Chemical Engineering


Professor Eileen Yu

Photo of Professor Eileen Yu

Professor of Electrochemical Engineering


Eileen Yu joined Loughborough in 2020. She holds a Chair of Electrochemical Engineering in the Department of Chemical Engineering. She obtained PhD from Newcastle University under supervision of Prof. Keith Scott with the study on the development of direct methanol alkaline fuel cells, which was one of the first studies in the area. After her PhD, she worked as a research fellow at Max Planck Institute for Dynamics of Complex Technical Systems, Germany, before returned to Newcastle to take a prestigious EPSRC Research Fellowship (Life Science Interface) in 2006.

This fellowship enabled her to extend her research into the biosciences, from which she has developed a multidisciplinary research profile. This gives her the solid ground to further develop her career in the emerging field of bio-electrochemical engineering. She has established her research group with focuses on novel bioelectrochemical systems for healthcare, CO2 utilization, energy and environmental applications. She has extensive international collaborations with leading research groups globally.

She has participated in attracting more than £15m total research funding from UKRI. She was the initiator and Co-PI of £1.2m NERC consortium of Bioelectrochemical systems for resource recovery from wastewater (MeteoRR). She is also currently the PI leading £2m EPSRC funded consortium on multidisciplinary low carbon fuels programme to produce liquid fuels and chemicals from carbon dioxide reduction (LifesCO2R) with combined bio-electrochemical and biological processes, with four other UK universities (Oxford, Surrey, Sheffield, South Wales), and working closely with industrial and international partners.

She is an Editorial member of Fuel Cells (Wiley), Biosensors (MDPI) and ACS , and Associate Editor for Frontiers of Energy Research.


PhD (Chemical Engineering)          

School of Chemical Engineering and Advanced Materials

University of Newcastle upon Tyne

MSc (Environmental Engineering)                                    

Department of Chemical & Environmental Engineering

National University of Singapore

Key awards:

  • 2009    UK-India Young Scientist Networking Conference, Chennai, India, British Council
  • 2006    1st Prize Creative and Connectivity competition, Challenging Engineering, EPSRC
  • 2005    EPSRC Research Fellowship (Life Science Interface)


2020-2021 Open Fund Project for State Key Laboratory of Clean Energy Utilization (China),  with Zhejiang University, Biofuel generation from CO2 by using microbial electrolysis system, PI.

2020-2022 BBSRC PRO-BES / Pioneering Real-time Observations with BioElectrochemical Systems, BB/T008296/1, CoI.

PI: Prof. Ian Head (Newcastle)

2019-2021, BBSRC National Biofilm Innovation Centre Proof of Concept 2, Converting CO2 to high value fuels and chemicals with MES with Shell, PI

2019-2021, EPSRC NECEM Flexible Funding on Multi-carbon products from Electrochemical reduction of CO2 with Shell, PI

2018-2020, BBSRC National Biofilm Innovation Centre Proof of Concept, Treatment of zinc-contaminated slurry in steel production by BioElectrochemical Systems with TaTa Steel, PI

2018-2019, NERC Follow on Funding on BOD sensors for monitoring water quality using Bioelectrochemical Systems, CoI

PI: Prof. Ian Head (Newcastle)     

2018-2020, BBSRC Super follow on funding, TOoLs for BES, CoI

PI: Prof Ian Head (Newcastle)

2017-2021 EPSRC Northern Energy Material Centre (NECEM),  CoI     

A research hub on energy materials with two other Northeast universities in England: Durham University and University of Northumbria

PI: Prof. Ulrich Stimming (Newcastle).

2016-2021 EPSRC Low carbon fuel: Liquid Fuel and bioEnergy Supply from CO2 Reduction (Lifes-CO2R), PI

A project on Multidisciplinary low carbon fuels programme to produce liquid fuels and chemicals from carbon dioxide reduction (LifesCO2R) with combined bio-electrochemical and biological processes, with five UK academic partners including Oxford, Surrey, Manchester, Sheffield and University of South Wales, 

2014-2019 NERC Resource Recovery from Waste: Bioelectrochemical systems for resource recovery (metal and mineral recovery) from wastewater Co-PI.

For this project involving four UK universities, we are investigating the application of microbial electrochemical systems simultaneously treating wastewater and recovering resources, such as metals, minerals and converting carbon dioxide into valuable chemicals and liquid fuels.

  • 13CGC035/052 Reaction Engineering II
  • 20CGPxxx Advanced Process Design and Optimisation

My research interests can be broadly defined into three areas.

Electrochemical, bioelectrochemical systems for:

Energy and Environmental applications

  • Electrocatalysis for CO2 utilisation, fuel oxidation, oxygen reduction and pollutant remediation etc.
  • Wastewater treatment and resource recovery
  • Microbial electrochemical synthesis
  • Environmental sensors
  • Energy harvesting from waste and renewable energy
  • Reactor design and sustainable integrated processes and systems

Biosensor and Bioelectronics for Biomedical Applications

  • Enzymatic fuel cells as power sources for implantable medical devices
  • Electrochemical biosensors for diagnosis (with disease biomarkers), monitoring and management diseases/treatment.

Materials for Electro and Bioelectrochemical systems

  • Catalysts, Membranes & Nanomaterials

Recent publications:

  • Xiang, H., S. Rasul, B. Hou, J. Portoles, P. Cumpson, and E.H. Yu, Copper–Indium Binary Catalyst on a Gas Diffusion Electrode for High-Performance CO2 Electrochemical Reduction with Record CO Production Efficiency. ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, 2020. 12(1): p. 601-608.
  • Xiang, H., H.A. Miller, M. Bellini, H. Christensen, K. Scott, S. Rasul, and E.H. Yu, Production of formate by CO2 electrochemical reduction and its application in energy storage. Sustainable Energy & Fuels, 2020. 4: p. 277-284.
  • Lim, S.S., J.-M. Fontmorin, P. Izadi, W.R. Wan Daud, K. Scott, and E.H. Yu, Impact of applied cell voltage on the performance of a microbial electrolysis cell fully catalysed by microorganisms. International Journal of Hydrogen Energy, 2020. 45(4): p. 2557-2568.
  • Godain, A., M.W.A. Spurr, H.C. Boghani, G.C. Premier, E.H. Yu, and I.M. Head, Detection of 4-Nitrophenol, a Model Toxic Compound, Using Multi-Stage Microbial Fuel Cells. Frontiers in Environmental Science, 2020. 8(5).
  • Gadkari, S., J.-M. Fontmorin, E. Yu, and J. Sadhukhan, Influence of temperature and other system parameters on microbial fuel cell performance: Numerical and experimental investigation. Chemical Engineering Journal, 2020. 388: p. 124176.
  • Spurr, Martin, Yu, Eileen, Scott, Keith and Head, Ian, A microbial fuel cell sensor for unambiguous measurement of organic loading and definitive identification of toxic influents, Environmental Science: Water Research & Technology, 2020. 6(3): p. 612-621.

Selected publications:

  • Şahin, S., T. Wongnate, L. Chuaboon, P. Chaiyen and E. H. Yu (2018), Enzymatic fuel cells with an oxygen resistant variant of Pyranose-2-Oxidase as anode biocatalyst. Biosensors and Bioelectronics, 107:17-25.

This work (first authored by a PhD student) was published in the top journal for biosensors and bioelectronics. This study was a collaboration with partners in Thailand, and demonstrated first Enzymatic fuel cell (EnFCs) using a variant of pyranose-2-oxidase (P2O-T169G) shown to have low activity towards oxygen. With a novel gas-diffusion electrode (GDE) design, power density of 30 uW cm-2 with improved stability was achieved. This opens up the possibility to develop enzymatic fuel cells with simple air-cathode for small electronics with direct conversion of sugars or biomass.

  • Milner, E. M., D. Popescu, T. Curtis, I. M. Head, K. Scott and E. H. Yu (2016). "Microbial fuel cells with highly active aerobic biocathodes." Journal of Power Sources 324: 8-16.

First paper showing a fully biotic Microbial fuel cell with bioanode, and a highly active aerobic biocathode, which showing the promising Microbial fuel cells eliminating chemical catalysts, with robust, self-generating biocatalysts. The community analysis was carried out, and Uncultured Gammaproteobacteria was identified as the dominating species in high-performing aerobic biocathodes, which was uploaded to the Gene library.

  • Burkitt, R., T. R. Whiffen and E. H. Yu (2016). "Iron phthalocyanine and MnOx composite catalysts for microbial fuel cell applications." Applied Catalysis B: Environmental 181: 279-288.

Developed a low cost novel composite catalyst for oxygen reduction in microbial fuel cells. The novelty of this research lies in the synthesis and characterisation of the catalyst. The mechanism of the catalyst and the function of the MnOx composite as an electron donor were discussed, which was not examined before.

  • Yu, E. H., S. Cheng, K. Scott and B. Logan (2007). "Microbial fuel cell performance with non-Pt cathode catalysts." Journal of Power Sources 171(2): 275-281.

This was one of the first publications on using non-Pt catalysts for cathode oxygen reduction reaction in microbial fuel cells. This novel approach significantly reduced the cost for microbial fuel cells leading to better commercial opportunities.

  • Yu, E. H. and K. Scott (2004). "Development of direct methanol alkaline fuel cells using anion exchange membranes." Journal of Power Sources 137(2): 248-256.

This is the pioneer article on alkaline membrane fuel cells and is the basis for current research in this field. It demonstrated the feasibility of using low cost anion exchange membranes, and non precious metal for solid electrolyte fuel cell.

External links

  • Newcastle University
  • Oxford University
  • Sheffield University
  • University of Manchester
  • University of Surrey
  • University of South Wales
  • Northumbria University
  • Liverpool University
  • Brunel University
  • Zhejiang University, China
  • Shell Research Ltd
  • TaTa Steel
  • Chivas Brothers
  • Northumbrian Water

External roles and appointments

  • Committee Member of Society of Chemical Industry (SCI) Electrochemical Engineering working group
  • Visiting Professor, Newcastle University, UK
  • Editorial Board member for Fuel Cells
  • Associate Editor of Frontiers of Energy Research, Nanotechnology for Energy Applications
  • Associate Editor of Frontiers of Chemical Engineering, Sustainable Process Engineering
  • ACS Applied Energy Materials Editorial Advisory Board member