Advanced biofuels: engine testing, technoeconomics and process simulation

Study level


Master of Philosophy

Topic status

We're looking for students to study this topic.


Dr Thomas Rainey
Senior Lecturer
Division / Faculty
Science and Engineering Faculty


QUT's Biofuel Engine Research Facility is Australia’s largest biofuel production testing facility, specialising in engine performance testing and biofuels emissions testing.

Our research involves conversion/upgrading of biomass, such as algae, sugarcane bagasse, or other agricultural fibre into fuels for testing.

Thermochemical processing, such as pyrolysis or thermal liquefaction, is used to make a liquid fuel. However these fuels contain elements/compounds, such as nitrogen in algae or oxygen in biomass, which limit performance in a vehicle engine and/or affect the pollutants in the emissions.

These elements/compounds affect the fuels' physical/chemical properties.

Research activities

The project will contain the following training and activities:

  • Training by coursework in technoeconomics to prepare you for performing financial valuations for the new upgrading strategy.
  • Training by coursework in process simulation modelling (typically Aspen) to prepare you to develop process design.
  • Experimenting for new conversion/upgrading methods.
  • Learning new data analytics methods (e.g. multi-criterion decision analysis).
  • Physical and chemical property testing for fuels using world class instruments.


The aim is for you to develop world leading skills in several of the research activities in the field of thermochemical biofuels.

The scientific objective is to build understanding in the fundamental issues for improving the prospects for thermochemical biofuels. Mitigating the effects of a range of heteroatoms/compounds are important in this scientific field.

For example, exploring the pathway for nitrogen in the supply chain for algae-derived thermochemical biofuels which reduces engine performance and increases NOx while also determining a strategic approach for mitigating its effects.

Skills and experience

For this project, we expect you to have a Masters in Chemical Engineering or Bachelors in Chemical Engineering (domestic students only). Other backgrounds, notably mechanical engineering and industrial engineering, are also highly suitable.

Projects are tailored according to your academic background and expertise.


You may be able to apply for a research scholarship in our annual scholarship round.

Annual scholarship round



Contact the supervisor for more information.