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  Dr Sharon Valesquez-Orta
BEng (University of South Florida)

MSc (Newcastle University)
Integrated PhD (Newcastle University)


My research involves the evaluation of new environmental technologies that can achieve both energy generation and waste remediation. I am interested in the production of renewable energy from liquid, solid wastes and microalgae by applying bioelectrochemical, chemical and thermal techniques.

Bio-electrochemistry Technology

Microbial Fuel Cells (MFCs) are a type of technology that enables wastewater treatment and electricity generation. MFCs utilise various organic electron donors under anaerobic conditions and directly transform chemical energy into electrical energy via a series of electrochemical reactions. I have studied the effect of different organic wastewaters, novel mediator compounds and organic loading rates on bioelectricity production, organic matter removal and microbial diversity.

Projects: Collaboration with Palintest Ltd: This project investigates the use of microbial fuel cell (MFC) technology as a biosensor to facilitate the continuous and on-line monitoring of organic matter content in wastewater. Organic matter is a parameter internationally reported in terms of Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD). Analysis of BOD in wastewater helps maintain adequate removal efficiency in treatment works.

Collaboration with Ngee Ann (Singapore): Development of low cost microbial fuel cells to produce energy: This project analyses the application of microbial fuel cells for developing countries. It includes the evaluation of low cost materials, microbiological performance and municipal wastewater treatment. 

Key article: Factors affecting current production in microbial fuel cells using different industrial wastewaters (2011) Bioresource Technology 102(80)

Bio-fuel Production

Biofuel can be produced from wastewater sludge and microalgae using chemical (in situ transesterification), thermal (catalytic cracking) or biological processes. These two processes offer several advantages such as the elimination of the oil extraction step, potential improvement on biofuel yield, and reduction in the transportation of intermediate products. In situtransesterification is utilised for biodiesel production while catalytic cracking can produce several types of biofuels such as methane, biodiesel and jet fuel.

Projects: Collaboration with UNAM University (Mexico): This project involves the technical, economical and process evaluation of biodiesel production from different single and mixed cultures of microalgae. It analyses the use of waste resources as source of nutrients and the technological application for developing countries.

Key article: Alkaline in situ transesterification of Chlorella vulgaris (2011) Fuel, in press 

Sustainable Engineering Systems

Collaboration with SECURE (Self Conserving Urban Environments): Life cycle analysis to determine the energy use and carbon emissions produced during the transportation, treatment and final disposal of solid wastes, wastewater produced in the North East of England.

To know more about this research visit:



A full list of publications can be found here.


Contact Details


Tel.: +44 191 208 7278




 Last modified: 04-Aug-2017