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Interdisciplinary Research Centre



Howard Chase joined the Department of Chemical Engineering in 1981 from the Department of Biochemistry at Cambridge where he had undertaken his undergraduate studies in Natural Sciences and his Ph.D. in chemical microbiology.  This, at the time uncommon, discipline-hopping opportunity was made possible by his holding of a research fellowship at St John’s College and was facilitated by the collaboration of two fellows of Fitzwilliam College (Dr David Kerridge of the Biochemistry Department and Dr Nigel Kenny of the Department of Chemical Engineering) with the support of Professor John Davidson, who was Head of Department at that time.  The overall aim was to build up the range of research in biotechnology being carried out in the chemical engineering department, by adding to the activities already being undertaken there by Nigel Slater.  Howard then became a research assistant sponsored by a Science and Engineering Research Council grant awarded to Dr Kenny.   During this period he was awarded a Royal Society 1983 University Research Fellowship but in 1984 he was appointed as an Assistant Lecturer in the Department of Chemical Engineering.  An expectation of this appointment was that he would attend a majority of the undergraduate lectures given by the department in order that he could play a full part in teaching the Chemical Engineering Tripos.  However, the acquisition of a formal qualification in chemical engineering had to await the award of the degree of Doctor of Science in 2001.  Promotion to Lecturer came in 1986, followed by Reader in 1996 and finally he became the Professor of Biochemical Engineering in 2000.  He was elected to Fellowship of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 2005 and is a Fellow of the Institution of Chemical Engineers.

Howard succeeded Professor John Bridgwater as Head of Department in 1998, a post that he held for a total of eight years. This was a busy time for the Department in terms of refurbishment of laboratory space to meet the department’s rapidly expanding research requirements.  During his tenure the following research facilities were constructed in the department: the Cambridge Unit for Bioscience Engineering (CUBE), the Cambridge Unit for Responsive Biopolymers (CURB), the Centre for Research in Electrochemical Science and Technology (CREST) and the laser laboratory together with expansion of research facilities at the Magnetic Resonance Research Centre.  Between the beginning of 2010 and the end of 2013 he served as the Head of the School of Technology (one of the six academic Schools in Cambridge), a post that gave him the responsibility for overseeing the affairs of the constituent departments of that School which also include the Department of Engineering, the Computer Laboratory, the Judge Business School and the Cambridge Programme for Sustainable Leadership.

In a parallel with his departmental and academic activities, he has held a variety of tutorial posts at Magdalene College including its Senior Tutorship from 1993-96, a post he had to relinquish upon appointment as a Reader.  He was elected to a Fellowship of the College in which he undertook his undergraduate and post-graduate studies in 1984.



Initially his research was solely in the area of biochemical engineering focussed on the recovery of a variety of different classes of biomolecules from a variety of different biological sources.  The methods developed many involved exploitation of selective adsorption onto solid phases as a facile and convenient way to purify often complex and fragile molecules from very crude feedstocks.  In particular, he has championed the technique of expanded bed adsorption for a variety of applications.  He also developed a parallel research theme in the area of environmental engineering, originally centred on novel reactors that contained specialised microorganisms capable of treating aqueous wastes by the degrading the toxic or recalcitrant molecules present therein. The Environmental Engineering theme was also extended to non-biological processes concentrating on the application of microwave heating for the treatment of a variety of wastes that cause environment problems.  One such application, the recovery of aluminium and hydrocarbons from aluminium-laminate packaging, has become the business focus of the spin-out company Enval Limited where he is R&D Director.


Key publications: 


Ludlow-Palafox, C and Chase, H. A. Wave goodbye to plastic waste. The Chemical Engineer, March 2001 pp. 28-29.

Ludlow-Palafox, C. & Chase, H.A.  Microwave Induced pyrolysis of plastic wastes.  Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research 40, 4749-4756, (2001).

Ludlow-Palafox, C. & Chase, H.A.  Recycling of plastic wastes using the microwave induced pyrolysis process. In Proceedings of the 6th World Congress of Chemical Engineering, Melbourne Australia, 23-27 September 2001.

Park, C., Lee, C. Kim, S., Chen, Y. & Chase, H.A.  Upgrading of anaerobic digestion by incorporation of two different hydrolysis processes.  Journal of Bioscience and Bioengineering 100(2), 164-167, (2005).

Ludlow-Palafox, C. & Chase, H.A.  Microwave pyrolysis of plastic wastes.  In Feedstock Recycling and Pyrolysis of Waste Plastics (Eds. Schiers, J. and Kaminsky, W. John Wiley & Sons Ltd., 2006) pp. 569-594.

Lam, S.S., Russell, A.D. & Chase, H.A.   Microwave pyrolysis, a novel process for recycling waste automotive engine oil. Energy 35, 2985-2991 (2010).

Lam, S.S., Russell, A.D. & Chase, H.A. Pyrolysis Using Microwave Heating: A Sustainable Process for Recycling Used Car Engine Oil.  Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research (2010) DOI: 10.1021/ie100458f.

Professor of Biochemical Engineering
MANUFACTURING - generation of energy from plastic wastes
Professor Howard Allaker Chase
Not available for consultancy


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