rob bloom

Rob Bloom

Why did you choose to undertake a PhD at the University of Leeds?

I chose to undertake a PhD at the University of Leeds due to its great history and ongoing excellence in energy-related chemical engineering research. Having completed my undergraduate degree in Chemical and Energy Engineering also at Leeds and having gained a knowledge and appreciation of the excellent research in energy and low carbon sectors; I wanted to contribute to the ongoing research in these areas. My PhD programme at Leeds (part of the doctoral training centre for Low Carbon Technologies) allowed me to explore a whole range of research possibilities from transport policy to solar power before I chose to join Dr Valerie Dupont’s research group to develop novel hydrogen generation technologies.

Tell us about your research

My research mainly concerns the improvement of a widespread chemical process used to produce industrial hydrogen known as steam methane reforming. This process is conducted on a massive scale but is also energy and carbon intensive. I work on reducing the carbon emissions related to this process by increasing the thermal efficiency and by implementing carbon capture technologies. Day-to-day my research involves the use of both physical testing using of many of the schools excellent facilities such as the suite of electron microscopes, physical characterisation equipment and custom-built labs in the energy building as well as developing chemical reaction models and commercial process modelling software.

What is your favourite part of doing your research at Leeds?

My favourite part of my research in Leeds is the development and testing of new research methodologies including the construction of testing equipment. As part of my research, I have built, with the aid of the excellent technical and admin staff, my own bespoke testing equipment to evaluate different catalytic materials. However there are many fantastic aspects of researching here; the opportunity to collaborate with different institutes, research groups and students within the school; the excellent connections with other leading universities and commercial entities; the opportunities to attend international and prestigious conferences; and the emphasis on developing skills that can be used not only for research but for a future career in industry.

What activities do you take part in outside of your research studies?

Outside of my PhD I run a 6 a-side football match twice a week for those in the Energy Research Institute, as well as regularly playing squash in the facilities provided by the university. I’m also a huge cricket fan and regularly get down to Headingley Stadium to watch Yorkshire and England play (they have amazing student prices).  I’ll also take any excuse to get into town to any of the great restaurants and bars in Leeds city centre; there’s an amazing foodie culture here!

What are your ambitions for the future?

Ambitions for the future mainly involve finishing my thesis and getting that all important doctorate! Beyond that I’m not sure where my career will take me; what I do know is that my research at Leeds will have equipped me to undertake either a career in academia, the chemical engineering industry or any other maths or science based industries.

Do you have any advice to anyone considering coming to Leeds?

My greatest piece of advice to anyone coming to study here at Leeds is to get out and experience as much of the city and surrounding area as possible: the bars night clubs and restaurants of Leeds are unrivalled in the north (my opinion), the city has some great sporting teams to watch including Yorkshire County Cricket Club the Leeds Rhinos rugby league team and Leeds United football teams and there are some areas of outstanding natural beauty in the nearby Yorkshire Dales and the Peak District. Above this, the university and the students union offer plenty of social opportunities including a massive number of sports and general interest societies. So get out and experience it!