Professor Pat Harvey

Professor Patricia Harvey PhD, SFHEA

Professor Pat Harvey

Professor Patricia J Harvey

Professor of Biochemistry; Head of Bioenergy Research; Director of Biomedical Online Learning

Department of Life & Sports Sciences

Faculty of Engineering and Science


Bioenergy; biorefineries; metabolic pathways of cells; hyperoxidant states and stress responses; lignocellulosic degradation; proteins; fast reaction kinetics of redox enzymes.


A plant biochemist with BSc and PhD degrees from the University of Durham. Thesis title: “Protein of Yam Tubers” (Rockefeller Foundation Scholarship, in conjunction with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture).

Industrial and Academic research career

A post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Durham to purify restriction endonucleases was followed by 2 years at Genzyme Biochemicals in R&D, then in Business Development. She returned to academia to conduct research into the biochemistry of lignin breakdown for 10 years at Imperial College, where fundamental BBSRC- and EU-funded research on lignocellulosic plant biomass degradation and mechanistic studies of the enzyme lignin peroxidase with redox mediators led to a major breakthrough in understanding the mechanism of polymeric lignin breakdown by wood-degrading fungi. This research served as a spring board for research programmes centred on renewable bioenergy at the University of Greenwich (1993-date).

Current research themes embrace the use of algal and non-food plant systems for the capture of CO2; biorefinery production of green chemicals and biofuels; plant and fungal enzyme applications in treating lignocellulosic waste streams; plant oils for biodiesel manufacture; biomass crops from contaminated land; anaerobic digestion and thermochemical treatment of food and agricultural by-products for biomethane production; and Bioenergy Supply Chains. Several of these themes were developed during her at time at the Institute of Advanced Study at Durham University as Biofuels, Science and Society Fellow. They have been taken forward with projects such as:

  • “Capacity-building in South Africa, Namibia and Ghana to create sustainable, non-food bio-oil supply chains (, an EU ACP S&T-funded project that targeted regional and local authorities, municipalities controlling sewage, water, involved in energy procurement programmes; community-based organisations; educational organisations; local authorities; non-governmental organisations; and researchers in Southern Africa (Namibia, South Africa) Western Africa (Ghana) and Europe (Italy, United Kingdom)
  • Ecotec 21, an Interreg-funded project, which is driving the innovation for glycerol-CHP as a sustainable retrofit solution for low carbon power generation, energy efficiency and cultural change, and represents an unusual multi-school collaboration between Architecture; Engineering; Science; Business; Psychology, and Facilities Management
  • Macrobiocrude, an EPSRC-funded project on macroalgae with UK universities;
  • Engineering Micro-algae for Pharmaceutical Production - an ABSIG SPARK (TSB, NERC, BBSRC) –funded project with IOTA Pharmaceuticals;
  • The CO2 Algal Biorefinery - The Microalgae biorefinery (D-Factory), an EU FP7 KBBE funded project with 13 partners from 8 countries.
  • The Kent Biofuels Project which established an integrated process for the production of biodiesel from oilseed rape with 12 partners from bioenergy technology companies, the farming community, and CHP and fuel companies in Kent and saw the creation of an Electricity Supply Company (Cantium Energy), established with a loan from Finance South East to supply midi-scale CHP operated on renewable biofuel;
  • The Zerowise Sustainable Food Waste Solutions Project, which addressed anaerobic digestion technologies for food wastes.

Prof Harvey is also the Director and founder of Biomed Online ( Established in 2002, Biomed Online comprises a successful programme of Master’s level CPD courses delivered to the Healthcare sector.

  • DTI Training Alliance-Energy (2016-)
  • Carbon Management Board (2010 - date)
  • School of Science School Board (2004 – 2013)
  • School of Health and Social Care School Board (2003 - 2013)
  • School of Science Research Committee as Research Professor (2005 – 2013)
  • School of Science European Champion (2008 –2014)
  • Working party for the University Information Strategy (2007)
  • Avery Hill Campus Research Degrees Committee (2007-2008)
  • University Resources Sub-committee as Resources Director (2005-2008)
  • School Management Team as Resources Director (2005-2008)
  • Medway Campus estates committee (2005-2008)
  • School of Science Research, Outreach and Consultancy Committee (2005 – 2008)
  • Professors and Readers Selection Board (2004-2008)
  • Nordic Energy Research Reference Group Board for Nordic Flagship Program (2016-2021)
  • RSC-Pan Africa Chemistry Network Advisory Board (2015 - )
  • Grant Review Panel Formas Sweden: Resource Efficient Products and Processes (2014 –ongoing ); Forest Raw Materials (2014-ongoing); Chair Formas Sweden Panel Grant Review for: Research Synthesis (2015)
  • Grant Review Panel Nordic Energy Research Flagship Projects (2015)
  • Grant Review Panel BBSRC, EPSRC
  • Board member of the European Algal Biomass Association (2009 -2014)
  • Editorial Board (Associate Editor) Journal of Biomass to Biofuel
  • Governor of Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust (2008 -date)
  • ReMade South East Steering committee: ReMade works with businesses, public organisations and community groups in the South East region to find practical solutions to challenging waste issues and minimise the region's environmental footprint by saving natural resources and reducing CO2 emissions (2006 -date)
  • Editorial Board member for Environmental Chemistry Letters (2004 - )
  • Scientific board member for the Association of Chemistry and the Environment (2004 -date)
  • Steering Committee for European Conferences on E-learning (2002 -date)
  • Management Committee (UK representative) of EU Cooperation in the field of Scientific and Technical Research (COST) Action 859: Phytotechnologies to improve food chain safety (2004 - 2009) and Chair of WG3: Improving nutritional quality & safety of food crops

In land plants development of a hyperoxidant state accompanies modification of the plant cell wall architecture and is associated with an increase in extracellular peroxidase secretion, cell wall thickening and increased lignification, which limits productivity when plants are grown in contaminated land.

The effects in algae remain to be deciphered, but could provide new opportunities for tailoring microalgae such as Dunaliella to produce suites of compounds to meet market requirements, sustainably.

"Engineering Micro-algae for Pharmaceutical Production", is an  ABSIG SPARK (TSB, NERC, BBSRC) –funded project with IOTA Pharmaceuticals to explore the chemical biology of D. salina, assessing its potential both as a direct source of bioactive compounds and as a host within which to engineer new pathways for the production of novel, high-value biochemicals, specifically targeting pharmaceutical applications.

An EU FP7 KBBE "The CO2 Algal Biorefinery" project (No: 613870), "The Microalgae biorefinery", will establish a sustainable biorefinery based on biomass from halophilic microalgae such as Dunaliella. Fuel-only algal systems are not economically feasible but algae biorefineries that aim at additional revenue streams besides algae biofuels offer a solution. Our aim is to showcase a sustainable biorefinery demonstration based on biomass from halophilic microalgae in Europe (The D-Factory), serving as a world benchmark for microalgae biorefineries.

Current and Previous Funded Research Projects

Capacity Building in South Africa, Namibia and Ghana to create sustainable, non-food bio-oil supply chains is a large multi-national EU- ACP S&T project that delivered a range of training, research and awareness-raising measures to build capacity and create non-food biomass-based supply chains in Namibia, Ghana and South Africa and underpin future green sustainable biofuel and chemical industries. Effort was focused on algae that can be cultivated in highly saline waters: these have the potential to produce oils, glycerol, and biochemicals and can be cultivated without indirect land use change (ILUC); on biomass for heat and power applications, and on biogas production from anaerobic digestion of organic watery wastes. The project also nurtured the growing world-wide interest in algae and waste water management using Integrated Algal Pond Systems (IAPS) (also known as Advanced Integrated Waste Water Pond Systems (AIWPS) which use anaerobic technologies to extract bioenergy and produce biogas as well as lower costs in producing clean waste waters. In all,
* 8 research proposals were offered for funding, of which the FP7 KBBE proposal "The CO2 Microalgae Biorefinery (D-Factory)" was approved: The Microalgae Biorefinery (D-Factory) KBBE.2013.3.2 № 613870 has been recommended for funding for € 9,965,068.22 and through its Innovation Platform, will support the efforts of Glycal Namibia; and of salt pan owners in the Province of Trapani, Sicily, and in South Africa.
* More than 11 training initiatives were developed and delivered at Partner organisations and materials were made available on the project website at
* 6 new biofuel businesses were initiated, four of which were launched.
* 6 renewable Combined Heat and Power (CHP) systems were planned.
* 6 promotional networking events were delivered with media coverage selected to reach relevant stakeholders (science and technology academics, professionals, decision-makers and support scheme managers).

"The CO2 microalgae biorefinery: D-Factory" (FP7 KBBE.2013.3.2-02 No: 613870)is a 10 million Euro FP7-funded project supporting 13 partners from 8 countries to produce suites of compounds from the microalga Dunaliella, flexibly to meet market requirements, and sustainably.

Representing the largest (100s ha) of current commercial cultivation technologies for any microalga, Dunaliella is cultivated commercially in highly saline non-potable waters for β-carotene, the content of which vastly exceeds that found in many land plants. After harvesting, the cells are spray-dried then sold as a high-value preparation of β-carotene that meets FDA approval. However β-carotene is not the only compound of commercial interest: Dunaliella cells also produce a range of other carotenoids, oxycarotenoids, lipids, proteins and other compounds of commercial value as well as glycerol: up to 80% of their mass, depending on biological and environmental conditions. Glycerol has emerged as both a new biofuel for an entirely new environmentally-sustainable, biofuel industry as well as an intermediate to replace various fossil oil-based bulk chemicals e.g. ethylene, propylene glycols, 1,4-butanediol,  epichlorohydrin, acrolein.

Biorefinery concepts and European innovations in biomass processing technologies, namely: supercritical CO2 extraction; high performance counter-current chromatography and the use of membranes are being applied to Dunaliella biomass, and the productivities of algal strains are being tailored for biorefinery requirements. Photobioreactors and open raceways serve as cultivation vesicles and novel harvesting technology is being developed based on spiral plate technology and ultramembrane filtration to harvest the cells. Data emerging from the application of the bioprocessing technologies will be integrated with sustainability assessments (technological, environmental, economic and social) and used in the construction of designs, flow sheets and integrated schemes for the D-Factory business case, which will raise investment for the first prototype D-Factory in Europe.  The D-Factory demonstration is scheduled to be operational within 48 months and will serve as a robust manifestation of the business case for global investment in algae biorefineries and in large-scale production of microalgae using photobioreactors, algal raceways and lakes.

ECOTEC 21: CHP technologies with biofuels including glycerol is an Interreg funded project which is driving the innovation for glycerol-CHP as a sustainable retrofit solution for low carbon power generation, energy efficiency and cultural change. Representing an unusual multi-school collaboration between Architecture; Engineering; Science; Business; Psychology, and the Facilities Management team, the aim is to demonstrate biofuel (glycerol) power generation at the Medway Campus, which is home to the Faculty of Engineering and Science, and develop the glycerol supply chain. The project will initially use glycerol from biodiesel manufacture, with current parallel research programmes underway to establish glycerol supplies from algae biorefineries. Future plans are to develop engineering solutions for year round glycerol production from microalgae by plumbing a modular microalgae cultivation facility into the glycerol-CHP technology demonstration. This would utilize low-grade waste heat from a CHP system; CO2 from the flue gas of CHP, and saline waste water from desalination operations, ultimately demonstrating the technical feasibility of power generation with a low overall carbon footprint based on CHP linked to an algae biorefinery.

Funded research projects

  1. PHYCPoC-05 (2015-16) BBSRC £10,000 with Cellexus Ltd. Cultivation of Dunaliella salina, an extremophile, for glycerol and carotenoids using a novel Single-Use Bioreactor
  2. ABSig SPARK Plus (2015-16) £5,000 with Bioextractions Ltd. Tuning algae for biofuel profitably
  3. ABSig SPARK (2014-15) £5,000 with IOTA Pharmaceuticals. Engineering Micro-algae for Pharmaceutical Production
  4. Macrobiocrude: (2013-2017) EPSRC) £164,422
  5. The CO2 algae biorefinery: D-Factory KBBE.2013.3.2-02 (2013-2017) €10 573 671 Lead Partner for a collaboration with13 partners from Portugal UK, Holland, Germany, Italy, Greece, Israel, Sweden (7 SMEs, 2 Research Institutes, 2 Universities, 2 Large Enterprises).
  6. ECOTEC 21: CHP technologies with biofuels including glycerol. (2011-2015) €4,261,405.00 Interreg funding with Medway Council as lead of which €1,384,000 to the University. Leading a university team drawn from the Schools of Engineering, Architecture and Construction, Psychology, and Business, and Facilities Management to develop the biofuel (glycerol) supply chain and demonstrate biofuel (glycerol) CHP.
  7. Zerowise Sustainable Food Waste Solutions (2009-13) £969,727 SEEDA-EU ERDF with ReMade South East (Lead Partner), £72,000 to the University. The aim is to operate demonstration trials to test the collection and treatment of commercial food waste in the South East by anaerobic digestion or composting, to reduce waste going to landfill.
  8. EU ACP Science and Technology (2009-13) €857,055: (Lead): Capacity-building in South Africa, Namibia and Ghana to create sustainable, non-food bio oil supply chains from oil-bearing plants and microalgae for providing CHP electricity, and in the future, the chemical feedstocks needed to replace fossil fuels, by linking the relevant science and technology academics, professionals, decision-makers and support scheme managers from South Africa, Namibia, Ghana, Italy and the UK. Specifically to build capacity in the research institutes and universities of Partner countries to develop the supply of sustainable bio-oil from 2nd generation oil-bearing plants (jatropha, salicornia) and from microalgae; and develop new products with high value.
  9. Novel catalysis of microalgae for conversion to biofuels (2008-11) £67,500 Kebbi State Nigeria. (Lead). The aim is to use SCF extraction to produce products including glycerol from halophytic microalgae
  10. Glycal: Glycerol Power from Microalgae - Aquafuel Research (2011) £3,934 SEEDA Innovation and Sustainability (Lead), to develop EU FP7 grant applications.
  11. Chemicals from lignocellulose - BioSep (2011) £2,000 (Lead), to review progress in lignin technologies
  12. AD digestate analysis and consultation - British Sugar (2011) £11,000 (Lead)
  13. Production purification of biodiesel from plant oils of different origin (2007-10) £51,000 SEEDA-RAE (Lead)
  14. An integrated process for the production of biodiesel from oilseed rape (2007-9) £749,600 Realising the Economic Potential of emerging technologies – collaborative project for the development of energy technologies (SEEDA). (Lead). Collaborators: 12 partners –KCC, BLK, Farming Consultancy and SMEs in Kent
  • Milledge JJ, Harvey PJ (2016) Ensilage and Anaerobic Digestion of Sargassum muticum. Journal of Applied Phycology. Accepted for publication 16/01/2016
  • Huber C, Preis M, Harvey PJ, Grosse S, Letzel T, Schroder P (2016) Emerging pollutants and plants e Metabolic activation of diclofenac by peroxidasesChemosphere 146 (2016) 435e441
  • Y Xu, JJ Milledge, A Abubakar, RAR Swamy, D Bailey and PJ Harvey (2015) Effects of centrifugal stress on cell disruption and glycerol leakage from Dunaliella salina Microalgae Biotechnology. 1, 2300-3561, DOI: 10.1515/micbi-2015-0003, 2015
  • Bailey, D and Harvey PJ (2015) From Photons to Pharmaceuticals: Exploring the Chemical and Molecular Biology of the Green Alga Dunaliella salina (to be submitted)
  • Milledge, J, Staple, A, Harvey, PJ (2015) Slow Pyrolysis as a Method for the Destruction of Japanese Wireweed, Sargassum muticum Environment and Natural Resources Research; Vol. 5, No. 1; ISSN 1927-0488 E-ISSN 1927-0496
  • Balasubramaniyam, A Chapman MM & Harvey, PJ (2015) Responses of tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea) to growth in naphthalene contaminated sand: xenobiotic stress versus water stress Environ Sci Pollut Res DOI 10.1007/s11356-015-4084-8
  • Balasubramaniyam, A & Harvey, PJ (2015)Changes in the abundance of sugars and sugar-like compounds in tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea) due to growth in naphthalene-treated sand Environ Sci Pollut Res (2015) 22:5817–5830 DOI 10.1007/s11356-014-3812-9
  • Balasubramaniyam, A & Harvey, PJ (2014) Scanning electron microscopic investigations of root structural modifications arising from growth in crude oil-contaminated sand Environ Sci Pollut Res DOI 10.1007/s11356-014-3138-7
  • Milledge, J., Smith, B., Dyer, P., Harvey, PJ (2014), Macroalgae-derived biofuel: a review of methods of energy extraction from seaweed biomass. Energies 7, 1-x; doi:10.3390/en70x000x
  • Psycha M., Pyrgakisa K., Harvey PJ et al (2014) Integrated Designs of Micro-Algae Biorefineries Using a Fixed Selection of Halophytic Algae DOI: 10.5071/22ndEUBCE2014-1DO.4.1 Proc. 22nd EU BC&E Pp135-141
  • Psycha M., Pyrgakisa K., Harvey PJ et al (2014) Design Analysis of Integrated Microalgae Biorefineries. Computer Aided Chemical Engineering 34, 591–596 
  • Harvey et al (2014) The CO2 Microalgae Biorefinery: High Value Products from Low Value Wastes Using Halophylic Microalgae in the D-Factory. Part 1: Tackling Cell Harvesting DOI: 10.5071/22ndEUBCE2014-1CV.4.69 Proc. 22nd EU BC&E Pp 360 – 363

Browse our publications database

  • RSC-P&G Symposium: Chemical Sciences and Technology Enabling Growth in Africa Lagos Nigeria 11-12 Feb 2016. Invited Plenary Speaker
  • The CO2 Microalgae Biorefinery European Algal Biomass Association Conf & Exhib. Session Chair and Speaker Lisbon, Dec 2-4 2015
  • Path from Lab to Commercialisation: The D-Factory - a CO2 Microalgae Biorefinery ACI European Algae Biomass Amsterdam 23 April 2015
  • European Commission study on Algae biorefineries Brussels 30 March 2015
  • The D-Factory: a CO2 Microalgae Biorefinery Algae around the World. Phyconet Cambridge 19th March 2015
  • Bioenergy: Biofuel Supply chains RSC British Science Week 18th March 2015
  • Biodiversity and Global Challenges: A chemical sciences approach Pan Africa Chemistry Network Addis Ababa 2 Dec 2014
  • Moving towards commercialising glycerol as a marine fuel Lloyds Maritime Academy, London 17 Nov 2014
  • Sources of Glycerol Cummins Inc. Nerdfest 15th Sept 2014
  • "Plants for the production of high value chemicals" ECB16 16th European Congress on Biotechnology-Congress Programme 13 - 16 July 2014, Edinburgh International Convention Centre, Edinburgh, UK
  • IChemE webinar on "D-Factory" project 2 July 2014
  • Glycerol Supply Chains Seawork 2014 International, ABP Port of Southampton 11th June 2014
  • The CO2 Microalgae Biorefinery: High Value Products and Biofuels Using Halophilic Microalgae in the "D-Factory" EU Biomass Conference June 23-26, 2014
  • Engineering sustainable biofuels & novel chemicals in algae & non-food plants. Metabolic engineering for biotechnology: fundamental knowledge to societal benefit. Invited speaker, Ann Conf. Soc Gen Microbiol. Liverpool 14 April 2014
  • Biofuels The Challenges Probus Club South East 8 April 14
  • Biofuels here do we go from here? Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) Bromley Branch. 1 April 2014
  • Westminster Energy, Environment and Transport Forum Keynote Seminar: Biofuels: the 2020 targets, ILUC and looking forward to 2030. 13 Feb 2014
  • The Microalgae biorefinery - BioCrude to Fine chemicals Royal Society of Chemistry, London 19 Nov 2013
  • Towards Establishing Value Chains for Bioenergy in Namibia - Opening Lecture April 29-30, 2013, Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Swakopmund
  • Production of non-food, bio-oil supply chains for renewable energy in Ghana - Opening Lecture April 2-4, 2013, Yiri Lodge, University of Ghana, Legon, Ghana
  • BBC News: Glycerol – CHP. 8 November 2012

Browse our publications database