it can be published in a high-standing, international journal and stand up to peer review. The thesis should demonstrate a high level of independence and scientific stringency. The thesis will be publicly defended in accordance with rules of Chalmers University of Technology.
In order to assure the quality of a thesis before the public defence, a preliminary version of the thesis should be previewed by the opponent and the graduate committee. The thesis should be sent for preview no later than three months before the defence, and written statements should be returned to the department no later than two months before the defence. There are special rules for a doctoral thesis at the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering.
For more details, see the Chalmers web site Education – Doctoral Programmes – From Admission to Graduation.

5 Requirements for the degree

5.1 Licentiate degree

The licentiate degree program consists of 120 higher education credits. Course work amounting to at least 30 higher education credits, but up to 60 higher education credits, and research work amounting to at least 60 higher education credits, but typically 90 higher education credits, and culminating in a licentiate thesis report, should be completed for the licentiate degree.

5.2 Doctoral degree

The doctoral degree program consists of 240 higher education credits. Course work amounting to at least 30 higher education credits, but up to 60 higher education credits, and research work amounting to at least 120 higher education credits, but typically 180 higher education credits, and culminating in a doctoral thesis report, should be completed for the doctoral degree.

6 Supervision

A postgraduate student is entitled to receive academic advice and guidance from the department at which he or she is pursuing doctoral work for the equivalent of four years' full-time study, or two years' full-time study for students pursuing the licentiate degree.
Each postgraduate student is assigned an examiner. The student shall also have a main advisor (supervisor) who should have expertise in the subject area of the thesis work, and at least one additional co-advisor. The examiner and supervisor can be the same person.
Following admission to the graduate program, the student, in consultation with the supervisor, examiner, and with the Director of Studies of the Chalmers Graduate School in Chemical Engineering, must formulate an individual plan of study and a time plan for the student’s education.

7 Examination of proficiency

The content of courses is tested by written and/or oral examinations. Postgraduate students can receive the grades of pass or fail.

8 Organization of the Graduate School in Chemical Engineering

The Deputy Head of the Department is responsible for the doctoral education at the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering. The Director of Studies is responsible for the Graduate School in Chemical Engineering. There is also a Committee for research and PhD studies at the Department.

Published: Fri 08 May 2020.