Master assignments

Development of an ultra-low dead volume gas/liquid separator


In a microfluidic system the throughput is typically of low volume. As a result, connections in the system must have a low dead volume to provide samples fast enough to the analysis equipment and to prevent the loss of valuable data due to averaging or mixing. One example where this can be a major problem is online analysis. Online analysis provides immediate information on the reaction mixture. In this way, reaction intermediates and unstable compounds can be detected and the behavior of the system monitored over time. When the reaction mixture consists of both gas and liquid phase components, both phases are usually not analyzed by the same method and the gas and liquid components have to be separated on-stream before entering their respective analysis equipment. Therefore, analysis of both the gas and the liquid phases of the reaction mixture in a microfluidic system requires a gas/liquid separator with an ultra-low dead volume.


The goal of this project is to design, fabricate, characterize and test a gas/liquid separator with an ultra-low dead volume. The device is meant to separate H2, CO, CO2, CH4 in the gas phase from an aqueous phase containing biomass compounds and derivatives, while being compatible with a pressure of 35 bar and temperatures of up to 300 °C. Furthermore, the module must be able to separate mixtures with a wide range of gas-to-liquid ratio’s. The PhD-thesis of J.Keybl (2011, MIT) can act as a starting point for this project.[1] The student has to select a suitable separation method, the geometry of the channels and the materials. After design and fabrication, the student will optimize and test the device with a model reaction.

This project is part of the Multiscale Catalytic Energy Conversion consortium (MCEC), where catalytic processes for renewable energy conversion are studied on multiple scales from a multidisciplinary perspective.[2]


The student must have a background in Chemical Engineering or in Advanced Technology with a good understanding of chemistry.


  1. J. Keybl, 2011, PhD thesis


Renée Ripken, PhD student, r.m.ripken
Dr. Ir. Séverine. Le Gac, s.legac
Prof. Dr. Han. Gardeniers, j.g.e.gardeniers