School of Chemical Engineering and Advanced Materials

Staff Profile

Dr Sharon Velasquez Orta

Lecturer in Chemical Engineering


Dr Sharon Velasquez Orta is a lecturer in the School of Chemical Engineering and Advanced Materials in Newcastle University. Before pursuing an academic career, Dr Velasquez Orta acquired experience in environmental industrial processes and the research of environmental systems. 


2005 – 2009 Integrated PhD in Environmental Sciences Schools of Civil Engineering & Geosciences and, Chemical Engineering & Advanced Materials. Thesis: Bioelectricity production from organic compounds using Microbial Fuel Cells.

2007 – 2009 Postgraduate Certificate in Advance Studies in Academic Practice Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences.

2005 – 2006 MSc in Environmental Engineering courses School of Civil Engineering & Geosciences

1999 – 2003 BEng in Chemical Engineering School of Chemical Sciences. Dissertation: Sequential and continuous industrial process simulation and control (Univ. of South Florida, USA).

Professional memberships

Since 2009 Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

Since 2007 Affiliate Member of the Royal Society of Chemistry

Since 2005 Member of the International Water association

2006-2009 Member of Society of Chemical Industry

Esteem Indicators

September 2011 - Spotlight award given by the School of Chemical Engineering and Advanced Materials

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.

Marc, 2009 - Nominated to the Newcastle student achievement award in the environmental impact category.

June, 2009 – present. Invited research article reviewer for: Bioresource & Technology; Microbiology & Biotechnology; Fuels; Journal of Chemical Engineering

 April 2008 – Awarded best conference poster in the 9th UK International Water Association Conference for Young Professionals 

Research Funding

2012 - Knowledge Transfer Partnership (£14K) Partnership with Palintest Ltd. to commercialise a biosensor

 Languages  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.

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.

Projects: Collaboration with Palintest Ltd: This project investigates the use of microbial fuel cell (MFC) technology as a biosensor to facilitate the continuous and on-line monitoring of organic matter content in wastewater. Organic matter is a parameter internationally reported in terms of Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD). Analysis of BOD in wastewater helps maintain adequate removal efficiency in treatment works.

Collaboration with Ngee Ann (Singapore): Development of low cost microbial fuel cells to produce energy: This project analyses the application of microbial fuel cells for developing countries. It includes the evaluation of low cost materials, microbiological performance and municipal wastewater treatment.  

To know more about this research visit:

Key article: Factors affecting current production in microbial fuel cells using different industrial wastewaters(2011) Bioresource Technology 102(80)

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.

Projects: Collaboration with UNAM University (Mexico): This project involves the technical, economical and process evaluation of biodiesel production from different single and mixed cultures of microalgae. It analyses the use of waste resources as source of nutrients and the technological application for developing countries.

 To know more about this field of research visit:

Key article: Alkaline in situ transesterification of Chlorella vulgaris (2011) Fuel, in press 

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:



2015 Experimental Design (CME2026, BEng/MEng in Chemical Engineering) 100%, 5credits

2014 Transfer Processes 2 (CME2022, BEng/MEng in Chemical Engineering) 50%, 20credits

2011, 2012, 2014 Biomass and Waste Technology (SPG8008, MSc in REFLEX) 15%, 10credits

2012 & 2014 Process Economics (CME 3032, BEng/MEng Chemical Engineering) 23%, 15credits

2012 & 2014 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.