UCL Department of Chemical Engineering

Dr Max Besenhard

Dr Max Besenhard

Lecturer in Digital Manufacturing of Advanced Materials

Dept of Chemical Engineering

Faculty of Engineering Science

Joined UCL
1st Sep 2021

Research summary

Maximilian is a Lecturer for Digital Manufacturing of Advanced Materials in the Department of Chemical Engineering at UCL and programme lead of the newly established Digital Manufacturing MSc. He has an interdisciplinary experimental and computational research background with a strong focus on material science and pharmaceutical process development. He spent several years in industry at SIEMENS and the RCPE GmbH’s simulation working on CFD, population balance modelling, statistical process control and machine learning, and flow sheet modelling for computational scale-up and process development. His industrial and academic work has always combined experimental and computational work covering multiple areas including process scale-up, particle feeding, bioprocesses, flow chemistry, nanomaterials, as well as crystallisation and chromatography. His expertise in process analytical and sensor technology, material science and reactor design, provides the background required for sensible validation and fit for purpose testing of computational approaches.
The new area of digital manufacturing imposes research challenges at several frontiers which are the focus of his current research. Examples are i) Hybrid models for Artificially Intelligent systems combining mechanistic models where possible with machine learning strategies where not, ii) autonomous material discovery and process optimisation, iii) system engineering approaches to manufacture precisely engineered functional materials at small and large scales, iv) novel reactor designs facilitating novel synthetic procedures which yield novel (nano) materials.


Maximilian is a physicist by training and holds a BSc and MSc degree in technical physics from Graz University of Technology. He switched to chemical and pharma engineering for his PhD which focussed on continuous pharma production at the Institute of Process and Particle Engineering and the Research Center Pharmaceutical Engineering (RCPE) in Graz. After several years in industry working for Siemens and the RCPE, he returned to academia joining UCL in 2016 as a postdoctoral research associate (PDRA). During his 5 years as a PDRA in the groups of Prof. Gavriilidis and Prof. Sorensen, he worked on the continuous syntheses of noble metal and magnetic nanoparticles for biomedical applications, multiphase and high temperature flow reactors to synthesise advanced functional materials, sensor technology and real time material characterisation, nature inspired ways for nanomaterial shape tuning, as well as hybrid computational approaches combining mechanistic models with machine learning strategies to develop digital twins for HPLC method development. In 2021 he joined the School of Chemical and Process Engineering at the University of Leeds as a lecturer (and still is visiting lecturer) before returning to UCL in April 2022 as a lecturer in in Digital Manufacturing of Advanced Materials and programme lead for the same named MSc programme.