Professor Gary Leeke BSc, PhD, FHEA

Professor Gary Leeke

School of Chemical Engineering
Head of School
Professor of Chemical Engineering

Contact details

University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Gary has over 20 years expertise in resource efficiency and the development of processes to recover, upgrade and remanufacture materials and chemicals.

Gary works at the interface of chemical engineering/chemistry/materials and has expertise in high pressure engineering and thermo-chemical processing, specifically in reaction engineering, separation technology, polymer/composite processing and remanufacture, waste materials and the circular economy. He led the EPSRC funded EXHUME project (EP/K026348/1), investigating the deconstruction of fibre reinforced composite. He currently leads the chemical engineering activities on the Faraday Institution funded Re-Lib project investigating the recycling of lithium ion batteries and three government funded projects (Innovate UK 74000-496338, BEIS Energy Entrepreneur Fund 5 and British Council Institutional Links, 279359364) dealing with the transformation of plastic waste into chemical products.

He is enthusiastic about communicating resource efficiency and processing and has delivered a number of keynote and plenaries, recent examples are: UnMaking Waste, Adelaide, Composites UK, Manchester Single Use Plastics, Cardiff and the Veolia Institute Strategic Materials, Oxford as well as being featured on TV (Sky News, Bloomberg) and in the press (The Engineer, TCE and EPSRC Pioneer magazine). He has over 140 papers in journals and refereed conferences.

Professor Leeke is also a part of the Birmingham Plastics Network, an interdisciplinary team of more than 40 academics working together to shape the fate and sustainable future of plastics.  This unique team brings together chemists, environmental scientists, engineers, philosophers, linguists, economists, artists, writers, lawyers, and experts in many other fields, to holistically address the global plastics problem.


  • PG Cert in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education, University of Birmingham, 2011
  • PhD in Chemical Engineering, University of Birmingham, 2000


Professor Leeke received his PhD under the direction of the late Michael King from the University of Birmingham in 2000. His PhD research focused on high pressure phase equilibria and mass transfer. After his PhD, he took up a post-doctoral researcher post and then spent a spell in industry where he executed research and development for the oil, gas and water industries. He then returned to Birmingham to undertake further post-doctoral research and was awarded a lectureship in 2006, progressing to Reader in Low Carbon Technologies in 2013.

In April 2016 he moved to Cranfield University to take up a position as Professor and Head of Bioenergy and Resource Management Centre. He returned to the University of Birmingham in Dec 2018 as Professor of Chemical Engineering.


  • Mass, Heat and Momentum Transport
  • Processing for Formulation
  • Sustainable Process Engineering

Postgraduate supervision

For PhD opportunities please contact Professor Gary Leeke.


Battery Recycling

Gary currently leads the chemical engineering activities on the Faraday Institution funded Re-Lib project investigating the recycling of lithium ion batteries to facilitate a circular economy of such devices.

Mixed Plastic Waste

Other current research activities are focussed on the processing of mixed plastic waste into fuels and chemicals including naphtha (plastic-to-plastic concept). He leads three projects in this area working with academia and industry to deliver solutions toward our reliance on plastic.

The use of decarbonised energy is the only way we can truly move to a circular economy. He is researching the integration of Concentrated Solar Power with pyrolysis to process waste materials with colleagues in KISR, Kuwait and Aston University on a British Council funded project.

Composite Recycling

He led the £1.42 million EPSRC funded collaborative project called EXHUME (Efficient X-sector use of HeterogeneoUs MatErials in Manufacturing) which researched and developed novel recycling and remanufacturing processes for composite waste, as well as assessing the environmental impact of the solutions.

As part of this work he demonstrated how composite materials could be reused across industry. He developed a demonstration model in the form of a 6.5 m carbon fibre racing kayak which showed that recycled materials could play a huge part in the future of manufacturing, with potential applications in high performance sporting goods, automotive components, wind and marine.

Other Resource Processing

He is interested in the processing of biogenic (biomass residues) and anthropogenic materials and their use as resources (chemicals, materials, fibres). Of special interest is the assessment and development of recovery technologies and their integration into the process environment.

Supercritical Fluids and Ionic Liquids

He is also interested in processes to control crystal form and particle formation technologies that lead to enhanced performance of materials used in solar, pharmaceutical and packaging applications. The development of processes based on supercritical fluid and ionic liquid systems are areas of particular interest, including the measurement and modelling of non-Ideal phase behaviour.


Gary has received funding from UK Research Councils, BEIS, British Council, Innovate UK, European Commission, Regional Development Agency, the governments of Malaysia, Mexico, Brazil, Nigeria and Kuwait and direct from industry. He has supervised 13 post docs and 31 PhD students.

Recent Research Activity

Faraday Institution – Recycling of Lithium Ion Batteries (ReLiB).

BEIS – Energy Entrepreneurs Fund 5. Development of a plastic waste-derived fuel or industrial burner application. Collaborative research led by Recycling Technologies Ltd

Innovate UK - Development of a plastic waste-derived chemicals, Collaborative research led by Recycling Technologies Ltd

British Council - Pyrolysis of MSW using Concentrated Solar Power with Aston University and KISR, Kuwait

CBMNet - Metabolic Engineering of Yarrowia lipolytica for Co-production of Xylitol and Lipids Fuels using Industrial Waste

Innovate UK - Improving food supply chain efficiency. Novel Integrated EPS and PEF process for Dairy by-products processing for use as high value ingredients. Collaborative research with Arla, Sere-Tech, GLW Feeds and C-Tech Innovation.

EPSRC – EXHUME. Efficient cross sector use of heterogeneous materials (recycling of composite waste). Collaborative Research with the Universities of Cranfield, Exeter and Manchester and Airbus (EADS) + others.

European Commission - Replacement of food packaging with a biodegradable biopolymer. Multi-partners

Other activities

  • Member of the Editorial Board of Renewable Energy (Elsevier)
  • Composites UK - Composites Leadership Forum Sustainability Working Group
  • Member of EPSRC Peer Review College (2012 – present; re-invited 2016)
  • Gary has acted as advisor to the New Plastics Economy


  • Li, Q., Huang, D., Lu, T., Seville, J.P.K., Xing, L., Leeke, G.A., (2017) Supercritical Fluid Coating of MCC with API Enhances Drug Release Profile, Chem. Eng. Journal, 313, 317-327.
  • Oliveux, G.; Bailleul, J-L.; Gillet, A., Mantaux, O.; Leeke, G.A., (2017) Recovery and reuse of carbon fibres by solvolysis: realignment and material properties, Composites Science and Technology, 139, 99-108.
  • Rybicka, J., Tiwari, A., Leeke, G.A., (2016), Technology Readiness Level Assessment of Composites Recycling Technologies, Journal of Cleaner Production, 112, 1001-1012
  • Maniam. S., Holmes, A.B.H., Leeke, G.A., Bilic, A., Collis, G.E., (2015), Chemically Altering the Solubility and Durability of Dyes for Sensitised Solar Cells, Organic Letts, 17, 4022-4025
  • Oliveux, G., Dandy, L., Leeke, G.A., (2015), Degradation of a Model Epoxy Resin by Solvolysis Routes, Polymer Degradation and Stability, 118, 96-103.
  • Dandy, L.O., Oliveux, G., Wood, J., Jenkins, M.J., Leeke, G.A., (2015), Counting carbon fibres by Electrical Resistance Measurement, Composites Part A, 68, 276-281.
  • Oliveux, G., Dandy, L., Leeke, G.A., (2015), Current Status of Recycling of Fibre Reinforced Polymers: Review of Technologies, Reuse applications and Resulting Properties, Progress in Materials Science, 72, 61-99.
  • Hajimirzaee, S., Ainte, M., Soltani, B., Behbahani, R.M., Leeke, G.A., Wood, J., (2015), Dehydration of Methanol to light olefins upon zeolite/alumina catalysts: effect of reaction conditions, catalyst support and zeolite modification, Chem. Eng. Res. Des., 93, 541-553.
  • Smith, K., Bridson, R.H., Leeke, G.A., (2014), Crystallisation Control of Paracetamol from Ionic Liquids, Cryst Eng Comm.,16(47), 10797-1080.
  • Sattar, A., Leeke, G.A., Hornung, A., Wood, J., (2014), Steam Gasification of Pyrolysis Biochars for the Production of a Hydrogen-Rich Gas: Influence of Temperature and Steam, Biomass and Bioenergy, 69, 276-286.
  • Cenci, S., Cox, L.R.,  Leeke, G.A., (2014), Ultrasound-induced Emulsification of Subcritical Carbon Dioxide and Water with and without Surfactant as a Strategy for Enhanced Mass Transport, Ultrasonics Sonochemistry, 21, 401-408.
  • Cenci, S., Cox, L.R.,  Leeke, G.A., (2014) Metal-mediated Allylation of Aldehydes in CO2/H2O Emulsions: a Protocol for Clean Product Separation Following Reactions in Biphasic Media, Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering, 2, 1280-1288.

View all publications in research portal