PhD Opportunity in Chemical Engineering


The effect of reaction on the Hydrodynamics and Mass Transfer rate in Rotating Packed Bed for CO2 capture by Absorption”



RM 2300 per month for 3 years

The position will be filled as soon as possible with a starting date no later than 1st April 2019.



  1. A Malaysian
  2. Willingness to learn new things and to conduct breakthrough research.
  3. A Master by research degree or Bachelor degree with a minimum GPA/CGPA score of 3.67 (average mark >75%) in Chemical Engineering,
  4. A good understanding of the basics of Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) and command of the commercial CFD software Ansys
  5. Good command of written and spoken English (e.g. IELTS: overall band of 6.5 and no individual band below 6.0).



This research is a part of the project funded by Ministry of Education of Malaysia through Fundamental Research Grant Scheme (FRGS) 2019 – 2021. The PhD scholarship will cover full tuition-fee and annual stipend of MYR 27600.



The PhD project will be supervised by A/Prof. Perumal Kumar and A/Prof Agus Saptoro of Curtin Malaysia and Professor T. Murugesan of UTP, Malaysia.



Rotating packed bed (RPB) is a process intensified device with significantly better mass transfer performance compared to the conventional packed bed.  Because of this advantage, RPB is widely used in industrial processes such as absorption, stripping, adsorption, distillation, nanoparticle production and reactive crystallisation.  Recently, it is also being used for CO2 capture from combustion flue gases by chemical absorption process employing solvents such as MEA and pottassium carbonate. 

Gas – Liquid mass transfer coefficient is a key parameter in the design, evaluation and optimization of RPB.  The mass transfer coefficient can be determined by one of the following methods i.e. (i) Analytical or Theoretical method (ii) Experiments (iii) Empirical or Semi Empirical correlations (iv) Computational method.  Because of the complexity of the process (mass transfer with reaction) analytical models are often simplified with assumptions to make the model amenable to analytical solution. Such a model hardly makes an accurate prediction of the mass transfer coefficient. The experimental approach, with its inherent limitations (expensive and tedious) does not offer a complete knowledge of the underlying transfer processes (hydrodynamics and mass transfer) and the determination of the mass transfer coefficient by experiments becomes a time consuming and costly affair.  Hence, researchers often resort to the semi empirical correlations which does not require a detailed understanding of the and mass transfer.  They are simple and practical but suffer from lack of generalization.  Moreover, semi empirical correlations are not available for MEA – CO2 and K2CO3 – CO2 systems. 

The advancement in the computing technology has enabled the application of Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) techniques to study the hydrodynamics and mass transfer in several industrial equipments and processes in an efficient and economical manner. CFD has also been used to study the RPB for CO2 absorption.  But only the physical absorption has been modelled to determine the mass transfer coefficient. As the mass transfer is enhanced by the reaction, inclusion of reaction kinetics in the modelling is important for the accurate prediction of the mass transfer coefficient.  To the best our knowledge, reactive absorption is not modelled yet even for the most popular energy intensive MEA – CO2 post combustion carbon capture system. Hence this project proposes to study the effect of reaction on the hydrodynamics and mass transfer by CFD modelling and determine mass transfer coefficient for the MEA – CO2 and the K2CO3 – CO2 systems.

The employment of an appropriate turbulence model is essential for achieving an accurate simulation as different turbulence models have respective adaptability. The two-phase flow in an RPB can be turbulent depending on the packings and the rate of the fluid flow. However, the presence of the packings can have a significant damping effect on the turbulence. The liquid film flow within the boundary layers of the packing surfaces develops from being laminar flow to being fully developed turbulence flow depending the location and thickness of the film and thus can be partially turbulent.  Previous Researchers selected the most elaborate type of turbulence model: the Reynolds stress model (RSM) for the closure of the Reynolds-averaged Navier-Stokes equations. However, in this model, five and seven additional equations should be solved in a 2D and 3D calculation domain, respectively. This substantially increases the calculation time and requires more computational memory. Therefore, Xie et al (2017) tested several two equation eddy-viscosity turbulence models, including the standard, shear-stress transport (SST) k-omega models and the standard, RNG, realizable k-epsilon models with enhanced wall functions and found the SST k – omega model to be performing as good as the RSM model.  But in a chemical absorption process the performance of the SST is yet to be tested. 




Potential candidates should contact:


A/Professor Perumal Kumar

Ph.D (ICT Mumbai), FIEAust, CPEng, NER, FHEA, FIE, CEng, MHERDSA

Associate Professor | Department of Chemical Engineering/FOES

Curtin University Malaysia
Tel | +60 85 442413 (GMT +8)
Fax | +60 85 443838
Mobile | +60 014 9951041

Email |
Web |