Faculty of Engineering

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Asma Ahmed

Associate Professor in Chemical and Environmental Engineering, Faculty of Engineering



Asma has a PhD in Chemical Engineering from Oklahoma State University (USA) with over 17 years of international post-PhD experience in industry and academia. Her industry experience includes leading a cell culture team in the development of upstream processes for biotherapeutic production at Dr Reddy's Laboratories. During her academic career, Asma worked as Assistant Professor in Chemical Engineering at BITS Pilani, Hyderabad Campus (India) and Senior Lecturer, then Reader in Industrial Biotechnology at Canterbury Christ Church University (CCCU) before moving to the University of Nottingham in 2024.

Asma is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, Member of the Royal Society of Chemistry, and an Associate Member of IChemE.

Expertise Summary

Asma specialises in microbial process development for converting waste streams and resources to value-added products. Her research focuses on two broad areas: (1) Microbial treatment and valorisation of industrial and agricultural waste streams and (2) Generation of sustainable high-value products from spent biomass to promote a circular economy.

Research Summary

Asma's research can be broadly divided into the following themes:

1. Microbial treatment and valorisation of industrial waste streams.

The focus of this theme is on developing microbial processes to treat and extract value from waste streams that have proved to be challenging to treat using conventional processes. These include waste streams from industries such as the fertiliser industry, paper and pulp manufacturing, coal washeries, and mushroom farming.

2. Developing sustainable biomaterials and alternative proteins from fungi

This theme explores the potential of fungal biofilms and pellicles to be developed into sustainable biomaterials and mycoproteins.

3. Microalgal carbon capture and valorisation of spent biomass

The focus of this theme is on using microalgae for CO2 capture, followed by the extraction of high-value products from spent algal biomass.

Asma is a member of the Food, Water, Waste Research Group.

Past Research

Recently complete projects:

  • Biosolubilisation and biomethanation of coal rejects: This project arose from the urgent need for a sustainable solution to treat coal washery wastes, which pose major environmental concerns. In collaboration with Ardee Hi-Tech, a coal beneficiation company, and co-funding from the Biotechnology Industry Partnership Program, Government of India, a novel two-step microbial process capable of converting coal rejects into valuable methane fuel was developed.

  • Biofilm-based treatment of industrial effluents: As part of an international collaboration funded by the Leverhulme Trust, my team developed a lab-scale biofilm-based process for treating wastewater from the paper and pulp industry. Furthermore, through collaboration with a materials science expert at BITS, India, this project has opened exciting avenues for exploring fungal biofilms grown on wastewater as sustainable and biodegradable materials with unique viscoelastic properties.

  • Microalgal carbon capture in mushroom farms with subsequent valorisation of waste streams. This project was a collaboration with two external partners, AlgaeCytes Ltd (an algal biotechnology company) and Margate Mushrooms (a Community Interest Company, CIC). This work arose from the need to control the carbon dioxide levels in mushroom farms, without venting the gas to the atmosphere. A bicarbonate-based microalgal carbon capture system was developed for integration into mushroom farms. Extracts from spent algal biomass and spent mushroom substrate were found to exhibit promising properties for potential application as bio-based cosmetics.

Future Research

Enquiries from potential PhD candidates interested in the following research areas are welcome:

1. Development and characterisation of fungal biofilms grown on waste streams as sustainable biomaterials.

2. Development of an algal-mushroom biorefinery for carbon capture and generation of high-value products from spent biomass.

3. Mycoprotein production from the fungal fermentation of spent biomass.

Information on funding offered by the University and external sources can be found in the following links:




Faculty of Engineering

The University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

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