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Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology


Dr Ewa Marek. With her background in fuel processing, Ewa has been involved in R&D activities and measurements at industrial sites (mostly conventional power plants). At the same time, she earned a Ph.D. on the combustion of a single particle of fuel, which she characterised using advanced image analysis. Those skills were useful during a short, post-doc adventure at the University of Nottingham. Since 2014, she has been an active researcher at the University of Cambridge, where she worked as a PDRA in the Combustion Group at the Engineering Dept. before becoming a University Lecturer in Chemical Eng.&Biotech. Dept., where she now leads the Combustion Group.

Her research interests focus on conventional and new energy technologies, mainly on generating heat and power industrially. She works on chemical looping for energy conversion, as well as for producing chemicals in non-conventional ways. Her favourite research techniques are XRD, CFD, DEM and TGA. She has co-authored patents for a burner, which works with various oxidising mixtures, and a new method for producing epoxides.



Prof. John Dennis is Head of the University's School of Technology, after having been Head of the Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology. He was an undergraduate in the Engineering Department in Cambridge and then transferred to the Chemical Engineering Tripos, graduating in 1981. He stayed on to do a Ph.D. with Prof. Allan Hayhurst. Soon after that, in 1984, he was promoted to an assistant lectureship in the Department and undertook teaching and research until 1989, working on the control of sulphur emissions from fluidised bed combustors and on how gases burn in fluidised beds.

He has experience in earning a living outside a university, when working as a consultant. Occasionally, he now succeeds in leaving his administrative duties to think about research.

Prof. John Davidson is most well known for his pioneering works on fluidisation, which were published as Fluidised Particles (1963), one of the first books on fluidisation. John's career is well described on his Wikipedia page.

He is a Fellow of the Royal Society and was awarded a Royal Medal in 1999. He was President of the Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) from 1970 to 1971, and Vice-president of the Royal Society in 1989. He was appointed a Foundation Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering. He still enjoys joining in the activities of the group.

Prof. Allan Hayhurst is an Emeritus Professor with more than 250 publications on various aspects of Chemical Engineering, flames and air pollution, including fluidised beds. He has been Editor of the journal “Combustion and Flame”. He was awarded the Egerton Gold Medal of The Combustion Institute and is an Honorary Professor at Krakow University of Technology. His current interests include using biomass as a clean and sustainable source of energy and how to burn wastes (solid, liquid or gasous) responsibly in a fluidised bed. Although nominally retired, he enjoys meeting and working with young researchers.

Dr Michael Sargent joined the group in 2017 while finishing his Ph.D. in microstructure processing with the P4Group here in CEB. His research is less involved in combustion reactions and instead draws on Prof Dennis' experience in separation processes, looking at methods by which Nylon monomers may be separated and purified from one another, contaminants, as well as by-products of synthesis or recycle processes. The monomers make these processes interesting because the organic molecules are differently charged, depending on the pH of the solution, leading to applications of chromatographic separation, as well as solvents of differing polarity.

Zach Bond is a Ph.D. student studying the combustion of woody biomass in fluidised beds, in particular how the emission of volatile matter from the fuel affects the heat transfer and motion of the fuel in the fluidised medium. He studied Chemical Engineering as an undergraduate here at C.E.B. and undertook his Master’s research project, on Calcium Looping, in the Combustion Group.

Clayton Rabideau is a Ph.D. student. He joined the group in 2016. He is an expert on artificial intelligence and machine learning, and uses both in bio-chemical engineering applications.

Samuel Gabra is a Ph.D. student who joined the group in 2017, having completed his M.Phil. in Energy Technologies at the University of Cambridge. His current research explores the possibilities of using Chemical Looping techniques to produce value-added chemicals (e.g., ethylene and ethylene oxide) in greener, safer and more cost-effective ways.

Kenny Kwong is a 2nd year Ph.D. student, working on chemical looping combustion with oxygen-uncoupling (CLOU) of solid fuel particles in a fluidised bed. He obtained his M.Eng. in Chemical Engineering at the University of Cambridge and is currently supervising such undergraduate courses as Process dynamics and Control and Partial Differential Equations. Apart from work, he enjoys long-distance running (in the summer) and snow watching (in the winter).

Ben Houlton joined the Combustion Group in 2019 as a Ph.D. student after completing a B.E.(Hons) and research M.E. in Chemical and Process Engineering at the University of Canterbury (New Zealand). His research as a PhD student under the supervision of Professor John Dennis and Dr Ewa Marek is funded by a Cambridge Trust Prince of Wales Scholarship, and is focussed on developing and characterising suitable catalysts for chemical looping reactions, including the epoxidation of ethylene.
Zhuotong (Thomas) Sun joined the group in 2019. Prior to starting his Ph.D. at Cambridge, he graduated from Imperial College London in Chemical Engineering. His undergraduate research was on pyrolysing methane at high temperatures to produce hydrogen. He is currently focussing on using chemical looping for ethylene epoxidation, propylene epoxidation and ammonium production.


Master's research projects (IIB)


Luke Mleczko and Walid Moujar Bakhti are studying the combustion of chars. Supervisor: Dr Marek, mentor: Kenny Kwong.

Udayin Adukia and Shekeil Nasser are investigating promoters for chemical looping epoxidation. Supervisor: Dr Marek, mentor: Samuel Gabra.

Josephine Ruggins and Alex Willimas are working on the combustion of a liquid waste like glycerol in a fluidised bed. Supervisor: Prof. Hayhurst and Dr Marek.


Andras Volford and Thomas Redko worked on pyrolysis of single particles of spruce. Some results from this research project have been published in Combustion and Flame.

Thomas McCann during his research project combusted industrial glycerol. This was the first successful and longlasting combustion of waste glycerol performed in a fluidised bed. His findings have been submitted for publication.

Past Members

Dr Wenting Hu. He is now a University Lecturer at the Newcastle University.

Dr Martin Chan, now working for a secret start-up company.

Dr Felix Donat, now at ETH Zurich.

Dr Ross Hubble, now at Comsol.

Dr Paul Hodgson, now a PDRA at the Dept. of Engineering, Cambridge.