AN Egyptian-born scientist based in Yorkshire is making big strides in research that will help the chemical industry become more environmentally friendly and economically efficient.
Ahmed Elmekawy, of Huddersfield University, has passed a major personal milestone with the award of his PhD.
Examiners approved his thesis without requiring any corrections, which is a rare distinction.
As a result, Dr Elmekawy has received a Vice-Chancellor’s Award for an outstanding research degree thesis. He was supervised in his three-year project by Professor Rob Brown.
Now Dr Elmekawy is continuing with his research, which aims to develop new types of solid catalyst for chemical processes. The materials he works on hold two types of catalytic centre – acidic and basic – a combination not possible with a single liquid catalyst.
“The project is aimed directly at reducing the environmental impact of the chemical syntheses that are currently used in industry,” said Dr Elmekawy.
“Over decades, thousands of liquid phase chemical processes have been developed using liquid acid and liquid base catalysts. These catalysts are very active, but they result in a large amount of effluent as they are removed from the processes. Replacing them with solid catalysts would immediately reduce the amount of effluent generated.”
After obtaining a BSc degree in Physical and Chemical Sciences at Tanta University in his native Egypt, Dr Elmekawy worked as head of the chemical department for a Saudi-based company before relocating to the UK – “which has the best education in the world”.
He selected the University of Huddersfield, after being impressed by various factors, including its high employability rate among former students.
He studied for an MSc in analytical chemistry, scoring a distinction, before moving on to PhD research. Dr Elmekawy is now continuing with post-doctoral work at the university.