Get to know your Academics – Arthur Garforth
Speciality: Heterogeneous Catalysis
Can you please describe your research, for the layman, in ten sentences or less?
I work to improve or find novel uses for heterogeneous catalysts, zeolites, made up aluminium and silicon oxides. These powders are acidic, similar to concentrated acids such as sulfuric or nitric, but unlike those acids are powders and are handleable. Zeolites are used in the cracking crude oil fractions such as, gas oil into gasoline and also as ion exchange media to purify or soften water.
I use these catalysts for oil and gas projects , the recycling of plastic waste and the production of biofuels and bio–lubricants. I carry out collaborative research with academics in Bath, Cardiff, Durham and further afield in Canada, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Spain and the USA. Industrial projects include Argent Energy, AxionPolymers, B&M Longworth, BASF/ Engelhard, the Co-op, JM, Nirex, PlasticsEurope and Saudi Aramco.
What first inspired your interests in Chemical Engineering?
Two sources of inspiration.
One of my roles when working in Industry for SGS back in 1988 was, as part of a team of three, to certify a gas and condensate metering station on the Kuwait-Iraq border. In this role we had to check the integrity of orifice plates inserted into the gas and condensate lines to create a differential pressure – to allow flow measurement (check out experiment in Y1 labs). The downside of this job was that there 24 lines to check, there were lots of large nuts and bolts to undo and the plates themselves were the diameter of a horse! Not only that the plates were around 500 metres from the air conditioned control room and the temperature was typically around 35-50degC. Phew, just started sweating just thinking about it!!
My second was around 6 years later, when I met the late, great, Albert Rushton working on a commercial research project at UMIST in Chemistry. Albert was very friendly, great fun and a filtration expert lecturering in Chem Eng. He taught me basic batch reactor design and introduced me to filter media. He made such an impression on me that I jumped at the chance to work in CEAS in 1998 and ended up teaching reactor design. Who’d have thought it. I have never forgotten him and the new filtration experiment (check out Y2 labs) was my way of saying thanks to him and giving a permanent legacy to that 24 month project when we worked together as a team.
Where did you attend University?
University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST) graduating in Chemistry in 1980 and with a PhD in 1984.
What’s your favourite part about your job here at Manchester?
That’s a tough question. When I’m teaching I love it, when I’m working in the lab., I love that.
But I’d have to say, my most favourite part and the best thing about my job, is graduation. It is a privilege to see students I have had a hand in educating the next generation of Chemical Engineers.
Now for some different questions, let’s get to you know what you’re like outside of work! What do you do when you’re not working? Interests and hobbies?
I’ve stopped “ruining a good walk” these days and hung up my golf clubs (handicap 11). These days I love the peace and quiet of long walks around Edale and Langsett Reservoir and chilling to movies on Freeview
Pleased to say I still have my footie boots and “competed” on the 5-a-side pitch in the Morton Sports Day. At some stages the 2016 staff team had combined age of 250 on the pitch! We won 1 drew 3 and lost 1, mostly down to Gary Burns and Darren Huyton – it has to be said. Great fun though and the student support during the games – knocked us all out.
What’s your favourite sports team?
Oldham Athletic sadly back in, what used to be called Division 4. Showing my age as I started supporting them in 1970.
What about your favourite film?
You’d expect me to say The Godfather Parts 1 & 2. But I like all sorts – big sci-fi fan (Star Trek – old and reboot). I’m a big softie and I love films about life and the celebration of life so Cinema Paradisio and Mediterraneo are a couple of my favourites.
And finally Arthur, what’s your favourite genre of music?
Can I have two?
- Pop & Early Classical (Baroque)
- Bowie and Bach played by Yo Yo Ma.
Did you know, I am one year younger then Madonna.