Chemical Engineering


Dr Maria Sotenko BSc, MSc, PhD in Chemical Engineering, AFHEA

Photo of Dr Maria Sotenko


Maria graduated in Chemistry from Novosibirsk State University, Russian Federation, in 2006. As a student, Maria investigated Pt-containing catalysts for car exhausts afterburning and the mechanism of methanol synthesis from syngas during her BSc and MSc projects carried out at Boreskov Institute of Catalysis (BIC), one of the biggest scientific institutes in Russia. During her PhD, received in 2010, Maria had a chance to work at two different universities, Bath University and Warwick University, while working on an inter-disciplinary project called “Bi-catalytic conversion of glycerol to value-added products”. In 2012, after a career break, Maria undertook a short postdoctoral position at Bath University developing continuous C-H functionalization of arenes using Pd/Fe3O4 magnetic nanoparticles in a microreactor. This was followed by a 3 years postdoctoral position at Warwick Manufacturing Group, Warwick University, where Maria worked on a project called “Cleaning Land for Wealth” (CL4W) which combined expertise in plant science, biotechnology, engineering and catalysis. In 2016 Maria took up a role of University Teacher at the Department of Chemical Engineering, Loughborough University.

Current teaching responsibilties:

Maria is involved in various teaching activities, such as lectures development and delivery, supervision of tutorials, workshops and seminars, laboratories development and supervision, Turnitin assessment, BSc and MSc project students supervision. Maria contributes to teaching of the following modules:

  • CGA001 Fluid Mechanics Tutorials
  • CGA002 Stagewise processes
  • CGA004 Chemical Engineering Labs (STEM labs)
  • CGA008 Thermodynamics I
  • CGB001 Process Design and Safety Tutorials
  • CGB014 Instrumentation and Control Labs
  • CGB012 Mass Transfer & Separations Labs
  • CGC037/044 Literature Review
  • CGD062/CGP062 Downstream Processing




Outline of main research interests:

Graduated initially as a chemist and with a strong background in heterogeneous catalysis, Maria is interested in developing bio-catalytic processes for the production of useful chemicals and products where environmental and economic benefits are gained by using enzymes, bacteria or fungi along with cheap feedstocks, biphasic medium, multistep processing or unique engineering design. Thus, Maria has developed a combined, cost and time-effective process of glycerol transformation to esters of 1,3-propanediol using a hollow fibre membrane reactor. Maria also worked on CL4W project which aimed at turning Pt, Ni and As, recovered from contaminated land, into useful catalysts via a complex process of phytoremediation, fungal biomass degradation and bacterial catalysis. Maria’s main research interests are the following:

  • Wealth out of waste: turning waste feedstocks into a range of value-added products
  • Biorefinery processes development, biomass to fuels, energy and valuable products
  • Cleaning soil and waste waters from metals, phytoremediation-biorefinery tandem
  • Antioxidant and antimicrobial chemical compounds from biomass feedstocks
  • Biogenic catalytic metallic nano-particles, novel applications of bio-catalysts

Grants and contracts:

  • Oct 2015 – £10,000 travel grant, Warwick-Monash seed fund, Warwick University (bilateral visits and a series of seminars between the Universities to foster collaborative work on biorefinery).
  • Jan 2015 – £10,000 event grant, Institute of Advanced Studies Vacation School Grant Scheme, Warwick University (organisation of a summer school “Sustainable Development of Materials, Processes and Fuels” for internal and external PhD students and early career researchers). 

Recent publications:

  • M. Sotenko, S. Coles, G. Barker, L. Song, Y. Jiang, P. Longhurst, T. Romanova, O. Shuvaeva, K. Kirwan, Phytoremediation combined with biorefinery on the example of two agricultural crops grown on Ni soil and degraded by P. chrysosporium, International Journal of Phytoremediation (2017), 19, 11, p.965-975
  • M. Sotenko, J. Fernández, G. Hu, V. Derevschikov, A. Lysikov, E. Parkhomchuk, V. Semeykina, A. Okunev, E. V. Rebrov, Performance of novel CaO-based sorbents in high temperature CO2 capture under RF heating, Chemical Engineering and Processing: Process Intensification (2017), in press.

Selected publications:

  • Prasad, M. Sotenko, T. Blenkinsopp and S. R. Coles, Life Cycle Assessment of Lignocellulosic Biomass Pretreatment Methods in Biofuel Production (2016), The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, 21, 1, p. 44-50.
  • M. Sotenko, M. Rebros, V.S. Sans, K.N. Loponov, M.G. Davidson, G. Stephens, A.A. Lapkin (2012), Tandem transformation of glycerol to esters, Journal of Biotechnology,162, p. 390-397.
  • M. Sotenko, S. Coles, I. McEwen, R. DeCampos, G. Barker, K. Kirwan, Bio-degradation as natural fibres pre-treatment in composites manufacturing (2016), Journal of Green Materials, 4, 1, p. 8-17.

View central admin publications database.

External collaborators:

Maria has been actively collaborating with various industrial partners, providing consultancy support to ones and developing research projects with others. Maria currently actively engages in projects with Stoli Catalysts ltd, a spin out company from University of Warwick which develops and manufactures catalyst-coated tube reactors for fine chemicals synthesis. Other industrial partners and collaborators are:

  • Unifi Inc
  • Woodforce (part of Sonae ltd.)
  • Bath, Cranfield, Nottingham, Warwick, Manchester Universities
  • Rusnano Corporation, Russian Federation
  • Monash University, Australia
  • Novosibirsk State University, Russian Federation Russia

External roles and appointments:

  • Honorary Fellow, Warwick University
  • External Supervisor and Examiner at Warwick Manufacturing Group, Warwick University
  • Reviewer for Journal of Polymers and the Environment