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Colin Snape

Director of Energy Technologies Research Institute, Faculty of Engineering

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Biography

Current Position: Director of the EngD Centre in Efficient Power from Fossil Energy and Carbon Capture Technologies

Director of Midlands Energy Graduate School

Employment History: Research Chemist, Coal Research Establishment, British Coal (formally the National Coal Board), 1974- 1987

University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Department of Pure & Applied Chemistry, 1987- 2000, Lecturer in Applied Chemistry and Chemical Technology 1987, promoted to Senior Lecturer in 1990, then to a Reader in 1993 and to Professor in 1995.

University of Nottingham, 2000-2014, as a Professor in Chemical Technology.

Research Highlights

  • 280 peer-reviewed publications in journals and books.
  • 40 PhD students graduated.
  • Current grant portfolio in excess of £10M.
  • Commercialised the analytical pyrolysis technique, hydropyrolysis and current IP covers adsorbents for CO2 and Hg capture and microwave pyrolysis.
  • Elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (FRSE) in 2000
  • Holder of 2000 Peter Given Lectureship in Coal Science, Penn State University, USA; winner of the R.A. Glenn prize on two occasions for best paper presented in Div. of Fuel Chemistry programme at Am. Chem. Soc. Meetings.
  • Winner of the 2006 Henry Storch award administered by the American Chemical Society, Div. of Fuel Chemistry for lifelong achievement in fuel science, only the third time that someone from outside the US has won this prize.
  • Visiting Professor for Distinguished International Scientists, Chinese Academy of Sciences, appointed 2013.
  • 2013 BCURA/BF2RA Robens Coal Science lecturer.

Expertise Summary

Prof. Colin Snape (FRSE) has been involved in fuel science and related disciplines for over 30 years having started working at the Coal Research Establishment (CRE) of British Coal (formally the National Coal Board) in 1974 and, as part of the liquefaction programme. In the early 1980s, my interests expanded to include the investigation of hydropyrolysis (hypy) as a route for direct coal liquefaction. After moving to the University of Strathclyde in 1987, an extensive research programme in fuel science encompassing my long-standing interests in coal characterisation, organic geochemistry and conversion, together with newer interests in cracking and hydroprocessing catalysis, petroleum residues, oil shale and biomass pyrolysis, sulfur speciation and polymer degradation was established.

On moving in 2000, I was instrumental in establishing Nottingham as an internationally recognized centre for fossil energy, the multi-disciplinary research portfolio encompasses carbon technology, applied geochemistry and pollutant source apportionment as major themes. My current research programme encompasses novel adsorbents for CO2 capture both in combustion and gasification and developing high capacity Hg adsorbents while continuing the research on hypy linked to compound specific stable isotope measurements and source apportionment relevant to this proposal, together with investigating high pressure retardation effects on oil and gas generation. Patents have been filed on both Hg and CO2 adsorbents.

Teaching Summary

I have contributed to the Chemical Engineering course at Nottingham by developing and delivering basic chemistry (first year) and thermodynamics (chemical & phase equilibria) modules. I have… read more

Research Summary

My current research programme encompasses novel adsorbents for CO2 capture both in combustion and gasification and developing high capacity Hg adsorbents while continuing the research on… read more

I have contributed to the Chemical Engineering course at Nottingham by developing and delivering basic chemistry (first year) and thermodynamics (chemical & phase equilibria) modules. I have supervised many M.Sc research projects. Further, I developed the M.Res programme in petroleum engineering which ran from 2006 until the programme was broadened to cover chemical and environmental engineering, more generally.

I was responsible for putting together the multi-disciplinary training programme in the Engineering Doctorate. As part of the Midlands Energy Graduate School, my recent focus has been on developing M.Sc programmes in energy that provide a flexible course structure that will be of appeal to industry and stakeholders and also to the international market by combining the breadth of content offered by the three universities.

Current Research

My current research programme encompasses novel adsorbents for CO2 capture both in combustion and gasification and developing high capacity Hg adsorbents while continuing the research on hydropyrolysis in oil exploration, coking phenomena and heavy oil conversion. I am working with colleagues on aspects of biomass co-firing in combustion and using thin sections of coal as a source of high-resolution climatic data. The discovery of new adsorbents for CO2 capture has led to a major programme on CO2 capture technologies including 3 contracts from the DTI (Cleaner coal technology programme: nos. 406 and 408; Carbon abatement technology programme: no. CAT0602) and a contract from the EU contract, coordinated by Snape with 9 partners (RFCR-CT-2006-00003 1.5m€). Collaborators include E.ON, RWE, Elcogas, Doosan Babcock and an adsorbent producer, Mast Carbon. Overall, since 2000, I have coordinated 4 EU RFCS projects covering carbonisation, PAHs and CO2 separation. Consultancies have included work for BG, Investec Bank, CPL Industries.

I am currently the director of the EPSRC EngD Centre in "Efficient Power from Fossil Energy and Carbon Capture Technologies" which currently involves a team of over 15 academics and 20 companies. Nottingham, along with Leeds, Imperial and Edinburgh is considered to be one of the 4 UK leading groups. Of the ca. £40M EPSRC portfolio in CCS, Nottingham currently accounts for ca. £11M support, including £6.75M for the EngD Centre. The EngD Centre was recognised as being world class in the recent RCUK Energy review. In addition, environmental research on black carbon and particulates from coal burning in China has received wide acclaim, in terms of high impact journal papers. Global links include the National Engineering Research Institute in India, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Southeast, Tsinghai and Zhejiang Universities through our current EPSRC-China grants and India networks.

My research on hydropyrolysis has gained global recognition. The novelty of hydropyrolysis lies in the fact that my collaborators and I are responsible solely for the development of the technique for analysing covalently bound biomarkers. Worldwide, no other researchers have attempted to use or take on the development of the technique for geochemical studies. The ability of hydropyrolysis to facilitate compound specific isotope measurements on steroids as a new means to detect doping led to a prestigious award from the World Anti Doping Agency (contract no: 06C15MS;) to develop the concept further. A NERC Follow-On award was highlighted as an exemplar of knowledge transfer in the 2007 NERC Annual Report (http://www.nerc.ac.uk/publications/annualreport/2007/science_for_society.pdf). An exclusive license was granted to Strata Technologies Ltd manufacture to sell hydropyrolysis units and this was recognised with winning The Engineer 2008 Business Support of Universities Awar, 8 units haveing been sold to date in the USA, China and Australia. Also, take up by industry includes characterisation of bitumens (Statoil; Advanced Geochemical Systems) and pipeline deposits (Nalco). As well as hydropyrolysis, my research on PAHs was also instrumental in winning the 2006 Storch Award and led directly to a new EU contract (RFCR-CT-2005-00005 €1.4m, coordinated by Snape). Evidence of the impact of the source apportionment methodology is its take up by international organisations, including Oak Ridge National Lab. to investigate PAH formation in tobacco smoke.

Past Research

Professor Snape worked at the Coal Research Establishment of British Coal (formally the National Coal Board) from 1974 to 1987 on many aspects concerning the characterisation, geochemistry and utilisation of coals and their derivatives. His principal research interests were (i) the development of spectroscopic and chromatographic methods for coals and coal products and (ii) new process concepts for coal pyrolysis and liquefaction. Colin was particularly active in the application of new NMR methods and was the first to realise the benefits of spectral editing and two-dimensional techniques. He obtained patents on hydropyrolysis that helped to establish this liquefaction route as a viable alternative to hydrogen-donor solvent liquefaction. Before leaving British Coal in 1987, Colin had over 40 publications and, through his research on NMR and coal structure, geochemistry and liquefaction, had already gained international recognition having been asked to give plenary lectures on these topics. Since moving to the University of Strathclyde in October 1987 as a Lecturer in Applied Chemistry, he has secured well in excess of £2.5m in external research funding from the EU with the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), EPSRC and other sources including the US Dept. of Energy. In addition, British Gas, BP, Esso and Babcock have supported CASE students.

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