Dr Xiaolei Zhang

Chancellor'S Fellowships

Chemical and Process Engineering

Personal statement

The main stream of my research is solid waste valorization for the production of power, heat, fuel, and chemicals. I work on thermochemical conversion technologies (pyrolysis, gasification, liquefaction, combustion, co-firing), and further upgrading. The final products of interest include fossil compatible fuel (bio-gasoline, bio-diesel), fuel additives (ethanol, methanol, dimethyl ether, oxymethylene ethers), gaseous products (hydrogen, methane) and bio-chemicals (e.g. levoglucosan); to realize low carbon, low cost, and low GHG emission bio-fuel production. The research approaches include Quantum Mechanics modelling based on Density Functional Theory (DFT), Molecular Dynamic modelling, Process Modelling, Thermodynamic and Kinetic experimental investigation and Techno-economic Analysis. I have been awarded research projects from various funding bodies including EPSRC, Leverhulme Trust, and industry.

I received a Ph.D. degree from Royal Institute of Technology-KTH, Stockholm, Sweden, and worked as a Post-doc Research Fellow in University of Alberta, Canada. From January 2015 to June 2019, I worked at Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) as a Lecturer and joined University of Strathclyde in July 2019 as a Senior Lecturer (Chancellor's Fellow) under Strathclyde Global Talent Programme. I am currently on the editorial board of two international journals and I am an academic member of the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), a member of the Energy Institute (EI) and a member of American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE).

I am a Fellow of Higher Education Academy in the UK, and have taught core Engineering courses include Thermodynamics, Fluid Mechanics, and Heat Transfer.


Has expertise in:

    • Quantum Mechanics (QM) modelling based on Density Functional Theory (DFT);
    • Process design and optimization of energy systems;
    • Thermodynamic, Energy and Exergy analysis;
    • Techno-economic analysis, System design.


Hydrogenation of fatty acids to fatty alcohols over Ni3Fe nanoparticles anchored on TiO2 crystal catalyst : metal support interaction and mechanism investigation
Long Feng, Wu Shiyu, Chen Yuwei, Cao Xincheng, Zhao Jiaping, Liu Peng, Jiang Jianchun, Zhang Xiaolei, Xu Junming
Chemical Engineering Journal Vol 464 (2023)
High quantum efficiency of hydrogen production from methanol aqueous solution with PtCu–TiO2 photocatalysts
Wang Hui, Qi Haifeng, Sun Xiao, Jia Shuya, Li Xiyi, Miao Tina Jingyan, Xiong Lunqiao, Wang Shihao, Zhang Xiaolei, Liu Xiaoyan, Wang Aiqin, Zhang Tao, Huang Weixin, Tang Junwang
Nature Materials (2023)
Integrated lignocellulosic biorefinery for efficient production of furans and photothermal materials
Liu Chao, Wang Kui, Zhao Xinpeng, Chen Zhijun, Yin Xiaoyan, Cai Tingting, Zhang Xiaolei, Xu Junming, Hu Jun, Meng Xianzhi, Ragauskas Arthur J, Jiang Jianchun
Chemical Engineering Journal Vol 453 (2023)
Mechanistic investigation of char growth from lignin monomers during biomass utilisation
Shaw Alexander, Zhang Xiaolei, Jia Shuya, Fu Juan, Lang Lin, Brown Robert C
Fuel Processing Technology Vol 239 (2023)
A smart self-balancing biosystem with reversible competitive adsorption of in-situ anion exchange resin for whole-cell catalysis preparation of lignocellulosic xylonic acid
Lv Yang, Zhou Shaonuo, Zhang Xiaolei, Xu Yong
Bioresource Technology Vol 363 (2022)
Nanostructured functionalised niobium oxide as chemoselective catalyst for acetalation of glucose
Kumar Sahil, Saini Kanika, Saravanamurugan Shunmugavel, Zhang Xiaolei, Kansal Sushil Kumar
Topics in Catalysis (2022)

More publications

Research interests

  • Waste valorization for production of fuels and advanced materials;
  • Bioenergy, biofuel, production of high value-added chemicals;
  • Pyrolysis, gasification, combustion, carbonization;
  • Process design and manufacturing of renewable energy systems.

Available PhD projects:

Atomic/molecular insights into the formation of valuable products from waste biomass

System design on co-production of transport fuel and value-added chemicals from waste biomass

Professional activities

28th Annual SCI-CSCST Conference
Bio-SNG production via dual fluidised bed gasification: a modelling approach
External Examiner
Valorisation of Solid Waste to Advanced Fuels and Materials
Invited speaker
Fundamental studies of ethanol oxidation reaction in Direct Ethanol Fuel Cells using density functional theory (DFT) Calculations
External Examiner
Biomass Waste to Advanced Fuels and Materials
27th Annual CSCST-SCI Conference: Sustainable Energy and Manufacturing the Future (Event)

More professional activities


Sustainable plastics for bathroom products
Zhang, Xiaolei (Principal Investigator) Johnston, Karen (Principal Investigator)
01-Jan-2022 - 30-Jan-2022
System integration and module exploration on full valorization of main lignocellulosic constitutes based on self-providing acid pretreatment
Zhang, Xiaolei (Principal Investigator)
31-Jan-2022 - 30-Jan-2024
System Integration and Module Exploration on Full Valorisation of Main Lignocellulosic Constitutes based on Self-providing Acid Pretreatment
Zhang, Xiaolei (Principal Investigator)
Royal Society International Exchanges 2021 Cost Share (NSFC) (IEC\NSFC\211370)
01-Jan-2022 - 01-Jan-2024
Efficient utilization of biochar for water remediation and soil amendment - towards a circular economy
Zhang, Xiaolei (Principal Investigator) Davidson, Christine (Co-investigator) Fletcher, Ashleigh (Co-investigator)
01-Jan-2021 - 30-Jan-2025
Biochar Water Remediation Research Project
Fletcher, Ashleigh (Co-investigator) Zhang, Xiaolei (Principal Investigator) Davidson, Christine (Co-investigator)
01-Jan-2021 - 30-Jan-2021
PhD Project | Developing green heterogeneous catalysts for converting waste papaya oilseed into biodiesel
Li, Jun (Principal Investigator) Zhang, Xiaolei (Co-investigator) Asuquo, Asuquo Jackson (Research Co-investigator)
PTDF PhD Studentship (£120,000)
01-Jan-2020 - 31-Jan-2023

More projects