- Professor of Sustainable Reaction Engineering, CU Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology
Alexei Lapkin studied chemistry at Novosibirsk State University. Within MChem degree he specialised in catalysis and membrane gas separation. After graduation he began his scientific career in Boreskov Institute of Catalysis where he worked for three years as a junior research scientist. He then did a PhD in chemical engineering at University of Bath and in 2000 was appointed a Lecturer in Chemical Engineering at Bath University. In 2009 he was appointed a Professor of Engineering at University of Warwick. He was elected to his current position at Cambridge in April 2013.
His research is on clean manufacturing of functional molecules that are used in polymers, medicines, fragrances, inorganic materials, etc. His group is working on developing manufacturing processes starting from renewable biological feedstocks, on design of safe and compact plants that could support a distributed manufacturing supply chain, on reducing the energy and material intensity of manufacturing within chemical and chemistry using industries, and on sensing and controllability of compact plants. The narrow definition of his research field is 'reaction engineering', which can be described as design of optimal environment for chemical reactions to occur and to follow the desired direction. In the area of bio-based molecules his particular interest was artemisinin - the precursor to antimalarial drugs against uncomplicated P. falciparum malaria. His group worked on methods of extraction and purification of artemisinin, on analytical methods for quantification of artemisinin and its impurities and on cleaner manufacturing of the final active pharmaceuticals. Continuous manufacturing within the context of pharmaceutical and specialty chemicals industry is another important area of work for his group.