Module code: ENGM215

Module Overview

The module explores different technologies for processing biomass as renewable energy resource contributing to security in energy supply and reducing the environmental impact of the energy systems.  

Module provider

Chemical and Process Engineering

Module Leader


Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 7

JACs code: H831

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Indicative content includes:

1. Introduction: Roles of biomass in the provision of energy, chemicals, and materials; types of biomasses; main biorefinery products; general aspects of developing/evaluating biomass processing systems.

2. Biorefinery: conceptions, process integration, integration with conventional refining facilities, product options: value vs. volume and economics.

3. Framework for evaluating biomass processing systems: Principles and methods for evaluating detailed economics including equipment sizing and costing, mass and energy flow analysis, energy consumption, and greenhouse gas emission.

4. Biomass resource and biorefinery provisions: Lignocellulose types and valorisation: agricultural, forestry, energy crops; Waste types and valorisation: municipal solid waste, organic waste, oily wastes and residues, wastewaters; Pretreatment: supercritical steam explosion, organosolv, ionic liquids, hydrolysis, microwave irraditation, ultrasonication; Municipal solid waste: sorting and recycling using material recovery facilities (MRF), and mechanical biological treatment (MBT) and mechanical biological chemical treatment (MBCT) system configurations.

5. Bio/chemical conversion:

3.1 Fermentation: biochemistries, processes, equipment of systems producing bioethanol and other products, economic analysis.

3.2 Transesterification: chemistry, process, equipment of systems producing biodiesel and other products.

3.3 Production of biogas and bio-hydrogen: a brief introduction.

6. Thermochemical conversion

4.1 Combustion – equipment, applications, environmental issues.

4.2 Pyrolysis – feedstock options, slow and fast processes, physical and chemical mechanisms, equipment, product compositions and properties.

4.3 Gasification – feedstock options, physical and chemical mechanisms, equipment, operating conditions.

4.4 Hydroprocessing – feedstock and refinery integration options, physical and chemical mechanisms, process intensification, operating conditions.

4.5 Catalytic processing, controlled acid hydrolysis – physical and chemical processing, waste valorisation and integration, process flowsheet development and simulation.

7. Synthetic fuel production: Fischer-Tropsch synthesis and methanol: chemistry, processes, products, equipment.

8. Bio-based chemicals and materials and their manufacturing routes: commodity and platform chemicals, high-value molecules, polymers, economic and environmental feasibility analysis.

9. Microalgae: cultivation, downstream processing, functions of microalgae-based systems.

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework COURSEWORK 40

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate

Learning outcomes 1-5 on the unseen written examination
Learning outcomes 1, 5 on Coursework

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

Unseen written examination, 60%
Coursework, 40%. Design and techno-economic analysis of lignocellulosic integrated biorefinery system co-producing bioethanol and electricity – process modelling, mass and energy flow analyses, equipment sizing and costing, comprehensive economic analysis and environmental feasibility analysis.

Formative assessment and feedback

The students will receive feedback on their learning, in-class tutorial, problems and coursework.

Module aims

  • Provide the students an in-depth understanding of the processes and technologies for production of energy, chemical, and material products based on biomass processing.

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Identify, analyse, and select the processes and technologies for producing the main types of biofuels, namely bioethanol and biodiesel. KCT
002 Identify, analyse, and select the processes and equipment for pyrolysis, gasification, and the synthesis of liquid fuels. KCT
003 Identify the key opportunities for biomass-based manufacturing of chemicals and materials. K
004 Explain and analyse the concept of biorefinery and the possible integrations with conventional refineries. KC
005 Apply the principles and skills for conducting energy, economic, and environmental evaluation of biomass processing technologies CP

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Overall student workload

Independent Study Hours: 117

Lecture Hours: 27

Laboratory Hours: 6

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to:

Present up to date technologies for biomass processing combined with problem solving sessions giving opportunity for group work and discussion. The topic will be addressed on process level by calculating the key parameters for specific biomass conversion technologies and in a wider context by identifying a network associated with a biorefinery enabling maximal utilisation of regional biomass potential.

The learning and teaching methods include:

3 hours combined lectures/problem solving sessions per week x 11 weeks 

Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list


Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Batteries, Fuel Cells and Energy Storage Systems MSc 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Chemical Engineering MEng 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Information and Process Systems Engineering MSc 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Petroleum Refining Systems Engineering MSc 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Renewable Energy Systems Engineering MSc 2 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Process Systems Engineering MSc 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Chemical and Petroleum Engineering MEng 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2020/1 academic year.