Dr Tom Rufford

Senior Lecturer

School of Chemical Engineering
Faculty of Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology
t.rufford@uq.edu.au
+61 7 336 54165

Overview

Biography:

Dr Tom Rufford is a Lecturer in the School of Chemical Engineering and a holds an ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award. Tom completed his BE and PhD degrees in Chemical Engineering at the University of Queensland in 2000 and 2009, respectively. Tom’s PhD thesis investigated the use of porous carbon materials derived from waste coffee grounds for energy storage via hydrogen or supercapacitors on board electric vehicles. From 2001 to 2005 he worked as a process engineer and technologist on the crude distillation columns, naptha reformers and hydrogen purification plant at Shell’s Geelong Oil Refinery. From 2010 to late 2012, Tom was a research fellow at the University of Western Australia working on natural gas processing and LNG production research projects with the UWA’s Chevron Chair in Gas Process Engineering, Prof. Eric May.

Dr Rufford has published more than 25 scientific papers in international journals and an edited book on carbon materials. He has been a visiting researcher at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology in Tsukuba, Japan, and an Endeavour Research Fellow visiting the Institute of Metals Research of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Shenyang, China. Dr Rufford is a chartered member of the IChemE.

Research:

Tom Rufford conducts gas processing research for cleaner energy production and utilization. His research interests include gas process engineering, porous carbons, pressure swing adsorption, and solid-fluid interactions in coal seam gas reservoirs. Current and recent projects include studies on Helium recovery and nitrogen rejection from natural gas, low permeability coals, and the capture of methane emissions from liquefied natural gas (LNG) production plants.

Teaching and Learning:

Tom is the program director at UQ for the MSc in Petroleum Engineering program delivered in partnership with Heriot Watt University, Scotland. His teaching contributions include sections in CHEE3004 Unit Operations of the BE chemical engineering program and ENGG7502 Reservoir Engineering of the MSc in Petroleum Engineering program.

Projects:

  1. Recovering helium from Australia's natural gas: A case study for advanced adsorption processes to concentrate dilute gases.
  2. Removing contaminants such as nitrogen and carbon dioxide from sub-quality natural gas.
  3. Understanding, characterising and managing solids production in coal seam gas producing wells.
  4. Identification, characterisation and stimulation of low permeability coals.
  5. Carbon foams for gas separation.

Qualifications

  • Doctor of Philosophy, The University of Queensland
  • Bachelor of Engineering with Honours Class 1, The University of Queensland

Publications

View all Publications

Supervision

  • Doctor Philosophy

  • (2017) Doctor Philosophy

  • Doctor Philosophy

View all Supervision

Available Projects

  • To get a grip on their surfing boards/devices surfers around the world use and discard something like 6 million bars of surfboard wax each year. Almost all of these surfboard wax products consist of petrochemicals derived from crude oils. However, a range of new surfboard wax products including soy-based and bees wax are now available, and marketed as "green" alternatives to petrochemical waxes. But, there is very little scientific information available to verify the "green" marketing claims.

    This project aims to (1) review the literature on environmental impacts (both marine impacts of wax particles, and broader impacts of production processes), (2) identify a set of criteria to assess both the performance and relative impacts of "green" and conventional surf waxes, and (3) design and conduct experiments to understand the breakage and spalling mechanisms of surfwax in use and entry of wax particles into the marine environment.

    Note, although this project focusses on surf wax, this wax product represents just a very small fraction of the parrafin wax that enters the marine environment each year. Most parrafin pollution in our oceans comes from activities related to shipping petroleum products. The outcomes from the surfwax study may help to understand the life cycle of other waxes in the marine environment.

    Applicants to this project will need to apply for a UQ Graduate School scholarship (https://graduate-school.uq.edu.au/Scholarships) or similar funding.

    No prior experience in surfing required. However, it's essential to the PhD applicant is willing to learn how surfers use wax, become aware of trends in surf culture and surf industry, and willing to appreciate the different ways surfers relate to the ocean environment.

View all Available Projects

Publications

Featured Publications

Book

Book Chapter

  • Wang, Li, Ge, Lei, Rufford, Thomas and Zhu, Zhonghua (2015). Functionalization of carbon nanotubes for catalytic applications. In Ying (Ian) Chen (Ed.), Nanotubes and nanosheets: functionalization and applications of boron nitride and other nanomaterials (pp. 409-439) Boca Raton, FL, United States: CRC Press. doi:10.1201/b18073-20

  • Rufford, Thomas E., Fiset, Erika, Hulicova-Jurcakova, Denisa and Zhu, Zhonghua (2014). Biomass-derived carbon electrodes for electrochemical double-layer capacitors. In Thomas E. Rufford, Denisa Hulicova-Jurcakova and John Zhu (Ed.), Green Carbon Materials: Advances and Applications (pp. 93-113) Singapore: Pan Stanford Publishing. doi:10.1201/b15651-5

Journal Article

Conference Publication

Other Outputs

Grants (Administered at UQ)

PhD and MPhil Supervision

Current Supervision

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

Completed Supervision

Possible Research Projects

Note for students: The possible research projects listed on this page may not be comprehensive or up to date. Always feel free to contact the staff for more information, and also with your own research ideas.

  • To get a grip on their surfing boards/devices surfers around the world use and discard something like 6 million bars of surfboard wax each year. Almost all of these surfboard wax products consist of petrochemicals derived from crude oils. However, a range of new surfboard wax products including soy-based and bees wax are now available, and marketed as "green" alternatives to petrochemical waxes. But, there is very little scientific information available to verify the "green" marketing claims.

    This project aims to (1) review the literature on environmental impacts (both marine impacts of wax particles, and broader impacts of production processes), (2) identify a set of criteria to assess both the performance and relative impacts of "green" and conventional surf waxes, and (3) design and conduct experiments to understand the breakage and spalling mechanisms of surfwax in use and entry of wax particles into the marine environment.

    Note, although this project focusses on surf wax, this wax product represents just a very small fraction of the parrafin wax that enters the marine environment each year. Most parrafin pollution in our oceans comes from activities related to shipping petroleum products. The outcomes from the surfwax study may help to understand the life cycle of other waxes in the marine environment.

    Applicants to this project will need to apply for a UQ Graduate School scholarship (https://graduate-school.uq.edu.au/Scholarships) or similar funding.

    No prior experience in surfing required. However, it's essential to the PhD applicant is willing to learn how surfers use wax, become aware of trends in surf culture and surf industry, and willing to appreciate the different ways surfers relate to the ocean environment.