School of Engineering

Staff Profile

Dr Eileen Yu

Senior Lecturer



Dr Eileen Hao Yu is a Lecturer in the School of Chemical Engineering and Advanced Materials at Newcastle University. Her PhD study worked on the development of direct methanol alkaline fuel cells, which was considered a pioneering study in the area. After her PhD, she worked as a research fellow at Max Planck Institute for Dynamics of Complex Technical Systems, Germany, before returned to Newcastle to take a prestigious EPSRC Research Fellowship (Life Science Interface) in 2006.

Dr Yu’s current research focuses on novel bioelectronics including biosensors; enzymatic biofuel cells and microbial fuel cells. She is a part of EPSRC Supergen Biological fuel cell consortium. She also involves in the research on alkaline polymer membrane fuel cells.


PhD (Chemical Engineering, Newcastle, 2003)

Research Interests

§ Fuel cells and Biological fuel cells,

§ Biosensors for healthcare devices, biocompatible materials

§ Protein modification, functionalisation and immobilisation

§ Electrochemical and bioelectrochemical catalysis

§ Fuel cell configuration and design

§ Waste treatment and remediation


Research Funding

2006-2009 EPSRC Research Fellowship (Life Science Interface), Grant EP/C535456/1, Development of biofuel cells for implantable devices

Project leader: Eileen Yu

2005-2009   EU Marie Curie Transfer of Knowledge Networks on Biological Fuel Cells,

Project leader: Keith Scott

2010-2014     EPSRC Supergen Biological Fuel Cells,

Project leader: Fraser Armstrong (Oxford), Keith Scott

2011-2012    EPSRC Knowledge Transfer Awards: Development of electrochemical based NEFA biosensors for diabetes management

Project leader: Eileen Yu

2011-2012 EPSRC KTA: Next generation immunoassay with magnetic nanoparticles

Project leader: Eileen Yu


Previous Positions

2005-2006 Research Fellow
Max Planck Institute for Dynamics of Complex Technical Systems, Magdeburg, Germany

2004-2005 Senior Research Scientist
School of Chemical Engineering and Advanced Materials,
University of Newcastle upon Tyne and NewChem Technologies Ltd.




Honours and Awards

1st Prize in the Connections and Creativity competition, Challenge Engineering 2006, EPSRC


Enzymatic Biofuel Cells for Implantable Medical Devices

This project is sponsored by EPSRC. The aim of this project is to research and develop a biofuel cell system which provides power for implantable electrically operated devices, and obtain further understanding on enzymatic electrochemical reactions for glucose oxidation and oxygen reduction.

Biofuel cells offer specific advantages over other renewable energy conversion methods. These advantages are particularly attractive in the medical field where the developments in medical science leads to an increasing number of implantable devices, which need miniaturised, implantable and low-power sources to support their operation. Apart from this, biofuel cells have potential applications also on miniaturised electronic devices and environmental applications (such as wastewater treatment). To achieve an efficient power system, research will be carried out on bioelectrocatalysis, transport processes and system integration.

 Microbial Fuel Cells

Microbial Fuel Cells (MFC’s) represent an emerging technology that could eventually become an important renewable energy source. Power in a microbial fuel cell is generated when bacteria donate electrons to an insoluble anode, these electrons travel through an external circuit, and then go onto reduce oxygen at a cathode, producing water. The circuit is completed by the migration of protons from the anode to the cathode through a proton exchange membrane. MFC’s are being developed for the treatment of domestic wastewater, as BOD biosensors, as power sources for remote devices, and for bioremediation applications.

An important limitation with respect to MFC development is in the use of precious metal catalysts, such as Pt, for oxygen reduction at the cathode. Biocathodes are a suitable alternative to these abiotic catalysts as they are both cheap and sustainable. Through microbial metabolism, they work by oxidising spent mediators or directly accepting electrons from plain electrodes. My own research is currently focused on the use of Manganese Oxidising Bacteria and Iron Oxidising Bacteria for MFC biocathodes.

Poor kinetics of oxygen reduction at neutral pH and low temperatures hinder the improvement of MFC performance. Research has been carried out intensively on MFC anodes, but MFC cathode catalysts have not been as thoroughly studied. Pt is the most commonly used catalyst on the cathode, but its high cost prohibits its use for commercial MFC applications. Further development and commercialization of MFC make it essential that we have a better understanding of the performance of non-Pt cathode catalysts. Alternatives to Pt for oxygen reduction under conditions of neutral pH media have not been well explored. We therefore conducted electrochemical half cell studies, and the performance of MFCs with various non-Pt catalysts for oxygen reduction. It is shown that MFC power output was improved with non-Pt cathodes compared to that achieved with a commercially available Pt catalyst.


Electrochemical biosensor for Non-estified fatty acid (NEFA)

With an increase in people being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes (T2D), there is a high demand in biosensors that can monitor not only the blood glucose levels but also the other biomarkers associated with T2D. The metabolism biomarkers are essential in understanding the cause of diabetes at the early stage. Diets rich in saturated fats cause obesity and insulin resistance, and increase levels of circulating NEFAs. Assessment of NEFA may be a useful addition to routine diabetes management. NEFA, like glucose can reflect acute change of an individual’s energy status. Glucose and NEFA are biomarkers of immediate energy metabolism.

The specific research interest of this project is to develop an electrochemical biosensor that will detect changes in blood NEFA concentrations for patients with T2D, for the future development of personalised intervention programmes for the treatment and management of the disease.  

 Nanomaterials for Bioelectronic Sensors

The use of bioelectronics, especially biosensors, has played a major role in transmitting physical events into direct signals that represents what happens when a material is under investigation. For biosensor results to be accurate, reliable and also for its commercial viability, their sensitivity and transducing property needs to be improved. This also determines their applications in biomedical, environmental, pharmaceutical and quality control purposes. This research aims to develop gold based nanoparticles for improving the sensitivity and stability of biosensors and for biomedical applications such as drug delivery, tissue repair, hyperthermia and magnetic resonance imaging.

Eileen Yu's profile can be viewed at Google Scholar


Undergraduate Teaching


        CME1025 Principle of Chemical Engineering: Mass and Energy Balance; Basic Communication Skills

        CME2021 Safety & Engineering Practice: Heat Exchange Networks;

                        Lab Practice

        CME2025 Chemistry: Interface Chemistry


Postgraduate Teaching

         CME8044 Fuel Cell Systems

         CME8002 Sustainable Process

         SPG8007 Renewable Energy: Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology