Research interests

Sandra Esteves is a Professor in Bioprocess Technology for Resource Recovery (Energy and Materials) and is currently the Director for Wales Centre of Excellence for Anaerobic Digestion based at the University of South Wales in the United Kingdom with over 20 years of experience in biotechnology research, development and full scale industrial deployment. She read her PhD in 2002 from the University of Glamorgan (now the University of South Wales) on the control of biotechnology process using artificial intelligence techniques and was subsequently granted a Portuguese PhD equivalence by Universidade Nova de Lisboa in 2003. Sandra earned a first class BSc (hons) degree in Energy & Environmental Technology from the University of Glamorgan in 1996.

Sandra has successfully secured, led and sustained a large number of collaborative R&D projects with over £9M of external funding from a wide range of sources including EU Funding routes, the UK Research Councils, the UK Government funding bodies, the Welsh Government (WG), and direct industrial income from key companies such as TATA Steel, Wales & West Utilities, Welsh Water, Thames Water, Severn Trent, Veolia and ARUP. Sandra established the Wales Centre of Excellence for Anaerobic Digestion ( in 2008 which since its inception had supported over 200 companies including SMEs and continues to provide R&D support to the UK Anaerobic Digestion industry, policy developers and regulators. Professor Sandra Esteves is an advisor to the UK Renewable Energy Association (REA) and the Anaerobic Digestion and BioResources Association, and represents the UK at the European Biogas Association's (EBA) Scientific Advisory Council. Professor Sandra’s research outputs include £9M of external funding, over 70 scientific publications with a h-index of 17, 2 patents, 5 trademarks, a book and a book chapter as well as 5 scientific reports. She has successfully supervised 7 PhD graduates, mentored 13 post-doctoral fellows and is currently supervising 8 PhD students. She is a recognised expert in her field and contributes significantly towards the scientific as well as policy development, knowledge transfer and commercialisation developments related to anaerobic biotechnology. Sandra has developed an active network of collaborations across the UK, Europe and internationally including USA, Japan and Malaysia. In addition to R&D and industrial engagement Sandra has also contributed to course development including on-line content, teaching and assessment. Sandra launched the MSc Renewable Energy and Resource Management at USW ( in 2005 which for over 10 years has been a very successful postgraduate course. She still teaches modules such as “Solids Resource Management”, “Waste and Wastewater Treatment Processes”, “Anaerobic Treatment Processes” and “Energy, Environmental Policy and Legislation”, and since 2005 directed/co-supervised over 60 MSc thesis. 

Sandra’s research has focused in the areas of waste and wastewater treatment and recovery, in particular organics and C1 gases (CO2, CO and CH4) bioprocess conversions design, monitoring, modelling and control, the development of novel anaerobic and aerobic processes, sensor development, microbial ecology, profiling and enrichment and the evaluation of metabolic performance of microbial cultures for the production of energy gases, chemicals and biopolymers. Work has also included feedstocks, fermentates and digestates characterisation as well as pre and post processing, nutrient recovery (N &P), power to gas (the use of stranded renewable electricity to convert to energy gases or chemicals) for renewable energy storage and biological biogas/syngas upgrading technology development, carboxylic acids and polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) production and biotech related life cycle analysis and economics benchmarking.

Current interests extend to a wide remit namely the integration of anaerobic bioprocesses in biorefining as well as with a number of other industrial processes and energy systems. Sandra is currently working on new industrial biotech concepts as well as on their scale up and is currently leading the business plan for a spin out company for the commercialisation of technology related to biogas upgrading and renewable energy storage.

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