Department of Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering

Chemical Engineering in Aqueous Systems

The group, led by Prof. Marjatta Louhi-Kultanen, is studying the unit operations of aqueous systems and the solid-liquid phases equilibria.
Water has an important role in many unit operations in applications of the chemical industry, hydrometallurgy, wood processing, food production, the metal industry and biorefining. For instance, different types of unit operations of water systems include precipitation, crystallization, freezing, eutectic freeze crystallization, drying, evaporation, absorption and adsorption, dissolution, heat transfer and post-processing of liquids and solids.
For a deeper understanding and modelling of production processes, it is also important to know the states of equilibrium between multiphase systems. The gas-liquid, liquid-liquid, and solid-liquid states of equilibrium in water systems need to be known with a sufficient degree of precision.
Sea water

Recent research activities:

  1. Separation and purification of valued compounds from biorefineries, metals from waste and side streams, nutrients and other recyclable materials by crystallization and precipitation.
  2. Identification of critical impurities and their separation from solutions.
  3. Crystallization of mesocrystals for pharmaceutical applications.
  4. Regeneration of chemicals: concentration of aqueous solutions containing green solvents by freezing.
  5. Pre-treatment of aqueous electrolyte solutions to remove fine particles by microfiltration and organic compounds by adsorption containing.
  6. Real-time monitoring of crystal growth and nucleation kinetics and separation efficiency of microfiltration.

Our activities in images:


    Heat transfer in melt crystallizer (CFD simulation)

    CMET_Aqueous systems_Crystallization

    Melt crystallization

    CHEM_Acqeous systems_setup for continuous process

    Setup for continuous process

    CHEM_Aqeous systems_Mesocrystals


    CHEM_Aqueous systems_student at lab
    CHEM_Aqueous systems_student at lab

    Our lab and facilities:

    • We have good facilities consisting of a laboratory scale stirred tank station which allows studies on continuous, semi-batch and batch process mode at ambient or lower pressures. The station is equipped with a calorimeter and accurate temperature control system. Various crystallization methods, such as cooling crystallization, evaporative crystallization, reactive crystallization and anti-solvent crystallization, can be investigated.
    • Melt crystallization devices for layer and suspension crystallization studies.
    • Solid-liquid equilibria research based on thermal analysis methods, solubility measurements and optical detection of saturation point of solutions.
    • Realtime monitoring of chord lengths of particulates in fluids.
    • Thermodynamic modeling of electrolyte and non-electrolyte solutions.
    • Vacuum and pressure test filters for filterability studies to determine principle filtration parameters.

    Our Lab:

      CMET_aqueous systems_boiling point

      Image of boiling-point experimental setup: (1) vacuum pump, (2) condenser, (3) pressure gauge, (4) thermometer, (5) magnetic stirrer, (6) heating mantle.

      CHEM_aqueous systems_Lab_Easymax system

      EasyMax 402 crystallization system: (1, 2) reactors, (3) Focused Beam Reflectance Measurement tool, (4,4*) stirrers, (5) vacuum system, (6) control panel, (7) pump head, (8) digital drive.

      CHEM_aqueous systems_Easymax workstation

      EasyMax workstation

      Research group members:

      Our research group members:

        CHEM_Aqueous Systems_research group members

        Our team (from left to right): Anna, Nahla, Marjatta, Mitra, Jianxin and Rajaboopathi.

        CHEM_Anna Zaykovskaya at the lab

        Anna at the lab.

        CHEM_Nahla Osmanbegovic at the lab

        Mitra at the lab.

        CHEM_Jianxin Zhang at the lab

        Jianxin at the lab.

        Related content:

        Could mesocrystals make medication more effective? - Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellowship was awarded to Dr. Rajaboopathi Mani

        More water soluble the drug is the faster and more effective it works. Many new drug molecules have low solubility and that could limit their effectiveness when taken by mouth.

        Rajaboopathi Mani

        New natural freezing method offers energy savings in water purification

        Freezing winter temperatures can be put to good use in improving the cost and energy efficiency of wastewater purification.

        Latest publications:

        Effects of Assisting Solvents on Purification Efficiency in the Layer Melt Crystallization of Glycerol

        Mitra Ila, Kim Miikki, Marjatta Louhi-Kultanen 2024 Crystal Growth and Design

        Influence of Viscosity on Variously Scaled Batch Cooling Crystallization from Aqueous Erythritol, Glucose, Xylitol, and Xylose Solutions

        Anna Zaykovskaya, Bernadeth Amano, Marjatta Louhi-Kultanen 2024 Crystal Growth and Design

        Fe3+ and Al3+ removal by phosphate and hydroxide precipitation from synthetic NMC Li-ion battery leach solution

        Alexander Chernyaev, Jianxin Zhang, Sipi Seisko, Marjatta Louhi-Kultanen, Mari Lundström 2023 Scientific Reports

        Gamma-valerolactone biorefinery: Catalyzed birch fractionation and valorization of pulping streams with solvent recovery

        Marianna Granatier, Huy Quang Lê, Yibo Ma, Marja Rissanen, Inge Schlapp-Hackl, Daryna Diment, Anna Zaykovskaya, Juha-Pekka Pokki, Mikhail Balakshin, Marjatta Louhi-Kultanen, Ville Alopaeus, Herbert Sixta 2023 Heliyon

        Purification of monoethylene glycol by melt crystallization

        M. Ila, M. Louhi-Kultanen 2023 Chemical Engineering Science

        Special Issue: 27th International Workshop on Industrial Crystallization (BIWIC 2022)

        Marjatta Louhi-Kultanen 2023 Chemical Engineering and Technology

        Nonclassical Crystallization and Core-Shell Structure Formation of Ibuprofen from Binary Solvent Solutions

        Rajaboopathi Mani, Leena Peltonen, Clare J. Strachan, Maarit Karppinen, Marjatta Louhi-Kultanen 2023 Crystal Growth and Design

        1-Butanol Separation from Aqueous Acetone-Butanol-Ethanol (ABE) Solutions by Freeze Concentration

        Nahla Osmanbegovic, Vijaya Chandgude, Sandip Bankar, Marjatta Louhi-Kultanen 2023 Crystal Growth and Design
        More information on our research in the Aalto research portal.
        Research portal
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