PhD Research Student Irina Harun Photo


Office 149, Roderick Hill Building, Imperial College London South Kensington Campus

Department of Chemical Engineering



2015 - present

PhD Research Student, REaCT group, Imperial College London

2013 - 2015

Researcher (Emission & Waste Management), TNB Research Malaysia

2010 - 2012

MSc in Chemical Engineering, National University of Malaysia

2005 - 2009

BEng in Biochemical Engineering, National University of Malaysia


Clean energy supplies for the future is now one of the most daunting challenges of the modern day scientists, with the objective of maintaining global stability, economic prosperity and quality of life (Parmar et al. 2011). To this effect, research on biofuel is more than just identifying the right biomass for maximum biofuel conversion, but must also find environmental-friendly and added-value uses for the by-products of biofuel production. In this respect, CO2 biological fixation offers an exciting avenue for an environmentally sustainable technology. In this process, CO2 is converted into biomass by autotrophs, whilst both nutrient uptake and biomass production is achieved sustainably (Zeng et al. 2011).

Photoautotrophs such as cyanobacteria and algae employ photosynthesis to generate biomass, and are capable of producing different feed stocks for energy generation such as hydrogen, lipids for biodiesel and jet fuel production, hydrocarbons and isoprenoids for gasoline production, carbohydrate for ethanol production and methane for syngas production (Bahadar & Bilal Khan 2013; Dechatiwongse et al. 2014; Melis 2012; Sakthivel et al. 2011). In this respect, cyanobacteria and microalgae are the only organisms known so far that are capable of oxygenic photosynthesis and hydrogen production (Parmar et al. 2011). Beyond that, the biomass generated could also produce a diverse array of chemical intermediates, food source and high value biomolecules such as antioxidant, coloring agents, pharmaceuticals and other bioactive compounds. Production of these high value by-products, coupled with carbon capture and biofuels production have made cyanobacterial- and algal-based biorefinery an exciting platform to be explored and further developed.

Advantages offered by these interesting microorganism provide the basis of my PhD project where investigations of biofuel production is conducted in order to elucidate the relationship between the biological mechanism of biofuel synthesis and environmental parameters for the process. I am also interested in designing a product recovery process which could simplify the product separation stage which has been a major cost barrier for the commercialisation of microalgal-based biofuels production technology.

Awards and Honours

Best Paper Award at ICCSE 2013 Conference International Conference on Chemical Science and Engineering 2013
Excellent Thesis Award at UKM Convocation 2013 National University of Malaysia (UKM)
Yayasan Khazanah Scholarship (2010 – 2012) Yayasan Khazanah, Malaysia
Shell Scholarship Award (2005 – 2009) Shell Malaysia


  1. Irina Harun, Liyana Yahya, Muhammad Nazry Chik, Nur Nadia Abdul Kadir & Mohd Asyraf Mohd Azmir Pang. 2014. Effects of natural light dilution on microalgae growth. International Journal of Chemical Engineering and Applications 5(2): 112-116.
  2. Irina Harun, Jamaliah Md. Jahim, Nurina Anuar & Osman Hassan. 2012. Hydrogen production performance by Enterobacter cloacae KBH3 isolated from termite guts. International Journal of Hydrogen Energy 37(2012): 15052-15061.