• School of Engineering and Applied Science, Aston University

      B4 7ET Birmingham

      United Kingdom

    • The Trianlge, Aston University, MB184-b

      B4 7ET Birmingham

      United Kingdom

    Accepting PhD Students

    PhD projects

    NEW PhD studentship opportunity on Advanced sustainable bioplastics from renewable resources (see further details on PhD supervision). Application deadline: 31st January 2023!

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    Personal profile

    Biography

    In September 2017 I joined the Chemical Engineering & Applied Chemistry department (CEAC) at Aston University as a Lecturer, and in August 2022 I became a Senior Lecturer, which is my current role. My research focuses on biomass conversion into high-value products and biorefineries, and it is mainly experimental.

    In 2014, I completed my PhD in Chemical and Process Engineering (Research Excellence) at the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom. During my PhD, I worked under the supervision of Professor Paul T. Williams, on the synthesis and characterization of metal-based catalysts, to be used during catalytic steam reforming processing of refuse-derived fuel to yield a hydrogen-rich gas or syngas.

    During my Ph.D., I was awarded a World University Network Scholarship to visit the University of Sydney in Australia, working in catalysts preparation. I also was awarded a grant from the KHT Royal Institute of Technology/Biofuels Research Infrastructure for Sharing Knowledge (BRISK), to carry out experiments at the ECN in Petten, Netherlands as part of the BRISK initiative. I also received funding twice from the Leeds for Life Foundation, to present results from my research at International Conferences in Portugal and Denmark. I have more than 10 Journal publications related to biomass conversion, hydrogen production from solid wastes, and I participated in a project supported by the White Rose Collaboration Fund. I am also a registered Ambassador of the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Network (STEMNET) in the UK. 

    Upon completion of my B Eng. in Chemical Engineering at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), in 2007, I worked as a chemical engineer in an environmental consultancy. My main activities were carried out on the field at oil refineries (PEMEX, Mexican petroleum). Afterward, I worked on the application and development of chemical products for the paper industry, using specialised chemicals to avoid the formation of microorganisms during the paper-making process. 

    I am currently contributing to the HyDex project which is designed to support and foster the creation of a new hydrogen industrial economy in the Midlands. I recently completed a RAEng project about biomass thermal conversion in collaboration with the Indian Institute of Ropar and A2P. The project addressed the paddy straw burning problem by converting the straw into valuable products like Energy and Soil Conditioners.

    I am part of the editorial board of the Carbon Capture Science & Technology Journal (since 2022). I am keen on developing and supervising research around biomass conversion, product upgrading, catalyst development, carbon capture, hydrogen production and utilisation, biomass resources, etc.

    PhD Supervision

    Miss Sarah Asplin: Thermal conversion of inedible vegetable oil into aromatics (graduated 2022)

    Miss Mpho Rapoo: Catalytic pyrolysis of biomass (started July 2021)

    *NEW: EAS/EBRI PhD Studentship Opportunity: Advanced sustainable bioplastics from renewable resources. Project summary: 99% of current plastics are made from fossil fuels and 91% of all plastics made to date have ended up in landfill, our environment, or incineration plants. It’s not all bad news, however, as plastics save us over 580 million GJ (gigajoules) of energy per year (compared to using non-plastic alternatives) and will therefore play a pivotal role in our quest to net zero. Our research question is: Can we use Artificial Intelligence to identify viable, efficient, and sustainable routes from biomass waste to high-value chemicals for bioplastic production?

    Current methods of producing bio-friendly plastics are limited to known, relatively expensive pathways. The use of machine learning will allow the screening of potential biomass-to-plastic routes to enable this highly ambitious project to succeed. Ultimately, this project will address the huge issue of waste plastics by generating a new family of degradable plastics using renewable feedstocks via the most carbon-neutral pathways.

    Contact me for informal queries. Application deadline: 31st January 2023

    Qualifications

    2010-2014 PhD in Chemical and Process Engineering (Research Excellence), University of Leeds, Leeds, UK.

    2002-2007 BEng in Chemical Engineering (8.5/10), National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), Mexico City, Mexico.

    Higher Education:

    Fellow of the Higher Education, UK.

    Teaching Activity

    Module Owner:

    CE3019 ADVANCED REACTION ENGINEERING

    CE3104 PROCESS AND POLLUTION CONTROL

    Module Contributor:

    CE4026 Industrial catalysis

    CE1002 Design & Build

    CE3003 Final Year Design Project

    CE4011 MEng Research Project

    Research Interests

    Homogeneous & Heterogeneous Catalysts: synthesis, development, and characterisation for gas-solid, liquid-liquid, and solid-liquid reactions.

    Biomass thermal conversion: pyrolysis, gasification, pyrolysis/gasification.

    Design reactors for gasification: Circulating fluidised bed, fluidised bed, fixed-bed.

    Bioenergy carriers, hydrogen production, hydrogen applications, BECCS (Bioenergy integrated to Carbon Capture).

    Biochar formation, properties, and novel applications.

    Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF).

    Upgrading of biomass conversion products to obtain high-value fuels and chemicals.

    KEYWORDS: Biomass pyrolysis and gasification, Tar formation, sampling, analysis and reduction in thermal processes; Biorefineries; lignocellulosic materials; Acid catalysts; Hydrolysis; Anhydrosugars; Biofuels; Bioethanol; Hydrogen

    Administrative Roles

    REVIEWER:

    Fuel & Energy Journal; EPSRC; BBSCR proposals

    CEAC Memberships:

    Chair of CREST - CEAC Retention and Engagement Team

    Chair of WAC - CEAC Walls and Corridors

    EAS Memberships:

    EAS Well-being team

    ECR Forum

    Other activities:

    Open-Days

    Contact Details

    Phone number: +44 (0)121 204 4399
    Email:  p.blanco-sanchez@aston.ac.uk 
    Room Number: MB184-B 

    Education/Academic qualification

    PhD, University of Leeds

    18 Oct 201022 Dec 2014

    Award Date: 22 Dec 2014

    BSc, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

    1 Sep 200223 Feb 2007

    Award Date: 23 Feb 2007

    Keywords

    • Q Science (General)
    • Chemical engineering
    • Bioenergy
    • Gasification
    • Biomass
    • Hydrogen
    • Tar reduction
    • Bio-oil upgrading
    • Biochar
    • Heterogeneous catalysis

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