Job Research Internship BioRenewables


Role Global challenges require global actions to achieve Sustainable Goals while supporting a circular economy. Biomass is a renewable versatile resource that can be used to produce heat, power, transport fuels and products, however, it should be sustainable. In an … Continue reading

Biomass Characterization by SEM-EDX

Climate change concerns and the post COVID world need urgent solutions to develop sustainable societies with better energy, products and services 1.

Biomass could help but its chemical properties must be known in faster ways2.

Our work delivered a faster and reliable method for elemental analyses of biomass with Scanning Electron Microscopy coupled to Energy Dispersive X-Ray Analysis.

1. United Nations (2015). Transforming Our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. [online] United Nations. (Accessed on 10 May 2023).

2. Biswas, B., Krishna, B. B., Kumar, M. K., Sukumaran, R. K. & Bhaskar, T. Chapter 7 – Biomass characterization. in Advanced Biofuel Technologies (eds. Tuli, D., Kasture, S. & Kuila, A.) 151–175 (Elsevier, 2022).

New Challenger for Sustainable Ethanol Production in Industrial Biorefineries


Nations urgently need to tackle climate change in harmony with a circular economy to accomplish Sustainable Development Goals. Using sustainable biomass for sustainable industrial ethanol production seems attractive. Recently, the outstanding features of the arid plants nopales, aka prickly pear cactus, became headlines. Nopales outcompete algae and other biomasses in many aspects. Nopales are resilient, and climate change sparked their advancing invasion across European countries and other places.

Poster prickly pear cactus ethanol LCA
Poster presented at 7th Green and Sustainable Chemistry Conference, Dresden, Germany.

A sustainable biorefinery for ethanol production from nopales could holistically support promising outlooks on energy transition, water positive activities and food security near cities. However, the environmental impact and energy efficiency of this novel biorefinery for renewable energy under realistic scenarios is unknown. Traditional chemical pretreatments are polluters that can improve through environmental assessment and bio/chemical process design.  

We conducted experiments and assessments of scenarios for cleaner ethanol production from nopales in a biorefinery.  Four scenarios considered two fertilisers, two pretreatments and two operational modes. We conducted life cycle assessment, energy balances and energy efficiency calculations. The most polluting scenario uses fossil fertilisers, acid hydrolysis and neutralization of nopal nutrients, and it resulted in approximately four times the global warming potential of the best scenario.  Organic fertilisers and the use and reuse of ionic liquids with acetone for washing was the most ecofriendly scenario.

We propose a cleaner design showing the lowest impacts in all categories, including Global Warming, Acidification and Eutrophication Potentials and more. Besides, the design used the lowest amount of energy per unit of energy as ethanol fuel. It also has the best energy efficiency since it converted three-fold the amount of spent energy, in the worst scenario, into net energy as ethanol fuel.

Sustainable biorefineries and sustainable biomasses are opportunities in the circular economy while pursuing climate risk mitigation, carbon neutrality and green energy for sustainable development.

Job Biomass Analysis Research Internship


RoleCurrent climate change concerns and the post COVID world call for urgent solutions to develop sustainable societies. Nonfood biomass instead of petroleum is an option to produce cleaner biofuels, bioplastics and more.  To achieve some sustainable goals, biomass needs to … Continue reading

Self-funded PhD opportunity on Sustainable fuels and chemicals from sustainable biomass and bioprocessing

Project Description

The UN Sustainable Development Goals, COP26 and more forums worldwide urge for positive action on climate change. Innovative sustainable solutions can help to build a better climate to develop sustainable societies. Nonfood biomass instead of petroleum, coal or controversial food feedstocks can produce cheaper, safer, faster and environmentally friendlier products and services. For instance, advanced biofuels, bioplastics, biooil, sugars, biofertilizers, proteins and foods to cite a few.

Advantageously, this project would use a promising nonfood biomass feedstock adapted through millions of years for growing in extreme conditions close to megacities worldwide. Arid biomass requires far less common inputs like water, energy, machinery, pest control, downstream and upstream processing than microalgae and traditional crops. The challenge is to create sustainable processes for transforming arid biomass into sustainable products and services responsibly.

The PhD project aims at studying biotechnological and chemical engineering strategies to create novel sustainable processes transforming arid biomass into wealth while helping people and the environment in a more responsible way. Products and services could be used in energy, feed and food production, agriculture and farming.

An understanding of bioprocessing, bio/chemical process engineering, biomass valorisation are foundations for creating viable strategies. Strong laboratory skills in the aforementioned subjects are essential. Basic design and expression of recombinant enzymes and/or molecular cloning skills are desirable, not essential, but to be learned and applied along with the project.

Applicants must have achieved or be expected to achieve a 1st class or 2:1 honours degree or equivalent in a related discipline in Chemical/Biochemical/Environmental Engineering, Biotechnology or equivalent or have relevant industrial experience…

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