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.


Mechanism investigation on the formation of olefins and paraffin from the thermochemical catalytic conversion of triglycerides catalyzed by alkali metal catalysts
Long Feng, Zhang Xiaolei, Cao Xincheng, Zhai Qiaolong, Song Yaoguang, Wang Fei, Jiang Jianchun, Xu Junming
Fuel Processing Technology Vol 200 (2019)
Performance of biochar as a catalyst for tar steam reforming : effect of the porous structure
Buentello-Montoya David, Zhang Xiaolei, Li Jun, Ranade Vivek, Marques Simão, Geron Marco
Applied Energy (2019)
Density functional study on the thermal stabilities of phenolic bio-oil compounds
Shaw Alexander, Zhang Xiaolei
Fuel Vol 255 (2019)
Hydrogen donation of bio-acids over transition metal facets : a density functional theory study
Zhang Jiajun, Zhang Xiaolei, Osatiashtiani Amin, Bridgwater Anthony
Applied Catalysis A: General Vol 586 (2019)
An energy and exergy analysis of biomass gasification integrated with a char-catalytic tar reforming system
Buentello-Montoya David, Zhang Xiaolei
Energy and Fuels Vol 33, pp. 8746-8757 (2019)
The use of gasification solid products as catalysts for tar reforming
Buentello-Montoya DA, Zhang X, Li J
Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews Vol 107, pp. 399-412 (2019)

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.


From atoms to plant: co-production of green transport fuel and levoglucosan from waste biomass (First Grant) (Transfer)
Zhang, Xiaolei (Principal Investigator)
01-Jan-2019 - 31-Jan-2020
From atoms to plant: co-production of renewable diesel and levoglucosan from waste biomass
Zhang, Xiaolei (Principal Investigator)
04-Jan-2019 - 01-Jan-2020
Atomic-level investigation on developing optimal pathways for liquid biofuels
Zhang, Xiaolei (Principal Investigator)
25-Jan-2017 - 20-Jan-2020

more projects


Chemical and Process Engineering
James Weir Building

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