University of York


York – Green Chemistry Centre of Excellence

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Specific research areas

Natural Solvents

  • Extraction of botanicals for food, beverage and neutraceutical use
  • Extraction of waxes for cosmetic or personal care products
  • Extraction and fractionation of pharmaceutical molecules
  • Synthesis of flavour and aroma molecules using in-situ biocatalysis in non-aqueous media (supercritical CO2)
  • The use of computer models to predict the effects of solvents in chemical reactions
  • The use of bio-derived solvents for conducting important reactions in organic chemistry
  • Synthesis of impregnanted materials for catalytic applications in natural or
    bio-derived solvents
  • Chromatography in supercritical fluids

Clean Synthesis & Platform Molecules

  • Conversion of various forms of waste biomass to platform chemicals (bioPMs)
  • Use of bioPMs to produce higher-value chemicals such as monomers, solvents, pharmaceuticals, lubricants and home and personal additives
  • Development of new catalysts with a specific focus on heterogeneous catalysts with controllable and tunable porosity and surface functionalization
  • Finding alternatives to catalysts that currently require the use of non-abundant elements
  • Adaption of our current catalytic system to flow, thus aiding scale-up and often
    improving process efficiency
  • Development of Clean Synthetic Techniques such as microwaves, ultrasound and alternative solvents thus reducing the environmental impact of various chemical transformations
  • Development of metrics, toolkits and standards for the promotion of sustainable chemicals
  • Conversion of CO2 to value added chemicals
  • Organocatalysis using natural products
  • Development of green solvents to replace traditional polar aprotics and other petrochemically derived solvents

Microwave Chemistry

  • Research on the controlled microwave decomposition of biomass.
  • Optimizing process conditions for the preparation of liquid fuel (intermediate),
    solid fuel and chemical products.
  • Designing associated microwave processing equipment.
  • Proving processes in continuous mode and in production of multi Kgs quantities of products.
  • Producing products and intermediates for testing and further work with industry and in collaboration with external organisations.

Renewable Materials

  • Utilising naturally abundant resources and in particular agricultural and food by-products to develop a range of materials which take full advantage of the chemical composition, rich functionality and structure in plant metabolites and other biomass.
  • Collaborating in and leading major industrial consortia projects to deliver products for a range of industrial applications, such as Starbons® and the TSB Wet Waste collaboration.


  • X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy
  • UV-visible spectroscopy
  • Thermal analysis
  • IR spectroscopy
  • Porosimetry
  • Nuclear magnetic resonance
  • High performance liquid chromatography
  • Gas chromatography
  • HPLC
  • Mass spectrometry
  • Powder and crystal X-ray diffraction
  • Microwave-assisted pyrolysis
  • Pelletiser
  • Macerator
  • Fermenter
  • AFEX
  • Specialist reactors – high pressure reactor, supercritical carbon dioxide reactor, microwave reactor


  • Prof. James Clark, Director
  • Dr Avtar Matharu, Deputy Director
  • Prof. Michael North
  • Dr Duncan Macquarrie
  • Dr Moray Stark
  • Dr Andrew Hunt
  • Dr Vitaly Budarin
  • Dr Thomas Farmer


Contact Details