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Biofuels Process Engineering (MSc)

Course Description

Course Description

The MSc in Biofuels Process Engineering has been carefully structured to equip talented engineers of the highest standard with an advanced understanding and practical experience of employing biofuel research and advanced process technology within the wider bioenergy industry. Currently no other university in the UK offers a dedicated MSc course in Biofuels Process Engineering. This MSc provides you with the training and knowledge skill set that employers actively seek in a desirable engineering graduate. We recognise the importance of an interdisciplinary approach, as such the compulsory modules and course contents have been carefully developed to meet the engineering skill shortage currently faced within industry. Upon successful completion you will possess unique multidisciplinary skills required to design, optimise, and manage bioenergy and biofuel process applications.


The consolidation of the Biobased Economy requires skilled professionals who understand current and new routes for sustainable production of bioenergy and biofuels. Traditional chemical and energy industries and a large number of innovative high-tech small companies, research institutes, and public sector organisations are working together around the biorefining concept. They specialise in producing heat, power, fuels, and high-value products from biomass fractions with the aim of moving from first generation bioenergy and biofuels processes towards the sustainable and competitive production of a wide spectrum of biobased products. The bioenergy and biofuels sector is in the European Union’s political agenda as an important source of jobs (480,000 in 2012) and market growth (current annual turnover of about €50 million).

The Cranfield MSc in Biofuels Process Engineering equips talented students with advanced knowledge and skills to address the challenges of the rapidly growing and dynamic bioenergy sector. The course covers the sustainable production of heat, power and fuels from biomass within the biorefining framework. The programme considers both well-established processes, such as biomass combustion and production of first generation biofuels, and emerging technologies, such as biomass pyrolysis and second and third generation of biofuels.

Energy is a key strategic theme at Cranfield and we have a longstanding reputation for training the energy industry. Industrial-scale facilities underpin our research and teaching. Our activities include internationally recognised centres covering all aspects of the diverse energy sector. Much of the research that informs our teaching is at the leading edge of the clean tech agenda and our outreach activities are shaping the technology-management debate on science for the green economy.

English Language Requirements

If you are an international student you will need to provide evidence that you have achieved a satisfactory test result in an English qualification. The minimum standard expected from a number of accepted courses are as follows:

IELTS - 6.5
TOEFL - 92
Pearson PTE Academic - 65
Cambridge English Scale - 180
Cambridge English: Advanced - C
Cambridge English: Proficiency - C

In addition to these minimum scores you are also expected to achieve a balanced score across all elements of the test. We reserve the right to reject any test score if any one element of the test score is too low.

We can only accept tests taken within two years of your registration date (with the exception of Cambridge English tests which have no expiry date).

Course overview

The MSc in Biofuels Process Engineering is made up of eight compulsory modules, a group project and an individual research project.

In addition to management, communication, team work and research skills, each student will attain at least the following learning outcomes from this degree course:
- Understand in depth the current theory and practice of bioenergy and biofuels production processes
- Recognise and assess different feedstocks used for the production of bioenergy and biofuels and available characterisation techniques
- Critically evaluate the current technologies and bioprocesses appropriate for the production of biofuels
- Review and assess the technical and economic issues involved in the design, control and operation of biorefining plants
- Critically evaluate the current techniques and bioprocesses appropriate for the production of biofuels
- Review and assess the technical and economic issues involved in the design and operation of biofuels plants
- Identify and appraise tools and techniques for modelling and optimisation of biofuels processes and biomass energy conversion systems
- Describe and appraise current research activities in selected topics in the area of bioenergy and biofuels from a technical, economic and environmental perspective.


The taught programme is generally delivered from October to February and is comprised of eight compulsory modules. The modules are delivered over one to two weeks of intensive delivery with the later part of the module being free from structured teaching to allow time for more independent learning and reflection. Students on the part-time programme will complete all of the compulsory modules based on a flexible schedule that will be agreed with the course director.

- Management for Technology
- Waste treatment and resource management: Biological Processes
- Biofuels and Biorefining
- Thermochemical Processes
- Environmental Management
- Process Plant Operations
- Advanced Control Systems
- Process Design and Simulation

Individual Project

The individual research project allows you to delve deeper into an area of specific interest. It is very common for industrial partners to put forward real world problems or areas of development as potential research project topics. The individual research project component takes place between May and September.

If agreed with the Course Director, part-time students have the opportunity to undertake projects in collaboration with their place of work, which would be supported by academic supervision.

Individual research projects undertaken may involve feasibility assessments, reviews, practical evaluations, designs, simulations, and experimental investigations.

Previous Individual Research Projects include:
- Design of a lab scale setup for Hydrothermal Liquefaction (HTL) of Isochorysis and Pavlova, algae species and analysis of the products obtained from the process
- Comparison of microalgae biomass production using organic manure and anaerobic digestate organic fertilisers as nutrient sources
- Algem™ - Developing multi-parametric simulations of global microalgae productivity
- Developing a technology platform for large scale ultrasonic-assisted extraction of chemicals from olive mill waste
- Design and simulation of a process plant to obtain jet fuel from microalgae biomass
- Anaerobic digestate with coal flue gas for microalgae cultivation.

Group Project

The Group Project undertaken between February and April enables you to put the skills and knowledge developed during the course modules into practice in an applied context while gaining transferable skills in project management, teamwork and independent research. Projects are usually supported by industry and potential future employers value this experience. The group project is normally multidisciplinary and shared across the Energy MSc programme, giving the added benefit of working with students with other backgrounds.

Each group will be given an industrially relevant assignment to perform. During the project you will develop a range of skills including learning how to establish team member roles and responsibilities, project management, and delivering technical presentations. At the end of the project, all groups submit a written report and deliver a poster presentation to industry partners. This presentation provides the opportunity to develop presentation skills and effectively handle questions about complex issues in a professional manner.

It is clear that the modern design engineer cannot be divorced from the commercial world. In order to provide practice in this matter, a poster presentation will be required from all students. This presentation provides the opportunity to develop presentation skills and effectively handle questions about complex issues in a professional manner. All groups submit a written report and deliver a presentation to the industry partner.

Part-time students are encouraged to participate in a Group Project as it provides a wealth of learning opportunities. However, an option of an individual dissertation is available if agreed with the Course Director.

Recent Group Projects include:
- Design appraisal for a large scale anaerobic digestion plant for treatment of organic residue from municipal waste
- Study of bio-conversion processes for bio-fuel production from Algae biomass
- Fuel cell technology coupled with dry reforming of biogas.


Taught Modules: 40%
Group Project: 20%
Individual Research Project: 40%

The taught modules are assessed by an examination and/or assignment. The Group Project is assessed by a written technical report and oral presentations. The Individual Research Project is assessed by a written thesis and oral presentation.

Career opportunities

Industry driven research makes our graduates some of the most desirable in the world for recruitment by companies competing in the bioenergy sector. Biofuels are rapidly growing in the renewable bioenergy arena with a clear shortage of the required skill base around the world. Graduates from this course will be equipped with the advanced interdisciplinary skills required to design, optimise and evaluate the technical and economic viability of renewable biofuel energy. Certainly, these interdisciplinary skills are also necessary for graduates who may wish to take a management career route in the bioenergy industry.

For further information

on this course, please visit our course webpage http://www.cranfield.ac.uk/courses/masters/biofuels-process-engineering.html

Visit the Biofuels Process Engineering (MSc) page on the Cranfield University website for more details!

(Student Profile)

Chukwudubem Nwana

Impressive international rankings for the course of study and its reputation as the only postgraduate institution in the EU attracted me to Cranfield University. Also, its collaboration with industry was an important factor.
It helped me to develop my knowledge of business operations and how this interfaces with engineering expertise. I now have options in the manufacturing and the energy industries, both of which are my preferred career choices.
I found the international environment, as well as the access to social and extracurricular activities and facilities such as tennis and Jujutsu classes, and trips to Cambridge and London, fantastic.

Chukwudubem Nwanah, Management Trainee (Supply Chain -manufacturing), Unilever Nigeria,
(MSc, Energy Systems and Thermal Processes, 2014, full-time)


Cranfield Postgraduate Loan Scheme (CPLS) - 20+ Awards

Cranfield University is now able to offer you a more affordable way to study an MSc with loans managed by Prodigy Finance.With a Cranfield Postgraduate Loan it is possible for you to take up your MSc studies with no repayments while you study. This will leave you free to concentrate on your course and enhance your career prospects.Launched in February 2014, the scheme is designed to support UK and EU students entering postgraduate study and is intended to attract those who may not otherwise progress to this level because of financial constraints.Loans of up to £15,000 are available (dependent on the tuition fees for your chosen course).If you are a UK student, loans are available for tuition fees and maintenance. EU students can apply for a loan covering only tuition fees.
Loans are repaid over a seven year period and repayments start six months after you complete your degree. As a not-for-profit scheme, funded by Cranfield and HEFCE, the loans are competitively priced (6.92% APR representative) and considerably more affordable than a standard career development loan.

Value of Scholarship(s)

Loans of up to £15,000 total


You can apply for a loan if you:• are domiciled in the UK or EU and qualify for ‘Home/EU’ fees and
• have an admissions offer to a Cranfield full-time, taught MSc course in a STEM (Science, Technology Engineering or Mathematics) subject

Application Procedure

If you already have an applicable course offer you can apply online through Prodigy Finance. You will need to provide Prodigy Finance with details of your offer from Cranfield. Your loan application will be considered and responded to within a few days.If you are yet to secure an offer of a place you can register your interest in the scheme and we will keep you up-to-date.

Further Information


Entry Requirements

A first or second class UK Honours degree (or equivalent) in a related engineering or applied science. Other recognised professional qualifications or several years relevant industrial experience may be accepted as equivalent; subject to approval by the Course Director.

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