Dr Sharon Velasquez Orta
Lecturer in Chemical Engineering
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 7278
- Address: Merz Court
Newcastle upon Tyne
Before pursuing my academic career, I acquired experience in environmental industrial processes working with companies such as Nestle, J&J, P&G, Kimberly Clarck and Jumex. Since then, I have used a multidisciplinary approach to address current world challenges in areas related to sustainability, biomass valorisation and effective management of waste, with a specific focus on understanding biomass transformations. As part of my PhD and further academic studies, I’ve investigated how biomass can enable energy production, bacterial monitoring and wastewater treatment across multiple applications. My research over the past 10 years has focused in enabling the development of novel technologies such as microbial fuel cells (MFC) across a broad range of applications. To this aim, I have partnered with different Universities (Tanzania, Mexico, US) and companies (Palintest, Northumbrian Water) to enable these novel applications to be tested in the field. As an example, my most recent research, sponsored by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) has allowed us to test an inexpensive MFC in Tanzania wells, aiming to provide early monitoring of faecal contamination to rural communities.
- 2005 – 2010 Integrated PhD in Environmental Sciences Newcastle University, UK. Schools of Civil Engineering & Geosciences and, Chemical Engineering & Advanced Materials.Thesis: Bioelectricity production from simple and complex organic compounds using Microbial Fuel Cells. 2005-2006 Master in Environmental engineering courses.
- 2007 – 2009 Postgraduate Certificate in Advance Studies in Academic Practice Newcastle University, UK. Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences.
- 2004 – 2009 MEng in Environmental Engineering Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), Mexico. Faculty of Engineering. Thesis: Development of a microbial fuel cell biosensor for wastewater monitoring.
- 1999 – 2003 BEng in Chemical Engineering La Salle University, México. Thesis: Sequential and continuous industrial process simulation and control (Univ. of South Florida, USA).
- June 2016 Awarded 2nd prize in short presentation. 6th UK Algal Conference.
- September 2015 Recognised as a Leading Innovator under 35 by MIT Technology Review.
- June 2011 Spotlight achievement award given by the School of Chemical Engineering
- March, 2009 Nominated to the Newcastle student achievement award in the environmental impact category.
- April 2008 Awarded best conference poster in the 9th UK International Water Association Conference for Young Professionals
- January 2015 Invited guest panellist to discuss the Tools for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene implementation. UN International Zaragoza Conference. Water and Sustainable Development from Vision to Action. Zaragoza, Spain
- April 2013 Invited speaker to present the work: Biofuel production from marine microalgae. Instituto Mexicano de Ingenieros Químicos (IMIQ). Instituto Politecnico Nacional (IPN). ESIQUIE. Mexico City, Mexico
- September 2012 Invited guest speaker to the bioelectrochemical systems networking event at IWA 2012. Supported by the Global Partnership Fund (GPF) of UK-BIS. Busan, Korea
- October 2010 – Invited to present a poster in the International Review of Energy organized by EPSRC
- April 2010 – Shortlisted candidate by the Royal Academy of Engineering/EPSRC to obtain a Research Fellowship at Newcastle University to gain research independence in energy from wastes.
- June, 2009 – present. Invited research article reviewer for: Bioresource & Technology; Microbiology & Biotechnology; Fuels; Journal of Chemical Engineering
- 2016-2017 PI Newton Fund (£80k). Collaboration with UNAM, Mexico: "Biofuel production from wastewater treatment" (1y)
- 2016-2017 PI UNAM Mexican International Collaboration Programme (£2.7k) for the project titled: “Produccion de hidrocarburos para bioturbosina a partir de microalgas” (1y)
- 2015-2016 PI Institute for Sustainability (£9k). "Can Shewanella Oneidensis MR-1 convert CO2 to biochemicals?"
- 2015 PI Newton Fund (£4k) Research visit to UNAM, Mexico: “Development and commercialisation of microalgae technologies for energy production, wastewater treatment and CO2 capture”
- 2014-2015 PI NERC Research Grant (£150k). Collaboration with Ardhi University, Tanzania in the project titled IN-GROUND: Inexpensive monitoring of Groundwater pollution in Urban African Districts (1 y)
- 2012-2014 CoI UNAM Mexican International Collaboration Programme (£14k) for the project titled: “Ozonoflotación de microalgas para la producción de biodiesel” (2 y)
- 2012 - Knowledge Transfer Partnership (£14k) Partnership with Palintest Ltd. to commercialise a biosensor
- 2009 Faculty of Engineering and Geosciences, NU (£4k) Enterprise scholarship
- 2008 Royal Society of Chemistry (£400) Granted the Alan Tetlow Bursary for a Conference
- 2008 International Water Association (£200) Awarded to attend the World Water Congress
- 2005-2010 British Council/ CONACYT bursary (£45k) Granted to study my Integrated PhD
- 2004 Rotary international funds (£1K) to support a youth workshop on water conservation
- Since 2009 Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
- 2007-2013 Affiliate Member of the Royal Society of Chemistry
- 2005-2013 Member of the International Water association
- 2006-2009 Member of Society of Chemical Industry
English (fluent), French (fluent), Spanish (native speaker)
My research involves the evaluation of new environmental technologies that can achieve both energy generation and waste remediation. I am interested in the production of renewable energy from liquid, solid wastes and microalgae by applying bioelectrochemical, chemical and thermal techniques. Inspired by the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, my vision is to advance environmental technologies that can monitor waste pollution and that can sustainably transform waste or biomass. I lead different projects within the BioRE (Environmental bio-electrochemistry and bio-Renewable Energy) group and I am also part of the Process Intensification Group. Researchers and students that work with me participate on different seminars and engage with an interdisciplinary community working on environmental, process intensification, electrochemistry and biological engineering fields.
PhD projects offered: I'll be happy to send you a description of the project and a sample of our research articles.
- Microbial electrosynthesis of chemicals: converting carbon dioxide to vinegar and other compounds
- Biofuel production from microalgae
- Continuous monitoring of water pollution using self-reliant systems
- Novel wastewater treatment operations using green microalgae
- Decreasing CO2 emissions from the water industry using intensified processes
Areas of research:
Bio-electrochemistry Technology: Microbial Fuel Cells (MFCs) are a type of technology that enables wastewater treatment and electricity generation. MFCs utilise various organic electron donors under anaerobic conditions and directly transform chemical energy into electrical energy via a series of electrochemical reactions. I have studied the effect of different organic wastewaters, novel mediator compounds and organic loading rates on bioelectricity production, organic matter removal and microbial diversity. I am also interested into using Microbial Electrosynthesis for carbon dioxide transformation to longer chain organic molecules. In this area our group has conducted economic and sustainability evaluations, recently proving the feasibility of using bioelectrochemical reactors on fermentation tanks to convert CO2 waste emissions. To know more about this research visit: http://www.staff.ncl.ac.uk/sharon.velasquez-orta/
Bio-fuel Production: Biofuel can be produced from wastewater sludge and microalgae using chemical (in situ transesterification), thermal (catalytic cracking) or biological processes. These two processes offer several advantages such as the elimination of the oil extraction step, potential improvement on biofuel yield, and reduction in the transportation of intermediate products. In situ transesterification is utilised for biodiesel production while catalytic cracking can produce several types of biofuels such as methane, biodiesel and jet fuel. To know more about this field of research visit: http://pig.ncl.ac.uk
Sustainable Engineering Systems: Collaboration with SECURE (Self Conserving Urban Environments): Life cycle analysis to determine the energy use and carbon emissions produced during the transportation, treatment and final disposal of solid wastes, wastewater produced in the North East of England. To know more about this research visit: https://www.secure-project.org/
Graduated PhD students:
- 2012-2015 Dr. Kamoru Salam, Reactive extraction of algal biomass
- 2013-2016 Dr. Xenia Christodoulou, Microbial electrosynthesis for CO2 conversion
2017 Hydrocarbon production and process engineering (CME8022, MSc Pipeline Engineering). Leader 80%, 10 credits
2016 Energy Sources and Storage (CME8055, MSc in Mechanical Engineering ). 25%, 10 credits
2015 Experimental Design (CME2026, BEng/MEng in Chemical Engineering) Module leader 100%, 5credits
2014, 2015 Transfer Processes 2 (CME2022, BEng/MEng in Chemical Engineering) 50%, 20credits
2011, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016 Biomass and Waste Technology (SPG8008, MSc in REFLEX) 15%, 10credits
2012, 2014, 2015, 2016 Process Economics (CME 3032, BEng/MEng Chemical Engineering) 23%, 15credits
2012 & 2014, 2015, 2016 Plant Design (CME3039, BEng/MEng in Chemical Engineering) 5%, 40credits
2013 Separation Processes 1 (CME2022, BEng/MEng in Chemical Engineering) 15%, 10 credits
2012 Delivered two lectures in pollution monitoring (CME 8010, MSc in Clean Technology)
2012 Delivered two lectures in sustainable industry (CME8038, MSc in Clean Technology)
2010 Delivered a lecture in microalgae processing to master students in clean technology.
2010 Delivered a lecture on microbial fuel cells for energy generation to master students in environmental geochemistry.
2006-2010 Delivered lectures and conducted laboratory demonstrations on different courses in the MSc in Environmental Engineering programme.
- Velasquez-Orta SB, Werner D, Varia J, Mgana S. Microbial fuel cells for inexpensive continuous in-situ monitoring of groundwater quality. Water Research 2017. In Press.
- Christodoulou X, Velasquez-Orta SB. Microbial electrosynthesis and anaerobic fermentation: An economic evaluation for acetic acid production from CO2 and CO. Environmental Science and Technology 2016, 50(20), 11234–11242.
- Valeriano González MT, Monje-Ramírez I, Orta Ledesma MT, Gracia-Fadrique J, Velásquez-Orta SB. Harvesting microalgae using ozoflotation releases surfactant proteins, facilitates biomass recovery and lipid extraction. Biomass and Bioenergy 2016, 95, 109-115.
- Salam K, Velasquez-Orta SB, Harvey AP. Kinetics of fast alkali reactive extraction/in situ transesterification of Chlorella vulgaris that identifies process conditions for a significant enhanced rate and water tolerance. Fuel Processing Technology 2016, 144, 212–219.
- Varia JC, Zegeye A, Velasquez-Orta S, Bull S. Process analysis of AuCl4- sorption leading to gold nanoparticle synthesis by Shewanella putrefaciens. Chemical Engineering Journal 2016, 288, 482-488.
- Salam K, Velasquez-Orta SB, Harvey AP. Surfactant-assisted direct biodiesel production from wet Nannochloropsis occulata by in situ transesterification/reactive extraction. Biofuel Research Journal 2016, 3(1), 366-371.
- Salam KA, Velasquez-Orta SB, Harvey AP. In Situ Transesterification of Wet Marine and Fresh Water Microalgae for Biodiesel Production and Its Effect on the Algal Residue. Journal of Sustainable Bioenergy Systems 2016, 6(2), 17-30.
- Velasquez-Orta SB. Low cost microbial fuel cell biosensors. In: UN International Zaragoza Conference: Tools for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene implementation. Water and Sustainable Development from Vision to Action. 2015, Zaragoza, Spain: United Nations.
- Velasquez-Orta SB, Lee JGM, Harvey AP. Catalytic cracking using ZSM-5 or Zeolite-Y and pyrolysis of Chlorella vulgaris. In: 5th International Conference on Algal Biomass, Biofuels and Bioproducts. 2015, San Diego, USA.
- Velasquez-Orta SB, Garcia-Estrada R, Monje-Ramirez I, Harvey A, Orta Ledesma MT. Microalgae harvesting using ozoflotation: Effect on lipid and FAME recoveries. Biomass and Bioenergy 2014, 70, 356-363.
- Oladapo K, Velasquez Orta SB, Monje-Ramirez I, Yáñez Noguez I, Harvey AP, Orta Ledesma MT. Biodiesel production from indigenous microalgae grown in wastewater. Bioresource Technology 2014, 154, 297-304.
- Varia JC, Silva Martinez S, Velasquez-Orta S, Bull S. Microbiological influence of metal ion electrodeposition: Studies using graphite electrodes, [AuCl4]− and Shewanella putrefaciens. Electrochimica Acta 2014, 115, 344-351.
- Velasquez-Orta SB. Alternatives for energy production in aerobic wastewater treatment facilities. Water Science and Technology 2013, 67(12), 2856-2862.
- Varia J, Silva Martinez S, Velasquez Orta SB, Bull S, Roy S. Bioelectrochemical metal remediation and recovery of Au3+, Co2+ and Fe3+ metal ions. Electrochimica Acta 2013, 95, 125-131.
- Velasquez-Orta SB, Lee JGM, Harvey A. Evaluation of FAME production from wet marine and freshwater microalgae by in situ transesterification. Biochemical Engineering Journal 2013, 76, 83-89.
- Velasquez Orta SB, Lee JGM, Harvey A. Alkaline in situ transesterification of Chlorella vulgaris. Fuel 2012, 94, 544-550.
- Velasquez-Orta SB, Curtis TP, Logan BE. Energy From Algae Using Microbial Fuel Cells. Biotechnology and Bioengineering 2009, 103(6), 1068-1076.
- Velasquez-Orta SB, Head IM, Curtis TP, Scott K, Lloyd JR, von Canstein H. The effect of flavin electron shuttles in microbial fuel cells current production. Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology 2010, 85(5), 1373-1381.
- Velasquez Orta SB, Head IM, Curtis TP, Scott K. Factors affecting current production in microbial fuel cells using different industrial wastewaters. Bioresource Technology 2011, 102(8), 5105-5112.
- Velasquez-Orta SB, Yu E, Katuri KP, Head IM, Curtis TP, Scott K. Evaluation of hydrolysis and fermentation rates in microbial fuel cells. Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology 2011, 90(2), 789-798.
- Di Lorenzo M, Curtis T, Head IM, Velasquez-Orta SB, Scott K. A single chamber packed bed microbial fuel cell biosensor for measuring organic content of wastewater. Water Science and Technology 2009, 60(11), 2879-2887.
- Velasquez-Orta SB, Graham D. Integration of waste emissions and energy use in sustainable urban infrastructure models. In: Planet Under Pressure Conference. 2012, London, UK.
- Velasquez-Orta SB, Harvey AP, Lee J. Biodiesel production from nannochloropsis occulata by in situ transesterification. In: European Process Intensification Conference. 2011, Manchester, UK: AIChE.
- Salam K, Velasquez-Orta SB, Harvey AP. Intensification of Algal Biodiesel by in situ transesterification. In: 4th International conference on Algal Biomass, Biofuels and Bioproducts. 2014, Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA.
- Velasquez-Orta SB, Head I, Curtis T, Scott K. Power production enhacement by using novel mediators in a microbial fuel cell. In: 6th Worldwater Congress and Exhibition. 2008, Vienna, Austria.
- Velasquez-Orta SB. New technologies for electricity generation from urban wastewater treatment. In: 7th Worldwide Workshop for Young Environmental Scientists. 2008, Paris, France: University Paris-Est Creteil (UPEC).
- Salam KA, Velasquez-Orta SB, Harvey AP. A sustainable integrated in situ transesterification of microalgae for biodiesel production and associated co-product - a review. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 2016, 65, 1179-1198.
- Christodoulou X, Okoroafor T, Parry S, Velasquez-Orta S. The use of carbon dioxide in microbial electrosynthesis: Advancements, sustainability and economic feasibility. Journal of CO2 Utilization 2017, 18, 390-399.