Dr Oluwasola (Sola) Afolabi

BEng (Hons) MSc (Dist) PhD CEng C.WEM MCIWEM FHEA

Pronouns: He/him
  • RAEng Engineering for Development Research Fellow
  • Senior Lecturer in Water & Environmental Engineering
  • University International Special Envoy to Sub-Saharan Africa

Research and expertise

I am a Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor) in Water & Environmental Engineering. My research interests are waste-to-energy processes, agri-food & biogenic waste management & resource recovery, renewable bioenergy, water quality research, wastewater engineering, and WASH. Others include innovation research, development and technology transfer, particularly in low- and middle-income countries settings. I welcome enquiries from prospective PhD students.

Current research activity

  • Principal Investigator, Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng) Engineering for Development Research Fellowship – Advanced Technological Synergy for Renewable Energy Production in sub-Saharan Africa: 2019 – 2024

Recently completed research projects

  • Blue Fuel - Waste to Energy, Nepal
  • BMGF - Reinvent the Toilet Phase 3 - Field testing in Asia and Africa
  • BMGF  - Reinvent the Toilet Phase 2 - Prototype design and pilot scale testing
  • Environmental Agency, UK - Radionuclides behaviour during sewage treatment

Current PhD research activities 

  • Toilet plume bioaerosol in healthcare and hospitality settings 
  • Value recovery from hot-pot food waste 
  • Hydrothermal carbonisation of mixed Agri-food Waste for enhanced bioenergy application
  • Application of high-performance numerical modelling for the transportation of urban sediment
  • Advanced analytical protocols for the characterisation of microplastics in wastewater streams

Recent publications

  • Afolabi, O.O.D., Sohail, M. and Thomas, C.L.P., 2015. Microwave hydrothermal carbonisation of human biowaste. Waste and Biomass Valorization, 6 (2), 147 – 157.
  • Afolabi, O.O.D., and Sohail, M. 2017. Microwaving human faecal sludge as a viable sanitation technology option for treatment and value Recovery. Journal of Environmental Management, 187, 401- 415. 
  • Afolabi, O.O.D., and Sohail, M. 2017. Comparative assessment of conventional and microwave hydrothermal carbonisation of human biowaste. Water Science & Technology, 75(5), 2852 – 2863. 
  • Afolabi, O.O.D., Sohail, M. and Thomas, C.L.P., 2017. Characterization of solid fuel chars recovered from microwave hydrothermal carbonisation of human biowaste, Energy, 134, 74-89.
  • Sohail, M., Cavill, S. and Afolabi, O.O.D., 2017. Transformative technologies for safely managed sanitation. Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers - Municipal Engineer, 171 (2), 78-85.
  • Afolabi, O.O.D., Sohail, M., Cheng, Y-L, 2020. Optimisation and characterisation of hydrochar production from spent coffee grounds by hydrothermal carbonisation. Renewable Energy, 147 (1), 1380 – 1391
  • Afolabi, O.O.D., Leonard, S. A., Osei, E.N., Blay, K.B., 2021. Country-level assessment of agri-food waste and enabling environment for sustainable utilisation for bioenergy in Nigeria. Journal of Environmental Management, 294, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvman.2021.112929


I contribute to the School’s UG and PG (campus-based and DL - WEDC) teaching and learning activities including:


  • CVA 101: Profession Practise module
  • Industrial Placement (DIS)
  • Supervision of UG research dissertations


  • Appropriate Sewerage and Sewage Treatment
  • Urban Sanitation Management
  • Household and Communal Sanitation Engineering
  • Environmental Assessment (Module Leader)
  • Urban Infrastructure
  • UG & PG Research Dissertations 


Short courses 

  • Water, hygiene and sanitation for health’: Biannual 2-week training course for Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) (i.e. Doctors without Borders)


I obtained a First-Class (Hons.) B.Eng. in Agricultural (now Agricultural and Environmental) Engineering from the Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA), Nigeria, in 2008. Subsequently, I completed my MSc with Distinction (2011) and PhD (2015) at Loughborough University, UK.

Since joining Loughborough University in 2010, I have worked on several research and development projects, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) Re-invent (Phase 2 and 3) Toilet Challenge Project. I am leading a prestigious Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng) Engineering for Development Research Fellowship, awarded in 2019 on “Advanced Technological Synergy to Renewable Energy Production in sub-Saharan Africa”. 

I lead/contribute to campus-based and distance learning postgraduate taught modules. In addition, I supervise doctoral researchers, postgraduate and undergraduate research dissertations. I also serve on several school-level and university-level committees, including the School’s Research and the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Committees.  

Professional affiliations/certifications 

  • Chartered Engineer, Engineering Council, UK
  • Chartered Member, Chartered Institute of Waste and Environmental Management (CIWEM)
  • Fellow, the Advance Higher Education (FHEA)
  • PRINCE2 Practitioner Certificate in Project Management 
  • MSP Practitioner Certificate in Programme Management


  • Research Fellowship Award, 2019
  • PTDF, International Doctoral Scholarship, 2014 
  • Young Researchers’ Award, RSC Travel Grant, 2012
  • Best Presentation (Oral & Poster), COGER International Conference, UK, 2012
  • Doctoral Research Studentship, Loughborough University, UK, 2011
  • DFID/Commonwealth Shared Scholarship UK, 2010 
  • Four University Prize Awards, 2008 including: Best Graduating Student, Department of Agricultural Engineering, and School of Engineering & Engineering Technology; Federal University of Technology, Akure, Nigeria

External activities

  • Member, Chartered Institute of Waste and Environmental Management (CIWEM) Qualifications Panel (2022 – present)
  • 2020, PhD External examination: University of Bath, UK 
  • Expert technical reviewer: UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Future Leaders Fellowships (FLF) proposals; RAEng Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation Awards, The Royal Society the Future Leaders – African Independent Research (FLAIR) grant scheme
  • Conference committee member: WEDC International conference (2018 - present)
  • Expert reviewer for several esteemed international journals in my field, including Environmental Management, Applied Energy, Utility Policy, Energy, Energy & Fuels

Key collaborators/stakeholders

  • UNEP
  • RAEng
  • BMGF
  • International universities: UCAD (Senegal), Makerere University (Uganda), ABU (Nigeria), Toronto (Canada), CQU (China)
  • Consultants: Alvan Blanch, LEAP Micro AD (UK), Berkeley Air (USA). 
  • Government agencies: Environment Agency (UK), PNB-SN (Senegal), SMWCOL (Trinidad & Tobago)