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.


NiCu anchored on a specific TiO2 face tunes electron density for selective hydrogenation of fatty acids into alkanes or alcohols
Long Feng, Cao Xincheng, Jiang Xia, Liu Peng, Jiang JianChun, Zhang Xiaolei, Xu Junming
ACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering Vol 10, pp. 7349-7361 (2022)
Evaluation of the effects and interactions of initial chlorine and sulphur contents on the release of potassium compounds during biomass combustion
Cao Wenhan, Li Jun, Zhang Xiaolei
Journal of the Energy Institute Vol 101, pp. 178-186 (2022)
Optimisation of logistic model using geographic information systems : a case study of biomass-based combined heat & power generation in China
Zhang Jixiang, Zhang Xiaolei, Rentizelas Athanasios, Dong Changqing, Li Jun
Applications in Energy and Combustion Science Vol 10 (2022)
Pyrolysis kinetic modeling of a poly(ethylene-co-vinyl acetate) encapsulant found in waste photovoltaic modules
Farrell Charlie, Osman Ahmed I, Harrison John, Vennard Ashlene, Murphy Adrian, Doherty Rory, Russell Mark, Kumaravel Vignesh, Al-Muhtaseb Ala'a H, Zhang Xiaolei, Abu-Dahrieh Jehad K, Rooney David W
Industrial and Engineering Chemistry Research Vol 60, pp. 13492-13504 (2021)
Development of a carbon-based catalyst for syngas reforming to maximise hydrogen production
Mukamwi M, Somorin T, Li J, Zhang X
28th Annual SCI-CSCST Conference (2021)
Waste carica papaya oil seed extraction : a potential feed stock for biodiesel production to achieve net zero
Asuquo Asuquo, Li Jun, Zhang Xiaolei
28th Annual SCI-CSCST Conference (2021)

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


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
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
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 - 14-Jan-2020
Atomic Level investigation on developing optimal pathways for liquid biofuels (Transfer from QUB)
Zhang, Xiaolei (Principal Investigator)
01-Jan-2019 - 30-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
PhD Project | Designing novel systems for clean, sustainable heat production from biomass
Li, Jun (Principal Investigator) Zhang, Xiaolei (Co-investigator) Rentizelas, Athanasios (Co-investigator) ZHANG, Jixiang (Research Co-investigator)
Externally Funded PhD Studentship
01-Jan-2018 - 31-Jan-2022

More projects


Chemical and Process Engineering
James Weir Building

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