• 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: Low carbon hydrogen production from biomass gasification. Application deadline: 15th December 2023.
    Potential start date: April 2024

    Personal profile


    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.

    I graduated from BEng. in Chemical Engineering at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), in 2007. I worked as a chemical/field engineer in an environmental consultancy, undertaking main activities 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 Co-I of the new supergen Impact Hub, working on a technology development task for low carbon hydrogen production. I am part of the Wolfson Centre for low carbon hydrogen, also linked to Supergen. I am Co-I in 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 also UK-representative for the International Energy Agency (IEA) Task 33: Biomass gasification. I am keen on developing and supervising research around biomass conversion, product upgrading, catalyst development, carbon capture, hydrogen production and utilisation, biomass resources, etc.

    Current PhD studentship opportunity: Low carbon hydrogen production from biomass gasification at Aston University on FindAPhD.com

    Application deadline: 15th December 2023

    Potential start date: April 2024

    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: PhD Studentship linked to the Supergen Bioenergy Impact Hub: Low carbon hydrogen production from biomass gasification at Aston University on FindAPhD.com

    Application deadline: 15th December 2023 (Start date: April 2024)


    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:


    Module Contributor:

    CE4ICA Industrial catalysis

    CE3APD Final Year Design Project: Teaching Process Control & supervising projects

    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


    Journal of Analytical and Applied Pyrolysis (JAAP); Fuel & Energy Journal; EPSRC; BBSCR proposals

    CEAC Memberships:

    Member of CREST - CEAC Retention and Engagement Team

    Other activities:

    Support on Open-Days

    Contact Details

    Phone number: +44 (0)121 204 4399
    Email:  [email protected] 
    Room Number: MB184-B 

    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
    • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
    • SDG 9 - Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
    • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
    • SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production
    • SDG 13 - Climate Action

    Education/Academic qualification

    PhD, Nickel based catalysts for hydrogen production from the pyrolysis/gasification of refuse derived fuels (RDF) - RESEARCH EXCELLENCE -, University of Leeds

    18 Oct 201022 Dec 2014

    Award Date: 22 Dec 2014

    BEng. Chemical Engineering: Plasma technology for the conversion of municipal solid waste, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

    1 Sept 200223 Feb 2007

    Award Date: 23 Feb 2007


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


    Dive into the research topics where Paula Helena Blanco Sanchez is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.
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