The Department of Chemical Engineering is located on Thornton Science Park, a modern expressly-designed site that profits from a recently-completed multi-million pound renovation that has created a state-of-the-art teaching and research facility. The site was home to Shell UK’s exploration and research centre since the 1940s, and its takeover by the University heralded the opportunity to apply its legacy to the continuation of world-class innovation and research in the North West.

Recent Submissions

  • Dietary restriction and ageing: Recent evolutionary perspectives

    Mc Auley, Mark; University of Chester (Elsevier, 2022-09-24)
    Dietary restriction (DR) represents one of the most robust interventions for extending lifespan. It is not known how DR increases lifespan. The prevailing evolutionary hypothesis suggests the DR response redirects metabolic resources towards somatic maintenance at the expense of investment in reproduction. Consequently, DR acts as a proximate mechanism which promotes a pro-longevity phenotype. This idea is known as resource reallocation. However, growing findings suggest this paradigm could be incomplete. It has been argued that during DR it is not always possible to identify a trade-off between reproduction and lifespan. It is also suggested the relationship between reproduction and somatic maintenance can be uncoupled by the removal or inclusion of specific nutrients. These findings have created an imperative to re-explore the nexus between DR and evolutionary theory. In this review I will address this evolutionary conundrum. My overarching objectives are fourfold: (1) to outline some of the evidence for and against resource reallocation; (2) to examine recent findings which have necessitated a theoretical re-evaluation of the link between life history theory and DR; (3) to present alternatives to the resource reallocation model; (4) to present emerging variables which potentially influence how DR effects evolutionary trade-offs.
  • Cholesterol transport in blood, lipoproteins, and cholesterol metabolism.

    Mc Auley, Mark T.; Morgan, Amy; University of Chester (Elsevier, 2022-04-26)
    The aim of this chapter is to critically discuss recent work which has focused on the dynamics of cholesterol transport and its intersection with health. Firstly, we provide an overview of the main lipoproteins, and their role in whole-body cholesterol metabolism. We then focus on low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), paying particular attention to a diverse array of evidence which associates perturbations to these lipoproteins with cardiovascular disease (CVD). Next, we explain how aging and obesity disrupt the biological mechanisms that regulate cholesterol metabolism. Crucially, we reveal the parallels between aging and obesity, underscoring that obesity superimposed on the aging process has the potential to exacerbate the age-related dysregulation of cholesterol metabolism. Following this, we unveil how mathematical modeling can be used to deepen our understanding of cholesterol metabolism. We conclude the chapter by discussing the future of this area; in doing so, we reveal how recent experimental findings could open the way for novel therapeutic approaches which could help maintain optimal blood lipoprotein levels and thus increase health span.
  • A Mathematical Model which Examines Age-Related Stochastic Fluctuations in DNA Maintenance Methylation

    Zagkos, Loukas; Roberts, Jason; Mc Auley, Mark T.; University of Chester; Imperial College London (Elsevier, 2021-11-11)
    Due to its complexity and its ubiquitous nature the ageing process remains an enduring biological puzzle. Many molecular mechanisms and biochemical process have become synonymous with ageing. However, recent findings have pinpointed epigenetics as having a key role in ageing and healthspan. In particular age related changes to DNA methylation offer the possibility of monitoring the trajectory of biological ageing and could even be used to predict the onset of diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer's disease and cardiovascular disease. At the molecular level emerging evidence strongly suggests the regulatory processes which govern DNA methylation are subject to intracellular stochasticity. It is challenging to fully understand the impact of stochasticity on DNA methylation levels at the molecular level experimentally. An ideal solution is to use mathematical models to capture the essence of the stochasticity and its outcomes. In this paper we present a novel stochastic model which accounts for specific methylation levels within a gene promoter. Uncertainty of the eventual site-specific methylation levels for different values of methylation age, depending on the initial methylation levels were analysed. Our model predicts the observed bistable levels in CpG islands. In addition, simulations with various levels of noise indicate that uncertainty predominantly spreads through the hypermethylated region of stability, especially for large values of input noise. A key outcome of the model is that CpG islands with high to intermediate methylation levels tend to be more susceptible to dramatic DNA methylation changes due to increasing methylation age.
  • DNA Methylation in Genes Associated with the Evolution of Ageing and Disease: A Critical Review

    Mc Auley, Mark T.; University of Chester (Elsevier, 2021-10-15)
    Ageing is characterised by a physical decline in biological functioning which results in a progressive risk of mortality with time. As a biological phenomenon, it is underpinned by the dysregulation of a myriad of complex processes. Recently, however, ever-increasing evidence has associated epigenetic mechanisms, such as DNA methylation (DNAm) with age-onset pathologies, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, and Alzheimer’s disease. These diseases compromise healthspan. Consequently, there is a medical imperative to understand the link between epigenetic ageing, and healthspan. Evolutionary theory provides a unique way to gain new insights into epigenetic ageing and health. This review will: (1) provide a brief overview of the main evolutionary theories of ageing; (2) discuss recent genetic evidence which has revealed alleles that have pleiotropic effects on fitness at different ages in humans; (3) consider the effects of DNAm on pleiotropic alleles, which are associated with age related disease; (4) discuss how age related DNAm changes resonate with the mutation accumulation, disposable soma and programmed theories of ageing; (5) discuss how DNAm changes associated with caloric restriction intersect with the evolution of ageing; and (6) conclude by discussing how evolutionary theory can be used to inform investigations which quantify age-related DNAm changes which are linked to age onset pathology.
  • Modelling Cholesterol Metabolism and Atherosclerosis

    Mc Auley, Mark T.; University of Chester (Wiley, 2021-12-20)
    Atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality among Western populations. Many risk factors have been identified for ASCVD; however, elevated low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) remains the gold standard. Cholesterol metabolism at the cellular and whole-body level is maintained by an array of interacting components. These regulatory mechanisms have complex behavior. Likewise, the mechanisms which underpin atherogenesis are nontrivial and multifaceted. To help overcome the challenge of investigating these processes mathematical modeling, which is a core constituent of the systems biology paradigm has played a pivotal role in deciphering their dynamics. In so doing models have revealed new insights about the key drivers of ASCVD. The aim of this review is fourfold; to provide an overview of cholesterol metabolism and atherosclerosis, to briefly introduce mathematical approaches used in this field, to critically discuss models of cholesterol metabolism and atherosclerosis, and to highlight areas where mathematical modeling could help to investigate in the future.
  • The interdependency and co-regulation of the vitamin D and cholesterol metabolism.

    Warren, Tara; McAliister, Roisin; Morgan, Amy; Singh Rai, Taranjit; McGilligan, Victoria; Ennis, Matthew; Page, Christopher; Kelly, Catriona; Peace, Aaron; Corfe, Bernard M.; et al. (MDPI, 2021-08-06)
    Vitamin D and cholesterol metabolism overlap significantly in the pathways that contribute to their biosynthesis. However, our understanding of their independent and co-regulation is limited. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death globally and atherosclerosis, the pathology associated with elevated cholesterol, is the leading cause of cardiovascular disease. It is therefore important to understand vitamin D metabolism as a contributory factor. From the literature, we compile evidence of how these systems interact, relating the understanding of the molecular mechanisms involved to the results from observational studies. We also present the first systems biology pathway map of the joint cholesterol and vitamin D metabolisms made available using the Systems Biology Graphical Notation (SBGN) Markup Language (SBGNML). It is shown that the relationship between vitamin D supplementation, total cholesterol, and LDL-C status, and between latitude, vitamin D, and cholesterol status are consistent with our knowledge of molecular mechanisms. We also highlight the results that cannot be explained with our current knowledge of molecular mechanisms: (i) vitamin D supplementation mitigates the side-effects of statin therapy; (ii) statin therapy does not impact upon vitamin D status; and critically (iii) vitamin D supplementation does not improve cardiovascular outcomes, despite improving cardiovascular risk factors. For (iii), we present a hypothesis, based on observations in the literature, that describes how vitamin D regulates the balance between cellular and plasma cholesterol. Answering these questions will create significant opportunities for advancement in our understanding of cardiovascular health
  • Accelerating sustainability transitions: the case of the hydrogen agenda in the North West region of England

    Edwards, Reace L.; Howe, Joseph; Font-Palma, Carolina (Informa UK Limited, 2022-06-29)
  • Electrical resistance tomography-based multi-modality sensor and drift flux model for measurement of oil–gas–water flow

    Rashed, Sara; Faraj, Yousef; Wang, Mi; Wilkinson, Stephen (IOP Publishing, 2022-06-14)
    Abstract: This paper proposes a novel method to measure each constituent of an oil–gas–water mixture in a water continuous flow, typically encountered in many processes. It deploys a dual-plane electrical resistance tomography sensor for measuring dispersed phase volume fraction and velocity; a gradiomanometer flow density meter and a drift flux model to estimate slip velocities; with absolute pressure and temperature measurements. These data are fused to estimate constituent volume flow rates. Other commonly used operational parameters can be further derived: water cut or water liquid ratio (WLR) and gas volume fraction (GVF). Trials are described for flow rates of water 5–10 m3 h−1; oil 2–10 m3 h−1 and gas 1–15 m3 h−1. The comparative results are included with published data from the Schlumberger Gould Research flow facility. The paper proposes the use of the described configuration for measurement of volume flow rates in oil–gas–water flows with an absolute error of ±10% within GVF 9%–85% and WLR > 45%.
  • A numerical exercise on waste incineration

    Jones, John C. (IOP Publishing, 2022-06-07)
    Abstract: A numerical example for tutorial and possibly design exercise use is described which is concerned with the performance of household waste as a fuel in power generation.
  • Novel Pyrolusite-Templated Biochar as an Outstanding Catalyst for Persulfate Activation: Structural Design, Synergistic Effect, and Mechanism

    Feng, Wenwei; Faraj, Yousef; Yan, Yuan; An, Yaoxiao; Xie, Ruzhen; Lai, Bo; Sichuan University; University of Chester (American Chemical Society (ACS), 2022-01-18)
  • The status of hydrogen technologies in the UK: A multi-disciplinary review

    Edwards, Reace L.; Font-Palma, Carolina; Howe, Joe; University of Chester
    Hydrogen has the potential to offer deep decarbonisation across a range of global heavy-emitting sectors. To have an impact on the global energy system, hydrogen technologies must be deployed with greater urgency. This review article facilitates the much needed, multi-disciplinary discussion around hydrogen. In doing so, the paper outlines recent advancements, prevailing challenges and areas of future research concerning hydrogen technologies, policy, regulation and social considerations in a UK setting. Findings suggest that hydrogen will play a significant role in decarbonising several UK sectors whilst simultaneously addressing challenges faced by alternative low-carbon technologies. Optimal production, delivery and storage systems must be developed to accommodate perceived future demand. Whilst this will be largely dictated by scale, efficiency, cost and technological maturity, significant improvements in existing policies and regulation will also be critical. The future role of hydrogen in the UK’s decarbonisation strategy is not clearly defined. In comparison to alternative low- carbon technologies, policy and regulatory support for hydrogen has been minimal. Whilst there is growing evidence concerning the public perception of hydrogen in UK homes, additional research is required given its many potential applications. The findings detailed in this article support the urgency for further multi- disciplinary collaborative research.
  • Columnar self-assembly, electrochemical and luminescence properties of basket-shaped liquid crystalline derivatives of Schiff-base-moulded p-tert-butyl-calix[4]arene

    Sharma, Vinay S.; orcid: 0000-0003-4970-0676; Sharma, Anuj S.; Worthington, Sheena J. B.; Shah, Priyanka A.; orcid: 0000-0002-1386-6984; Shrivastav, Pranav S.; orcid: 0000-0002-1284-1558 (Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC), 2020)
    A new family of blue-light emitting supramolecular basket-shaped liquid crystalline compounds based on p-tert-butyl-calix[4]arene core to form self-assembly and columnar hexagonal phase.
  • Electrochemically Detecting DNA Methylation in the EN1 gene Promoter: Implications for understanding Ageing and Disease

    Morgan, Amy; Acutt, Katie; Mc Auley, Mark; University of Chester
    There is a growing need for biomarkers which predict age-onset pathology. Although this is challenging, the methylome offers significant potential. Cancer is associated with the hypermethylation of many gene promoters, among which are developmental genes. Evolutionary theory suggests developmental genes arbitrate early-late life trade-offs, causing epimutations that increase disease vulnerability. Such genes could predict age related disease. The aim of this work was to optimise an electrochemical procedure for the future investigation of a broad range of ageing related pathologies. An electrochemical approach, which adopted three analytical techniques, was used to investigate DNA methylation in the EN1 gene promoter. Using synthetic single stranded DNA, one technique was able to detect DNA at concentrations as low as 10nM, with methylation status distinguishable at concentrations >25nM. A negative correlation could be observed between % methylation of heterogeneous solution and the key electrochemical parameter, Rct (r = -0.982, p < 0.01). The technique was applied to the breast cancer cell line MCF-7, where a similar correlation was observed (r = -0.965, p < 0.01). These results suggest electrochemistry can effectively measure DNA methylation at low concentrations of DNA. This has implications for the future detection of age-related disease.
  • Online conductivity calibration methods for EIT gas/oil in water flow measurement

    Jia, Jiabin; Wang, Mi; Faraj, Yousef; Wang, Qiang; University of Chester; University of Leeds; University of Edinburgh (Elsevier, 2015-07-02)
    Electrical Impedance Tomography (EIT) is a fast imaging technique displaying the electrical conductivity contrast of multiphase flow. It is increasingly utilised for industrial process measurement and control. In principle, EIT has to obtain the prior information of homogenous continuous phase in terms of conductivity as a reference benchmark. This reference significantly influences the quality of subsequent multiphase flow measurement. During dynamic industrial process, the conductivity of continuous phase varies due to the effects from the changes of ambient and fluid temperature, ionic concentration, and internal energy conversion in fluid. It is not practical to stop industrial process frequently and measure the conductivity of continuous phase for taking the EIT reference. If without monitoring conductivity of continuous phase, EIT cannot present accurate and useful measurement results. To online calibrate the electrical conductivity of continuous phase and eliminate drift error of EIT measurement, two methods are discussed in this paper. Based on the linear approximation between fluid temperature and conductivity, the first method monitors fluid temperature and indirectly calibrates conductivity. In the second method, a novel conductivity cell is designed. It consists of a gravitational separation chamber with refreshing bypass and grounded shielding plate. The conductivity of continuous phase is directly sensed by the conductivity cell and fed to EIT system for online calibration. Both static and dynamic experiments were conducted to demonstrate the function and accuracy the conductivity cell.
  • Measurement of vertical oil-in-water two-phase flow using dual-modality ERT–EMF system

    Faraj, Yousef; Wang, Mi; Jia, Jiabin; Wang, Qiang; Xie, Cheng-gang; Oddie, Gary; Primrose, Ken; Qiu, Changhua; University of Leeds; Sate Key Lab. of O&G Reservoir Geology and Exploitation, Southwest Petroleum University, China; Schlumberger Gould Research, Cambridge; Industrial Tomography System plc, Manchester (Elsevier, 2015-08-21)
    Oil-in-water two-phase flows are often encountered in the upstream petroleum industry. The measurement of phase flow rates is of particular importance for managing oil production and water disposal and/or water reinjection. The complexity of oil-in-water flow structures creates a challenge to flow measurement. This paper proposes a new method of two-phase flow metering, which is based on the use of dual-modality system and multidimensional data fusion. The Electrical Resistance Tomography system (ERT) is used in combination with a commercial off-the-shelf Electromagnetic Flow meter (EMF) to measure the volumetric flow rate of each constituent phase. The water flow rate is determined from the EMF with an input of the mean oil-fraction measured by the ERT. The dispersed oil-phase flow rate is determined from the mean oil fraction and the mean oil velocity measured by the ERT cross-correlation velocity profiling. Experiments were carried out on a vertical upward oil-in-water pipe flow, 50 mm inner-diameter test section, at different total liquid flow rates covering the range of 8–16 m3/hr. The oil and water flow rate measurements obtained from the ERT and the EMF are compared to their respective references. The accuracy of these measurements is discussed and the capability of the measurement system is assessed.
  • A new visualisation and measurement technology for water continuous multiphase flows

    Wang, Mi; Jia, Jiabin; Faraj, Yousef; Wang, Qiang; Xie, Cheng-gang; Oddie, Gary; Primrose, Ken; Qiu, Changhua; University of Chester; University of Leeds; University of Edinburgh; Schlumberger Gould Research, Cambridge; Industrial Tomography Systems plc, Manchester (Elsevier, 2015-07-06)
    This paper reports the performance of a research prototype of a new multiphase flow instrument to noninvasively measure the phase flow rates, with the capability to rapidly image the flow distributions of two- and three-phase (gas and/or oil in water) flows. The research prototype is based on the novel concepts of combining vector Electrical Impedance Tomography (EIT) sensor (for measuring dispersedphase velocity and fraction) with an electromagnetic flow metre (EMF, for measuring continuous-phase velocity with the EIT input) and a gradiomanometer flow-mixture density metre (FDM), in addition to on-line water conductivity, temperature and absolute pressure measurements. EIT–EMF–FDM data fusion embedded in the research prototype, including online calibration/compensation of conductivity change due to the change of fluids' temperature or ionic concentration, enables the determination of mean concentration, mean velocity and hence the mean flow rate of each individual phase based on the measurement of dispersed-phase distributions and velocity profiles. Results from first flow-loop experiments conducted at Schlumberger Gould Research (SGR) will be described. The performance of the research prototype in flow-rate measurements are evaluated by comparison with the flow-loop references. The results indicate that optimum performance of the research prototype for three-phase flows is confined within the measuring envelope 45–100% Water-in-Liquid Ratio (WLR) and 0–45% Gas Volume Fraction (GVF). Within the scope of this joint research project funded by the UK Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), only vertical flows with a conductive continuous liquid phase will be addressed.
  • Imaging of gas–liquid annular flows for underbalanced drilling using electrical resistance tomography

    Na, Wei; Jia, Jiabin; Yu, Xin; Faraj, Yousef; Wang, Qiang; Meng, Ying-feng; Wang, Mi; Sun, Wantong; University of Chester; University of Leeds; University of Edinburgh; Southwest Petroleum University (China) (Elsevier, 2015-07-21)
    The underbalanced drilling technique, which is also known as managed-pressure drilling, is playing an important role in oil and gas sector, as it reduces common conventional drilling problems such as minimal drilling rates and formation damage, differential sticking and lost circulation. Flow regime monitoring is one of the key topics in annular multiphase flow research, particularly for underbalanced drilling technique. Prediction of the prevailing flow regime in an annulus is of particular importance in the design and installation of underbalanced drilling facilities. Especially, for establishing a suitable pressure drop model based on the characteristics of the active flow regime. The methods of flow regime prediction (or visualisation) in an annulus that are currently in use are very limited, this is evidently due to poor accuracy or they are simply not applicable to underbalanced drilling operation in practice. Therefore, this paper presents a monitoring method, in which Electrical Resistance Tomography (ERT) is used to rapidly image the prevailing flow regime in an annulus with a metallic inner pipe. Experiments were carried out using an air–waterflow loop with a test section 50 mm diameter flow pipe. The two-phase air–waterflow regimes are visualised in the upward vertical annulus with a radius ratio (r/R) 0.4.This paper highlights the visualisation results of only three flow regimes, namely bubble flow, transitional bubble-slug flow and slug flow. The flow regimes are visualised through axial images stacked from50 mm diameter-pixels of 2D tomograms reconstructed with the Conjugate Gradient Method (SCG). Gas volume fraction profiles within the annular flow channel are also illustrated. The profiles are extracted using the Modified Sensitivity coefficient Back-Projection (MSBP) method with a sensitivity matrix generated from a realistic phantom in the finite element method software. The results are compared with visual observations (e.g. photographs) of the active flow regime at the time of ERT measurements.
  • Evaluation of EIT Systems and Algorithms for Handling Full Void Fraction Range in Two-phase Flow Measurement

    Jia, Jiabin; Wang, Mi; Faraj, Yousef; University of Chester; University of Leeds; University of Edinburgh (IOP Publishing, 2014-12-15)
    In the aqueous-based two-phase flow, if the void fraction of dispersed phase exceeds 0.25, the conventional Electrical Impedance Tomography (EIT) produces a considerable error due to the linear approximation of Sensitivity Back-projection method, which limits the EIT’s wider application in process industry. In this paper, an EIT sensing system which is able to handle full void fraction range in two-phase flow is reported. This EIT system employs a voltage source, conducts true mutual impedance measurement and reconstructs online image with the Modified Sensitivity Back-Projection (MSBP) algorithm. The capability of Maxwell relationship to convey full void fraction is investigated. The limitation of linear sensitivity back-projection method is analysed. The modified sensitivity back-projection algorithm is used to derive relative conductivity change in the evaluation. Series of static and dynamic experiments demonstrate the mean void fraction obtained using this EIT system has a good agreement with reference void fractions over the range from 0 to 1, which would significantly extend the applications of EIT in process measurement.
  • Measurement of Interphase Forces based on Dual-modality ERT/DP Sensor in Horizontal Two-phase Flow Gas-water

    Fang, Lide; Wang, Peipei; Zeng, Qiaoqiao; Li, Mingming; Li, Xiaoting; Wang, Mi; Faraj, Yousef; Wang, Qiang; University of Chester; University of Leeds; Hebei University (China)
    In order to better understand the mechanisms of two-phase flow and the prevailing flow regimes in horizontal pipelines, the evaluation of interphase forces is paramount. This study develops a method to quantitatively estimate the interphase force in two-phase gas-water flow in horizontal pipeline. The electrical resistance tomography technology is used to measure the void fraction, while the differential pressure perpendicular to the horizontal pipe is measured in different flow patterns via a Differential Pressure sensor. The inner pipe diameter is 50 mm, the water flow range from 3.26 m3/h to 7.36 m3/h, the gas flowrate range from 1 to 60 l/min, which covered a range of flow patterns, the absolute pressure range from0.07 MPa to 0.12 MPa. The relationship between the differential pressure drop and interphase force is established, and the effects of these forces on the flow are analyzed. Experimental results indicate that the dual-modality measurement system was successfully provided a quantitative evaluation of inter-phase forces in two-phase horizontal gas-water flow.
  • Cholesterol Homeostasis: An In Silico Investigation into How Aging Disrupts Its Key Hepatic Regulatory Mechanisms

    Morgan, Amy; Mc Auley, Mark; University of Chester
    The dysregulation of intracellular cholesterol homeostasis is associated with several age-related diseases, most notably cardiovascular disease (CVD). Research in this area has benefitted from using computational modelling to study the inherent complexity associated with the regulation of this system. In addition to facilitating hypothesis exploration, the utility of modelling lies in its ability to represent an array of rate limiting enzymatic reactions, together with multiple feedback loops, which collectively define the dynamics of cholesterol homeostasis. However, to date no model has specifically investigated the effects aging has on this system. This work addresses this shortcoming by explicitly focusing on the impact of aging on hepatic intracellular cholesterol homeostasis. The model was used to investigate the experimental findings that reactive oxygen species induce the total activation of 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-coenzyme A (HMG-CoA) reductase (HMGCR). Moreover, the model explored the impact of an age-related decrease in hepatic acetyl-CoA acetyltransferase 2 (ACAT2). The model suggested that an increase in the activity of HMGCR does not have as significant an impact on cholesterol homeostasis as a decrease in hepatic ACAT2 activity. According to the model, a decrease in the activity of hepatic ACAT2 raises free cholesterol (FC) and decreases low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) levels. Increased acetyl CoA synthesis resulted in a reduction in the number of hepatic low-density lipoprotein receptors, and increased LDL-C, FC, and cholesterol esters. The rise in LDL-C was restricted by elevated hepatic FC accumulation. Taken together these findings have important implications for healthspan. This is because emerging clinical data suggest hepatic FC accumulation is relevant to the pathogenesis of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), which is associated with an increased risk of CVD. These pathophysiological changes could, in part, help to explain the phenomenon of increased mortality associated with low levels of LDL-C which have been observed in certain studies involving the oldest old (≥ 85 years).

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