Professional Contributions

Contributions to Research and Training

1. Most Significant Contribution to research

A) Hydrothermal conversion of agri-biomass and wastes:  Higher moisture and alkali contents in agricultural biomass and organic wastes limit their conversion into higher-quality materials. My last Discovery Grant resulted in breaking new ground in hydrothermal (HTC) research. We gained new insights into how alkali metal can be removed from agricultural biomass (J82, J96). In series of articles (J5, J24, J25, J27, J28, J32, J39, J52, J77, J82) we showed hydrochar exhibits exciting properties relating to higher solid yields, a better product quality (calorific value, ash composition, tunable surface functionalities, presence of natural binders, conductive behavior. We showed that HTC is more energy efficient compared to conventional carbonization processes for wet biomass when a continuous reactor is used (J28, J49, J54). Our work on the development of a semi-continuous (J40) reactor paved the path for scaling up the system. We have developed a continuous 50 kg/hr pilot scale HTC reactor by solving a long-lasting problem of feeding biomass against pressure.   

B: Closed Loop HTC based approach:  In series of works, we laid the foundation by explaining how can we integrate HTC with anaerobic digestion (AD) to produce biocarbon, biomethane and biofertilizer from agricultural residue such as corn residue/stovers (J49, J55, J68, J74, J77, J80, J15). An overall energy yield of 78.65% from biocarbon and biomethane, and a nutrient recovery of 32% nitrogen, 23% phosphorus, 26% potassium, and 19% sulfur are achieved using this approach. As a result of these works, we piqued the interest of agricultural industries, e.g., REMASCO, AMCO Produce, Shrimp Canada, IGPC Ethanol, Custom Steam Solutions to contribute partnership support that enabled us to secure grants from AAFC Biomass Canada and OMAFRA. We are currently using this funding to perform a study to develop energy efficient circular economy-based greenhouse operations. 

C. Tunable approaches of producing high value materials:  Using a tunable approach MacDermid-Watts  ( in his Master's thesis (2020) (J22, J25, J31) demonstrates the production of superior quality activated carbons, with increased graphitization, increased hetero-atom doping, and more developed porosity. We support this claim in a two-step experimental process that integrates HTC with pyrolysis and activation processes. We discovered previously undocumented effects of the catalyst during HTC, specifically the leaching of nitrogen out of the biomass as catalyst concentration increased. Further to this research, T Abhi ( in his Master's thesis (2020) (J24) developed a novel integrated HTC with slow pyrolysis pathway to produce biocarbon for iron and steel industries from high ash, high alkali, wet, low-value bio-wastes. This work is very important for Canadian steel production, which is a major GHG emissions source. Because of the special dual roles of carbon (iron ore reduction and heating) in steelmaking processes, the only technically feasible approach to reduce GHG emissions from the blast furnace ironmaking process is by introducing renewable biocarbon into the process through partial substitution of fossil carbon. Because of the nature of agricultural biomass, the inherent alkaline and phosphorus contents of biocarbon are usually appreciably higher than acceptable or tolerable levels for steelmaking. As a result, currently available solid biocarbon products from agricultural biocarbon are not suitable for replacing metallurgical coal in steel production processes. We found the recipe for producing biocarbon that has a lower ash and alkali contents than that of PCI coal currently used in iron and steel industries. This important work is a potential solution for switching fuel (PCI coal) in blast furnaces and EAF processes to improve its energy and/or emission profiles. This work was very intriguing and received immediate interest, support and funding from Industry such as ArcelorMittal Dofasco Inc, federal research institute i.e. Metallurgical Fuels Laboratory (MFL), CanmetENERGY-Ottawa, and funding agency Best in Science program of MOECC and OMAFRA_UOG research program to tests our produced biocarbon in the simulated test rig.

D) CaO based calcium looping gasification (CLG) of biomass with in-process carbon dioxide capture: Following our pioneering work [Energy Fuels, 23, 10, 5077–5083, 2009], that first time demonstrated the concept of CaO based CLG of biomass with in process CO2 capture in a 5 KW pilot unit, in (J43) we showed that hydrogen content in syngas can be up to 78 vol.% and CO2 as low as 3 vol.%. Related to this, we developed a new CO2 sorbent material from the eggshell, a waste resource (J43). This work is significant as we showed how hydrogen can be produced from a combination of waste materials (this paper was the cover article for Energy & Fuels Journal in 2019). In (J16), we examined the utilization of CO2 as an oxidizer in gasification and showed how H2/CO molar ratio was dependent on the introduction of CO2 as a gasification agent. Based on the experimental work, we developed the kinetics for the calcination and carbonation reactions [J57]. Such works have formed the nucleus for forging several international collaborations.  

E) Chemical conversion of other waste materials:  In a series of works (J39, J53, J83) we developed a novel oxidative method using a green solvent at room temperature to produce carbon from a toxic by-product that originated from recycling neutral sulphite semi-chemical spent liquor (black liquor). Our method reduced ash content from 23% to 1% with a 73% increase in heating value from 15 MJ/kg to over 26MJ/kg.  We started a new research program on consumer plastic wastes conversion by acquiring a PY-GCMS-FID system to synthesize, characterize, and study the thermal degradation of plastics at multiple temperatures, to identify and quantify the multiple products streams obtained from one feed. This is very important as past studies focused on single temperature pyrolysis, which can be limiting. Because plastics contain large molecules, the reactions that take place during their thermal decomposition are many, and the possible products are also limitless as in crude oil.  Our review on thermal and catalytic pyrolysis of plastic solid waste (J87) has shaped researchers thinking.  According to Web of science (accessed on Oct 14, 2020) it is the 5th ranked highly cited article out of 5074 (with in top 0.1%) published by the journal since 2017.  Since our analysis that identified the parameters that affect the products yield and selectivity,  and synthesized the influence of different catalysts on the process were presented in J87, we were invited by George Hubber (The Harvey Spangler Professor of Chemical Engineering at the University of Wisconsin- Madison.) and Robert Brown of Iowa State University (Anson Marston Distinguished Professor and Gary and Donna Hoover Chair) as the sole Canadian co-investigator for an US DOE joint initiative on Multi-University Center on Chemical Upcycling of Waste Plastics, which was funded in July 2020.


2. Additional Information on Contributions

For the last 6 years I have had 7 book chapters, 98 peer reviewed papers, 50 refereed conference papers, 47 presentations (25 were invited presentations, of which 5 were keynotes; part of the expenses for invited presentations has been covered by the host), 1 patent filed, 11 technical reports. Currently 8 papers are under review.

  • My role in publications listed in the CCV and those explained in the major contribution section has been mainly to generate the ideas, data analysis, student supervision, and writing papers. I truly believe in a collaborative effort in research; as such, I have actively worked with other scientists at the institutional, national, and international levels. As such, I have been the corresponding author of the majority (~73%) of 98 co-authored papers listed in CCV. Majority of my papers have been published in high quality journals with IF from ~2-14. Journals I choose for our papers are based on the importance of the work, its suitability to the journal and the target audience. Order of authorship has been such that main student author is always the first name, main investigator as the last as corresponding author, and others in the order of contribution are between the first and the last author.
  • I collaborate with Universities, Research Institutes, and Industries in China, Kuwait, UK, France, Italy, USA, and Australia. The nature of collaboration is to exchange specialized skills and knowledge, provide mutual access to each other’s resources/equipment, and expand the scope and scale of research efforts and problem-solving capacity. Through those collaborations, I have published papers and/or working or completed/submitted projects with them.
  • I work highly collaboratively within UofG and other universities in Canada (Dalhousie, Western, Saskatchewan, McGill), ministries (OMAFRA, AAFC, MOECC) and industries (Custom Steam Solution, AAMD, `Continental Carbon, REMASCO, IGPC ethanol). For example, ArcelorMittal Dofasco through NRC and Continental Carbon Group are in the process of testing our produced biocarbon generated from high ash agri-food residues for their applications.
  • Nominated for CAGS Award for Outstanding Graduate Mentorship by the College of Engineering and Physical Science (CEPS) of University of Guelph, winner of CEPS Excellence in Graduate Supervision Awards. Distinguished Foreign Professor award at the Zhengzhou University in China for three years. Over 10 featured articles, interviews and news items are published from the research lab since 2014, for both popular and technical readers. Communicating positively with the public is an important goal. Recent examples include CGTN, CBC, Global News.
  • Member of the NSERC Materials and Chemical Eng. Evaluation Group (EG 1511), 2016-2018, NFRF 2019, OMAFRA.
  • I have organized the 8th WasteEng 2021 conference at Guelph and have been on the organizing committee for multiple other conferences


3. Past Contributions to Highly Qualified Personnel (HQP) Training

Training Environment: Bio-Renewable Innovation Lab (BRIL) of Guelph offers a unique training environment for HQP. This includes state-of-the-art laboratory space and infrastructure such as continuous high-pressure reactor, PY-GCMS with FID, dual fluidized bed calcium looping gasifier, centralized analytical facilities, and support of dedicated staff. I recognize that a diverse group benefits and enriches the work. I strive to recruit individuals who will further enhance our diversity and will support their academic and professional success while they are here. I am always committed to removing barriers that have been historically encountered with recruitment and advancement of female students in engineering. Over the past 6 years I have been involved in the supervision and co-supervision of a large research team made up by 77 HQP out of which, 41 graduate students (9 in progress, 32 graduated,) and 16 postdocs, Research Associates, Visiting Scholars (6 of which in progress) from all over the world, as well as 12 undergraduate students.

I work collaboratively with students, combining my technical knowledge and experience with their creativity. I expect each student to play an active role in developing their own work and this is effective when there is open communication. I meet weekly with most students (some variance depending on the stage of the student). In addition, my lab group meets biweekly to discuss the latest scientific developments in our field, work on leadership skills, while providing an open and inclusive platform to express their views, collaborate, mentor, and learn from each other. This also provides them with an opportunity to fit their research in the broader scientific picture.

HQP awards and research contributions: My students contribute both as first authors or coauthors in the production of significant, high quality, publications in high IF periodicals, conferences proceedings and conferences in international and national forum. In the last 6 years, HQPs led 98 high impact journal papers out of 90 and are the first author in CCV, 50 conference papers, 8 book chapters, and secured many prestigious scholarships, fellowships and awards. A number of awards come from scholarships in Ontario and Canada (i.e. 6 OMAFRA_HQP (Salaudeen, Norouzi, Garnaik, Safari, Fatima, Kambo), 1 OTS (Heidari), 5 OGS (Dahal, Arku, Rabai, Fatima, Tushar), 1 MITACS (Norouzi), and 1 NSERC-PGSD (Arku)), B. Regmi (Best project, Soy Plus), T. Abhi (A&WMA,  Student Award) and a few from International Government body (3 from Ministry of higher education  and scientific research of Iraq).

Outcomes and skill gained by HQP: In the last 6 years, I have trained (supervised and/or co-supervised) a total of 77 (66+11) HQPs including 12 (12+0) UGs, 13 (10+3) MSc non-thesis, 15 (13+2) MSc, 19 (13+6) PhD, 9 (9+0) postdocs, and 9 (9+0) RA. I am the sole advisor for most of the HQP from my program. Currently my research team is composed of 18 HQPs of which 6 are PhDs, 4 MAScs, 4 PDFs, 3 RAs and 1 UG.  Additionally, I have served as a research advisory committee member for 30 MSc and PhDs, comprehensive examination committee of 23 PhDs, and PhD thesis external examiner for 16 students in various universities around the globe.

The skills gained in my lab both scientific and professional, has allowed HQP to secure jobs in academia and private industry in Canada or internationally. While many went on to complete higher studies (2 to PhD, 6 to MSc), many HQPs secured jobs in academia, including former MSc and PhD student B. Acharya is now Assoc. Prof. and Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture Endowed Chair in Bioprocess Engineering at U. Saskatchewan; recent PhD S. Salaudeen is hired as an Asst. Prof. at McMaster University, former PDF Y.Y Shao is now Assoc. Prof. Tianjin, China; former PhD and PDF M.H Tushar is now Assoc. Prof. at RUET, Bangladesh); former NSERC PDF S.H. Tasnim  is now Asst. Prof. U. Guelph; former PDF Y. Zhang is now Assist. Prof. at Zhengzhou, China; (former PhD student M Al Jethelah (is now Assist. Prof at Tikrit, Iraq; industry (21), and research organization (5). Two recent PhDs O. Norouzi and M. Heidari are recruited as an R&D Specialist at Anerigia, and Energy Project Leads at the City of Mississauga, respectively. The skills gained by HQPs in my research program are at the forefront and they excel in their job. 

A few examples of recent HQPs who move to industry after completion of MASc are Stefan G-Technical Coordinator at RWDI, T Joseph - Senior Project Manager  at Wood, H. Kambo - Sr. Environmental Scientist at ECOH, J Minaret - Project Engineer at Doherty Eng., Garnaik - Safety Manager at WestRock. Majority of projects in the lab are interdisciplinary in nature, i.e. a cross between modeling, simulation, experimentation and statistical analysis, and thermo-fluid science with elements of design. This has provided HQP with unique abilities to tackle complex problems and aided them to land on satisfying positions or go on and conduct impactful work.

A few recent and former HQPs have also placed themselves in very high positions at Government and Multinational Organizations; they are my former MASc and PhD student Dr. Acharya - Director at Nepal Telecom, former MASc student B Regmi-Manager at Nepal Oil Corporation, former MASc T. Bhattacharjee - Energy specialist at World Bank Group, and Former MASc- J Martchamadol - National Expert (Clean Tech Innovation) at United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).

Because of the multidisciplinary nature of the research, combined with the direct exposure to industrial partners and government interactions, outstanding technical support and research facilities, networking at the national and international level, and opportunities to enhance presentation and writing skills through periodic meetings and participation at international conferences, HQP leaving my research team have a wide array of typical as well as rare qualities.


Development of Network in Asia, Europe, Africa and South America:

Since 1998, Dr. Dutta have been involved with a number of international and regional research projects, practically in Asia. He was the project leader of bio-energy group of an interdisciplinary research program on Climate Change, funded by Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida). In this project more than 40 institutes from 10 countries in South and South East Asia were involved. The impact was so significant that he was awarded with a project on Development of an E-learning course on bio-energy for achieving MDGs in Asia funded by UNESCO (, which was telecasted in Japan, Indonesia, Myanmar, Cambodia, Bangladesh and Thailand on a real-time basis. As part of the project, he has also created an extensive network with Swedish institutes e.g. KTH, Chalmers, and Linkoping. His involvement with another project on “Transferring sustainable energy technologies to developing countries through the clean development mechanism” (, involved 10 institutions from 8 countries namely The Netherlands, England, Greece, Israel, Chile, Kenya, China and Thailand has given him the opportunity to develop an excellent network across the World. 

Prestigious invited lectures and keynote addresses

  • Invited speaker: Processing of Agricultural Biomass for Combustion Energy to Meet End-User Needs on Torrefaction and other pre-processing technologies at Biomass Technology Forum on, Organized by OMAFRA, April 14, 2011
  • “Sustainable Energy Production”, Intensive Program on Sustainability (IPoS-3), sponsored by University of Tokyo, AIT in collaboration with MIT and Chalmers University, August 2006. 28 graduate students from 18 countries of multidisciplinary background from MIT (USA), Chalmers (Sweden), Tokyo University (Japan) and AIT (Thailand) had attended this program.
  • “Clean coal technology: a case for India”, Meeting on Clean Coal-Gen/Alternative Energy Tech-The Next Stage, organized by IBC ASIA (S) PTE LTD, 21-22 November 2005. 20 participants from 13 countries from Asia and Europe were attended this meeting.
  • “Sustainable Energy for Rural Development” Regional Workshop on the Integration of Energy and Rural Development Policies and Programmes, sponsored by UNESCAP, September 2005. 50 participants from 20 countries across the world were attended this workshop.
  • A series of lecture on Bio-energy for achieving MDGs in Asia Organized by UNESCO. Course materials with real-time presentations are available at
  • Session Chair: “Greater Mekong Sub region Academic and Research Network” Dec 12-14, 2007

Conference, traning course and workshop Organizations:

  • Organizing a professional development course on Biomass Torrefaction at OMAFRA, Guelph on August 16, 2011 as the Convener. So far 40 participants from Private Industry, Academia, Renewable Energy Investor Group, Government Agency, Policy Maker, Aggregators, Biomass fuel supply groups have registered with fees for this professional development course.
  • Coordinator of E-learning course “Bio-energy for achieving MDGs in Asia” Organized by UNESCO. Course materials available at
  • Coordinator, “Working Conference on Promotion of Biofuels for Sustainable Development in South and South-East Asia”, March 30, 2007, Thailand (60+ Participants from 10 countries).
  • Technical Program Organizer, “International Conference on Energy for Sustainable Development: Issues and Prospects for Asia,” March 1-3, 2006, Phuket, Thailand. (120+ participants from 30 Countries).
  • Organizing Committee, “Workshops on Energy for Sustainable Development and Climate Change”, January 2007, Thailand (30 Policy level participants from 14 countries)
  • Coordinator, “Promotion of Biofuels in South and South East Asia”, Thailand, April 28, 2007.
  • Coordinator, “Int. Workshop on Operation and Maintenance in Fluidized Bed Boilers”, May 27-28, 2005, Halifax, NS, Canada