Joe Wood


Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

Joe Wood’s research activities cover fundamental catalyst design, through formulation and catalyst manufacture to operational issues and reactor design. His group aims to optimise reactor type, design and operating conditions to get the best performance and product selectivity in a particular reaction. Professor Wood’s group welcomes applications from prospective doctoral researchers on topics such as:

Upgrading of heavy oils
Development of adsorbents for carbon dioxide capture
Testing of bionanocatalysts
Catalysis for sustainable technologies
Modelling of carbon capture at power plants
Upgrading of bio-oils and associated model compounds
Chemical recycling of polymers and membrane separation


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Personal profile

Research interests

Catalysis and chemical reaction engineering lie at the core of many chemical and biochemical processes. Research activities cover the fundamental catalyst design, through formulation and catalyst manufacture, to operational issues and reactor design.  The group aims to optimize reactor type, design and operating conditions to get the best performance and product selectivity in a particular reaction.  Application areas have recently concentrated on energy, including upgrading of heavy oils and bitumen from the Canadian oilsands, capture of carbon dioxide from power station flue gases, upgrading of bio-oil and related model compounds and recycling of renewable polymers.  Funded research projects currently active within the group include:

A Scalable Process for the Chemical Recycling of PET using Ionic Organocatalysts (EPSRC):  This project aims to address the current drawbacks of existing  Polyethylene Terephthalate  (PET) polymer recycling methods by developing a scalable, continuous process for its depolymerisation.  In particular, to study the effect of polymer additives and food contaminants in real wastes upon the depolymerisation, to understand how the catalyst/process can be made resilient to these issues, and develop strategies for efficient product separation.  We are collaborating with the group of Prof. Andrew Dove at Chemistry, University of Birmingham.

CDT Geo Net Zero:  The Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) entitled GeoNetZero is a new program of PhD research and training set up to address key areas in Geoscience and their role in the Low Carbon Energy Transition and Challenge of Net Zero.  We are part of the programme led by Heriot Watt University.

EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Carbon Capture and Storage and Cleaner Fossil Energy (EPSRC, led by Prof. Colin Snape, University of Nottingham):  The strategic vision  is to develop a world-leading Centre for Industrial Doctoral Training in carbon capture and clean energy, focussed on delivering research leaders and next-generation innovators.

Recently Completed Projects:

Novel Membrane Catalytic Reactor for Waste Polylactic Acid Recycling and Valorisation (EPSRC) with University of Bath

Electromagnetically-assisted Catalytic-upgrading of Heavy Oil (ECHO) (EPSRC) with University of Nottingham

Reaction-Separation Engineering for the Production of Bio-based Chemicals (UK Catalysis Hub) with University of Bath



Joe Wood qualified with a BEng degree in Chemical Engineering with Environmental Protection from Loughborough University in 1995. He worked at Albright and Wilson in Whitehaven from 1995-97 as a Graduate Chemical Engineer. He then studied for a PhD at the University of Cambridge, with thesis topic Transport and Reaction in Porous Catalysts under the supervision of Professor Lynn Gladden, which was awarded in 2001. Since 2001 he has worked at the University of Birmingham as Lecturer (2001-2008), Senior Lecturer (2008-2010), Reader (2010-2012) and Professor (2012-Present).

Professor Wood held a Junior Research Fellowship at Hughes Hall Cambridge from 1998-2000 and an Exxon Mobil Teaching Fellowship from 2004-2007.

Professor Wood’s research focuses on the application of catalysis and reactor engineering to solve problems of energy supply, environmental concerns and to deliver chemical products in a more sustainable way.

He teaches on Chemical Engineering programmes in the School, is Examinations Officer and IChemE Liaison Officer.


  • Postgraduate Certificate in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, University of Birmingham, 2003
  • CEng, MIChemE, Institution of Chemical Engineers, 2002, FIChemE 2018.
  • PhD in Chemical Engineering, University of Cambridge, 2001
  • BEng in Chemical Engineering with Environmental Protection, University of Loughborough, 1995
  • Diploma in Industrial Studies, Loughborough University, 1995

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy
  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 14 - Life Below Water


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