• Aston Triangle, Aston University, Energy and Bioproducts Research Institute (EBRI)

      B4 7ET Birmingham

      United Kingdom

    • School of Engineering and Applied Science, Aston University

      B4 7ET Birmingham

      United Kingdom

    Accepting PhD Students

    Personal profile

    Contact Details

    Phone: +44 121 204 3417
    Email: d.j.nowakowski@aston.ac.uk
    Office: EBRI - Room EB102 * CEAC - Room MB122


    I joined Aston University in 2007. During my postdoctoral career at Aston, I was involved in a wide variety of research areas, including: pyrolysis processes of biomass with the application of gas chromatography (Py-GC-MS) and thermogravimetric (TGA) analytical methods (SUPERGEN project, LignoValue project), catalytic pyrolysis of biomass and acid-hydrolysis residues, catalytic esterification of bio-oils (DIBANET project) as well as hydrodeoxygenation of pyrolysis liquids (SUPERGEN Bioenergy Hub project).

    My current research efforts at Energy and Bioproducts Research Institute are mainly associated with:

    • Thermochemical and physical properties of biomass and natural polymers
    • Biochar production and characterisation
    • Hydrothermal liquefaction of lignocellulosic biomass and algae
    • Analytical pyrolysis
    • Characterisation and standardisation of biofuels
    • Catalytic upgrading of fast pyrolysis liquids
    • Inorganic matter in biomass and bio-chars
    • SEM-EDX studies of carbonaceous materials

    I coordinate all research tasks assigned to Aston University within the H2020 ABC-Salt project (2018-2022).

    Since 2013 I have managed EBRI Laboratories in the following areas: implementation of Aston statutory H&S regulations, preventative maintenance contracts, equipment specification and procurement, risk assessments, safe operating procedures and first aid.

    Since 2017, my role as a lecturer includes laboratory-based teaching (Chemical Engineering and Process Control), supervision of MEng and PhD students along with involvement in the Muscat University Partnership.

    Research Interests

    • Thermal processing of biomass, waste and micro/macro-algae
    • Biomass-to-Liquid technologies - production of synthetic fuels from biomass through different thermochemical routes
    • Catalytic pyrolysis of biomass, lignins and waste
    • Catalytic hydrodeoxygenation (HDO) of fast pyrolysis liquids
    • Applications of pyrolysis chars (bio-char)
    • Pyrolysis processes of biomass with the application of advanced analytical methods, including: TGA - thermogravimetric analysis, Py-GC-MS/FID - analytical pyrolysis with the application of gas chromatography and mass spectrometry, HS-MS - head space analysis of organic volatiles with the application of mass spectrometry, FTIR - Fourier transform spectroscopy
    • Biomass torrefaction
    • Valorisation of lignin
    • Upgrading of biomass-derived/pyrolysis oils via esterification over solid acid catalysts
    • NMR characterisation of bio-liquids
    • Analytical instrumentation (thermal analysis, gas chromatography, spectroscopy, GC on-line analyses)
    • Process control instrumentation (including high-pressure systems and on-line analyses)
    • Renewable energy technologies
    • Laboratory Health & Safety

    Teaching Activity

    Chemical Engineering Laboratories for: CE2004 - Transfer Processes, CE2009 - Process Control and Instrumentation, CE2103 - Separation Processes,  and CE2113 - Reaction Engineering.

    External Connections and Partnerships


    Current supervision

    1. Hydrothermal liquefaction of algae, PhD Research Student: Christopher Thomas (Aston University EAS funded PhD project; 2017-2020)
    2. Production of biofuels from various lignocellulosic waste streams by liquefaction and hydro-pyrolysis; PhD Research Student: Regina Siu (H2020 ABC-Salt funded PhD project, 2018-2021)
    3. Upgrading of algae-derived bio-crudes for bio-refinery integration; MEng. Project Student: Mohammed Hassan (MEng. project 2019-20)
    4. Hydrothermal conversion of lignocellulosics waste to bio-fuels; MEng. Project Student: Isam Khan Woolley (MEng. project 2019-20)

    M.Sc. / M.Eng. / B.Sc. supervision (2008-2018)

    1. Feedstock selection and characterisation for various thermochemical conversion processes (Arman Zaman, M.Eng. 2018)
    2. Hydrothermal processing of algae for the production of biofuels and value-added chemicals (Regina Siu, M.Eng. 2018)
    3. Catalytic pyrolysis of lignin (Kassam Ahmed, M.Eng. 2016)
    4. Biomass refinement by torrefaction (Yousef Rizvi, M.Eng. 2016)
    5. Hydrothermal liquefaction of algal feedstocks (Christopher Thomas, M.Eng. 2016)
    6. Sequential catalytic upgrading of fast pyrolysis vapours (Ilias Abdi, M.Eng. 2015)
    7. Optimisation of catalytic fast pyrolysis processing conditions (Tariq Anwar, M.Eng. 2015)
    8. Design and modelling of biomass torrefaction (Tahir Shaffique, M.Eng. 2014)
    9. Upgrading of fast pyrolysis bio-oil by hydrodeoxygenation (Chioma Ewurum, M.Eng. 2013)
    10. The impact of alkali metals in biomass on physical and chemical properties of fast pyrolysis bio-oil (Yee Tang, M.Eng. 2011)
    11. Improvement of biomass thermochemical and physical properties via torrefaction (Jai Lad, M.Eng. 2011)
    12. Slow and fast pyrolysis processing of biomass (Sunday Odusolua, M.Eng. 2011)
    13. Characterisation and thermal, chemical and physical processing of green and brown algae (Shirin R. Dybsjord, M.Eng. 2010)
    14. Partial Oxidation of lignin (Bavesh Raval, M.Eng. 2010)
    15. Catalytic pyrolysis of lignin (Anthony Odongo, M.Eng. 2010)
    16. Torrefaction of biomass (William Helliker, M.Eng. 2009)
    17. Thermochemical lignin processing in autoclave (Miloud Quadi, M.Eng. 2009)
    18. Biomass liquefaction (Amir Jafaripour, M.Eng. 2009)
    19. Alkaline hydrolysis of lignin (Javinder S. Sandhu, M.Sc. 2009)
    20. Liquefaction of macroalgae (Fahid Mirza, M.Sc. 2009)
    21. Modelling of fast pyrolysis reactor (Ahmed Sobeih, B.Sc./Eng. 2008)

    PhD Students supervision – BRISK project (2012-2015)

    1. Malwina Snieg (University of Warmia and Mazury in Olsztyn, Poland) Characterisation of bio-oils produced from selected several species of perennial energy crops; 07/2015
    2. Simona Intini (STAR-Facility Centre in Foggia, Italy) – Hydrothermal liquefaction of micro- and macro-algae; 07/2015
    3. Giedrius Stravinskas (Lithuanian Energy Institute in Kaunas, Lithuania) – Characterization of sewage sludge and biomass mixtures by Py-GC-MS/FID; 06/2015
    4. Marcin Sajdak (Institute for chemical processing of Coal in Zabrze, Poland) – Production of biofuels by catalytic co-pyrolysis of biomass and waste polymers; 05/2015
    5. Agnija Ievina (Riga Technical University, Latvia) - Catalytic pyrolysis of biomass; 04/2015
    6. Giulia Lotti (University of Florence, Italy) - Biomassanalytical pyrolysis and characterisation of pyrolysis liquids; 02/2015
    7. Pelle Mellin (KTH, Sweden) - Catalytic pyrolysis and co-pyrolysis of biomass and polymers; 08/2014
    8. Abdul Hye (KTH, Sweden) - Analytical pyrolysis of biomass and polymers; 08/2014
    9. Gozde Duman (Ege University, Turkey) - Catalytic (red mud) pyrolysis of biomass; 08/2014
    10. Antonio Pineda (Departamento de Química Orgánica, Universidad de Córdoba, Spain); Catalytic pyrolysis of biomass using zeolite catalysts; 11/2012
    11. Carlos Alberto Cuvila (KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden) - Thermochemical characterisation of acid hydrolysis residues; 10-11/2012
    12. Natalia Gómez Marín (Instituto de Recursos Naturales, Universidad de León, Spain) - Fast pyrolysis processing of rape straw; 10/2012

    Membership of Professional Bodies

    Member of the Institution of Chemical Engineers.
    Member of the Royal Society of Chemistry.
    Member of the International Lignin Institute.


    Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

    In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

    • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy


    • QD Chemistry
    • analytical chemistry
    • TP Chemical technology


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