Faces of MACBETH: Irin Wilson Panjikkaran (Evonik)

  • 26/09/2023

The second portrait we would like to introduce you is from Irin Wilson Panjikkaran of Evonik. She told about herself and her research work on MACBETH. We hope, you enjoy getting to know her.

  • Tell us something about yourself.

I am Irin, born and raised in Kerala, India. I pursued my bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Calicut, Kerala. In 2018, I moved to Germany to pursue my master’s degree in Chemical and Energy Engineering from the University of Magdeburg. I am currently a doctoral researcher in the group of Prof. Robert Franke at Evonik Oxeno GmbH & Co. KG, and I am also affiliated with the University of Magdeburg, where I receive guidance from Prof. Andreas Seidel-Morgenstern. Apart from academics, I enjoy hiking and playing board games.

  • Do you have a scientific role model? Who is your favorite scientist?

Since childhood, I have been fascinated by the life and work of Marie Curie. Her dedication and passion for science have always inspired me to pursue a career in research. As the first woman to receive a Nobel Prize and the first person to receive two Nobel Prizes in different fields, she has left an indelible mark in the world of science.

As a young researcher, I strive to follow in Marie Curie’s footsteps and make a positive impact in the world through my work. I strongly believe that Marie Curie is not only just my role model, but also an inspiration to many women in the research field globally. Her work has opened doors for future generations of women in science, and her legacy serves as a reminder that with hard work and dedication, anything is achievable. Like Marie Curie, I believe that anything is possible with hard work and dedication, and I am determined to make a difference in the world through my research.

  • How did you come to join the MACBETH team?

During my master’s program, I applied for an internship position at Evonik operations GmbH. Fortunately, I was chosen to join the MACBETH team. Throughout my internship, I also had the opportunity to collaborate with project partners from different institutions across the European Union, which was a great experience. Following my internship, I was offered a thesis opportunity to expand on the work I had done during my internship and now I am continuing my research in the same field as a doctoral researcher at Evonik.

  • In which MACBETH case are you involved?

Currently, I am working on the Hyfo line, where my focus is on developing reactor models for a catalytic membrane reactor of extractor type used in hydroformylation reactions.

  • How does your typical day look like working on MACBETH?

Like mentioned earlier, my work at Evonik involves reactor modeling and simulations using software such as Matlab and Aspen Custom Modeler. I am currently working with two different reactor models. The first model is specific to the hyfo case, while the second model is a general reactor model that can be used as a tool for selecting a membrane for a reactor with hydroformylation reaction.

My typical day at work starts with reading about the different mechanisms that occur in a catalytic membrane reactor of extractor type, which can implement and help improving the reactor models. I then proceed to do simulations with the developed models and analyze the reactor behavior based on the obtained results. If there are any variations in the results, I try to understand the possible reasons and debug the model to rectify it.

  • What was your biggest challenge so far?

The most significant challenge of my doctoral research is to develop a functional reactor model which is specific to the hyfo case. This is one of the two reactor models that I am currently working on. Since this is a new reactor concept with a complex geometry, developing of the model should be done from the scratch. To create an accurate model, it is essential to consider the important phenomena that occur in the reactor and have a thorough understanding of the system.

  • What is your biggest success/achievement so far?

One of my biggest accomplishments was developing a general reactor model that can be utilized as a tool for selecting a membrane for a reactor with hydroformylation reaction which is the second reactor model that I am working on. I was able to predict the membrane requirements for this specific reactor design and project partners were also excited about the results. I effectively showcased these findings at multiple conferences.

  • How do you imagine your future work life?

In the future, I envision myself conducting numerous simulations with the reactor models that I am currently developing. I am excited about the prospect of seeing these models being utilized at Chemiepark in Marl, particularly in optimizing the operating conditions of the reactor that will be installed at the plant soon.


Irin’ LinkedIn account: Irin Wilson Panjikkaran | LinkedIn