Yannis has >20 years’ experience in research, teaching and training. His focus is on waste utilisation and energy autonomy and produced the EcoBot family of robots powered by microbial fuel cells (MFCs) fed with organic waste, with the latest achievement being Row-bot. He was an EPSRC Career Acceleration Fellow (2010-2015) and is currently a Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation PI on the "Urine-tricity/PEE POWER®" project, which is advancing the MFC technology for sanitation improvement in Developing World Countries. Yannis is Vice-Chair of the EU COST Action, PHOENIX, looking at environmental remediation using bioelectrochemical systems – a line of work he also led for the EU FET OPEN “Living Architecture” project and its follow-on Innovation Action ALICE, now part of the European Innovation Council. His research income in the past 12 years is >£6M and has published >150 peer reviewed journal articles.
- Environmental Engineering;
- Autonomous Bio-Robotics;
- Microbial Fuel Cells;
- Microbial Biofilms; Ultra-low power electronics
Current research involves environmental engineering, wastewater processing engineering for rural/off-grid communities, microbial fuel cells (MFCs), biofilm systems for biosensing, wearable bio-devices, autonomous bio-robots and ultra-low power bio-electronics. Certain aspects of technology developed in the lab (millilitre scale), such as bioelectrochemical systems (MFCs), have been field tested at appropriate scale (100’s of litres size) and a big part of our research portfolio is to do with system design, configuration and manufacturing scale-up for real world implementation. One example is Pee Power® which has been tested in sub-Saharan Africa and is aimed for improving sanitation and generating energy in non-sewered environments.
I currently teach on CENV6158 – Wastewater Process Engineering, also contributing to FEEG1003 – Thermofluids, whilst being an academic supervisor for individual projects and group design work. I have an interest in enriching our environmental engineering courses with microbiology fundamentals, especially biofilm mechanisms for recycling and electron transfer.
External roles and responsibilities
Yannis has a background in electrical and electronics engineering coupled with communications and digital signal processing. His doctorate work addressed the challenge of autonomous robots with a biological digestion system and produced the EcoBots family of robots, powered by microbes inside Microbial Fuel Cells, fed with table sugar, grass clippings, prawn shells, rotten fruit and dead flies (amongst other substrates). Keeping practical applications as the ultimate objective of any scientific investigation enabled Yannis to address challenges of technological implementation at different scales, in different environments and fed with different feedstock substrates, going from μL wearable devices to 100’s of Litres Pee Power® urinals serving hundreds of users per day.
Yanni’s research aims to address three main questions: (i) what happens when the lights go out and there is no running water; (ii) how can we work better with nature to repair our environment; (iii) how can we develop truly autonomous biosystems that form part of an ecosystem’s carbon cycle?” Our natural environment is replete with examples of biological systems that are very efficient at managing their own energy, disposing of their own waste and nurturing their surrounding environment. As engineers we have a lot to learn from our natural environment and transfer this knowledge in new engineered biosystems for a range of applications and for future generations.
Being Chair in Environmental Engineering at one of the best Engineering Universities, means that Yannis has a unique opportunity to push the boundaries of the technologies being developed even further, pursuing integration with other treatment technologies, such as anaerobic digestion in real wastewater treatment plants, as well as other industry sectors, contributing to the local economy and beyond.