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Dr Avtar Matharu

01904 324187

Dr Avtar Singh Matharu is Senior Lecturer and Deputy Director of the Green Chemistry Centre of Excellence (GCCE).  The GCCE is an internationally-leading academic facility for the provision of excellence in green and sustainable chemical technologies, processes and products.  He is External Examiner at Keele University for their Postgraduate Taught MSc in Environmental Science & Green Technologies and Section Editor for Current Opinion in Green and Sustainable Chemistry (Elsevier).

Avtar specialises in gaining high additional chemical value from otherwise low-value resources or waste such as unavoidable food supply chain wastes, developing sustainable supply chains and circular economy within the context of biorefineries.  He is technology platform leader for Renewable Materials working on range of biomass related materials and applications.

Recent Research Projects

EPSRC: Systems Change

Whole systems understanding of unavoidable food supply chain waste for re-nutrition (2017-2018, £800,000). In collaboration with University of Nottingham and Loughborough University with External Advisory partners from 8 different companies from the UK food manufacturing sector. 

This project explores four different feedstocks (brewers spent grains, pea vine waste, out of specification potatoes, out of specification citrus fruits) and undertakes four inter-related tasks to verify new technologies and process-driven whole systems change understanding of unavoidable food supply chain waste within the context of a circular economy.

Task 1: Waste Flow Modelling  

Objective: to assess the viability of identified food waste streams via bespoke modelling

Task 2: Technologies and processes

Objective: to assess current and innovative technologies and processes for exploiting UFSCW enabling accelerated implementation in future manufacturing.

Task 3: Environmental analysis through Life Cycle Assessment

Objective: to assess environmental ramifications of industrial technologies and processes

Task4: Whole systems change and Circular Economy

Objective: to assess implications of whole systems change on circularity and responsible innovation for upgrading of UFSCW.

Systems change graphic

InnovateUK, BBSRC, EPSRC IB Cat: Round 3 Early stage translation

Integrated energy efficient microwave and unique fermentation processes for pilot scale production of high value chemicals from lignocellulosic waste (2016-2020, £3.2 M).  In collaboration with University of Bath and C-Tech Innovation Ltd, Croda, AB Agri.

Student loading a microwave reactor

Recently, we reported an innovative one-step microwave (MW) process for the depolymerisation of bio-wastes. This key enabling technology achieves high sugar yields despite low energy inputs. Though a range of inhibitors are also formed in the process which limit the growth of most yeasts, we have shown that the robust yeast Metschnikowia pulcherrima (Mp) thrives on this feedstock to produce valuable 2-phenylethanol, arabinitol and a microbial oil akin to palm oil. Therefore this project aims to develop a pilot scale multi-product process by coupling these breakthroughs in low energy waste treatment and unique fermentation to produce high value chemicals.