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Dr Jude Onwudili - Aston University. Birmingham, , GB

Dr Jude Onwudili

Lecturer in Chemical Engineering | Aston University


Dr Onwudili is an experienced researcher, having worked on a number of projects on catalytic and non-catalytic thermochemic processing.











Dr Onwudili is a Senior Lecturer in Chemical Engineering in the Deprtament of Chemical Engineering & Applied Chemistry. He was previously a Research Fellow at the renowned Energy Research Institute, School of Chemical & Process Engineering at the University of Leeds, under the supervision of Professor Paul T. Williams.

Onwudili is an experienced researcher, having worked on a number of EPSRC-funded and industrially-funded research projects on catalytic and non-catalytic thermochemical (hydrothermal, combustion, pyrolysis and gasification) processing of biomass, plastics, algae and municipal solid wastes for the production of fuels, chemicals and materials.

He is currently developing and leading a Sustainable Chemicals Laboratory at the European Bioenergy Research Institute, Aston University.

Areas of Expertise (5)

Advanced Renewable (Bioenergy) Technologies

Renewable Energy Technologies‎

Chemical Product Design

Chemical Process Design

Advanced Process Design

Education (2)

University of Leeds: PhD 2005

University of Ibadan: BSc

Affiliations (4)

  • Associate Member – Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE)
  • Full Member- Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC)
  • Full Member – Society of Chemical Industry (SCI)
  • Senior Fellow – Higher Education Academy (HEA)

Articles (3)

Comparative techno-economic modelling of large-scale thermochemical biohydrogen production technologies to fuel public buses: A case study of West Midlands region of England

Renewable Energy

2022 This work presents techno-economic modelling of four thermochemical technologies that could produce over 22,000 tonnes/year of hydrogen from biomass for >2000 public transport buses in West Midlands region, UK. These included fluidised bed (FB) gasification, fast pyrolysis-FB gasification, fast pyrolysis-steam reforming, and steam reforming of biogas from anaerobic digestion (AD). Each plant was modelled on ASPEN plus with and without carbon capture and storage (CCS), and their process flow diagrams, mass and energy balances used for economic modelling. Payback periods ranged from 5.10 to 7.18 years. For operations with CCS, in which the captured CO2 was sold, FB gasification gave the lowest minimum hydrogen selling price of $3.40/kg. This was followed by AD-biogas reforming ($4.20/kg), while pyrolysis-gasification and pyrolysis-reforming gave $4.83/kg and $7.30/kg, respectively. Hydrogen selling prices were sensitive to raw material costs and internal rates of return, while revenue from selling CO2 was very important to make biohydrogen production cost competitive. FB gasification and AD-biogas reforming with CCS could deliver hydrogen at less than or around $4/kg when CO2 was sold at above $75/tonne. This study showed that thermochemical technologies could produce biohydrogen at competitive prices to extend the current use of electrolytic hydrogen-fuelled buses in Birmingham to the wider West Midlands region.

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Process modelling and economic evaluation of biopropane production from aqueous butyric acid feedstock

Renewable Energy

2022 Catalytic hydrothermal decarboxylation of biomass-derived butyric acid can produce renewable biopropane as a direct drop-in replacement fuel for liquefied petroleum gases. In this present study, experimental results from a batch reactor have been used to develop a hypothetical continuous process to deliver 20,000 tonnes/year of biopropane, as base-case capacity, from 10 wt% aqueous butyric acid. A combination of process synthesis and ASPEN Hysys simulation have been used to formulate a process flowsheet, after equipment selection. The flowsheet has been used to carry out economic analyses, which show that the minimum selling price of biopropane is $2.51/kg without selling the CO2 co-product. However, with the incorporation of existing UK renewable energy incentives, the minimum selling price can reduce to $0.98/kg, which is cheaper than the current $1.25/kg selling price for fossil liquefied petroleum gases. Sensitivity analysis based on raw material costs and production capacities show profound influence on the minimum selling price, with strong potentials to making biopropane competitive without incentivisation, whereas the influence of selling CO2 is marginal. While this biopropane technology appears promising, it still requires more detailed technical and process data, life-cycle analysis and detail economic costings and testing at a pilot-scale prior to commercial exploitation.

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Optimisation of Propane Production from Hydrothermal Decarboxylation of Butyric Acid Using Pt/C Catalyst: Influence of Gaseous Reaction Atmospheres


2021 The displacement and eventual replacement of fossil-derived fuel gases with biomass-derived alternatives can help the energy sector to achieve net zero by 2050. Decarboxylation of butyric acid, which can be obtained from biomass, can produce high yields of propane, a component of liquefied petroleum gases. The use of different gaseous reaction atmospheres of nitrogen, hydrogen, and compressed air during the catalytic hydrothermal conversion of butyric acid to propane have been investigated in a batch reactor within a temperature range of 200–350 °C. The experimental results were statistically evaluated to find the optimum conditions to produce propane via decarboxylation while minimizing other potential side reactions. The results revealed that nitrogen gas was the most appropriate atmosphere to control propane production under the test conditions between 250 °C and 300 °C, during which the highest hydrocarbon selectivity for propane of up to 97% was achieved. Below this temperature range, butyric acid conversion remained low under the three reaction atmospheres. Above 300 °C, competing reactions became more significant. Under compressed air atmosphere, oxidation to CO2 became dominant, and under nitrogen, thermal cracking of propane became significant, producing both ethane and methane as side products. Interestingly, under a hydrogen atmosphere, hydrogenolytic cracking propane became dominant, leading to multiple C–C bond cleavages to produce methane as the main side product at 350 °C.

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