Research project

HEIF 2023/24 Are ‘sustainable fuels’ truly sustainable?

Project overview

This project will deploy multi-isotope (C, H, Ni, Pb, Nd, Sr) techniques and molecular and trace element analyses to determine the origin(s) of carbon atoms in specific fuels and whether carbon comes from fossil or atmospheric origins (DAC, biofuels) or are co-processed mixtures. To achieve this, we will work in close collaboration with external partners (Shell, Lloyds Register, 44.01) to analyse the chemical make-up of various SAFs and SMFs.

The project is sub-divided into two interlinked work packages that will run simultaneously. WP1 will develop new protocols to characterise the hydrocarbons in each sample using state-of-the-art two-dimensional gas chromatography (Co-I Langley, PI Inglis). WP2 will explore whether stable isotopes (e.g,. carbon isotopes; PI Inglis), trace metal isotopes (e.g., nickel, lead, strontium, and neodymium; Co-I Foster, Teagle), and theoretical and/or laboratory-informed predictions (co-I Raja, co-I Zhang) can further differentiate SAFs.


Lead researcher

Dr Gordon Inglis PhD

Principal Research Fellow
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Other researchers

Professor John Langley

Professorial Fellow-Enterprise

Research interests

  • The application of separation science and mass spectrometry as a routine tool for chemistry/chemical biology/oilfield chemistry;
  • Probing new areas for research using these tools;
  • The application of hyphenated approaches (GC-MS, GCxGC-MS, HPLC-MS & SFC-MS).
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Professor Gavin Foster

Professor of Isotope Geochemistry
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Professor Damon Teagle

Director of SMMI

Research interests

  • • Formation and evolution of the ocean crust
  • • Fluid-rock interactions and Ore mineralisation
  • • Geochemical analysis
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Dr Yue Zhang

Associate Professor

Research interests

  • Anaerobic digestion (AD) for organic waste management and renewable energy production, especially optimisation of digestion process e.g. via selective trace element supplementation, and manipulation of microbially-mediated pathways methanogenesis
  • Mixed-culture fermentation for bio-based chemical production with integration of downstream recovery processes, especially on selective carboxylic acid production from protein-rich wastes
  • CO2 biomethanisation, especially in-situ hydrogen addition new project to be created
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Professor Robert Raja

Prof of Materials Chemistry & Catalysis

Research interests

  • Heterogeneous Catalysis
  • Sustainable Chemistry
  • Carbon Capture Storage and Utilisation
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Collaborating research institutes, centres and groups

Research outputs