Muhammad Afzal


On leave until June 2023

Mechanical Engineering

Head Hall E46A

1 506 453 4880

Research interests

  • Microwave heating, reactor design and development
  • Microwave pyrolysis, biochar and its applications
  • Biocomposites, physio-chemical, mechanical characterization
  • Thermo-chemical conversion technologies
  • Densification, solid biofuels, torrefaction
  • Techno-economic analysis of bioenergy pathways
  • Modeling of heat and mass transfer

Bioenergy and Bioproducts Research Lab (BBRL)

Bioenergy and bioproducts research is led by Dr. Muhammad T Afzal.

His research focuses on feedstock processing and engineering, pellets, briquettes, modelling of compaction phenomena and thermo-mechanical characterization, feedstock management including its storage, drying, modelling and logistics.

Recently, Dr. Afzal and his team are focusing on design and development of novel technologies to produce renewable fuels, chemicals and value-added products and materials, process modeling and optimization, which can find application in automotive, food, chemical, health and pharmaceutical industry. It is also our goal to discover and promote the use of next generation clean energy through innovative research and education. We are interested in life cycle assessment of materials and products and developing alternate solutions to lessen the environmental impact in manufacturing and usage.

Key ongoing research activities include development of innovative technologies such as microwave heating to process and convert renewable feedstock into fuels, heat, power and bio-products, modeling and simulation of real time process.

We conduct both fundamental and applied research to develop sustainable and innovative solutions to bioenergy and bioproduct applications. BBRL is interested to develop collaborations with industry, academia and national institutes for research in feedstock engineering, conversion technologies and bioproducts from renewable materials.

Selected research publications

1. Wallace, A.C. Saha, C. G., Afzal, M. T., Lloyd, A. 2019. Experimental and computational modelling of effective flexural/tensile properties of microwave pyrolysis biochar reinforced GRFP biocomposites. Composites Part B, 175 (2019) 107180.

2. Godwin, P., Pan, Y., Xiao, H., Afzal, M.T. 2019. Progress in preparation and application of modified biochar for improving heavy metal ion removal from wastewater. J. Bioresources and Bioproducts, 4 (1): 31-42.

3. Wallace, A.C., Afzal, M. T., Saha, C.G. 2019. Effect of feedstock and microwave pyrolysis temperature on physio-chemical and nano-scale mechanical properties of biochar. Bioresour. Bioprocess. (2019) 6: 33.

4. Tomatis, M., Parvez, A.M., Afzal, M. T., Mareta, S., Wu, T., He, J., He, T. 2019. Utilization of CO2 in renewable DME fuel production: A life cycle analysis (LCA) based case study. Fuel, 254, 115627.

5. Parvez, A.M., Wu, T., Afzal, M.T., Mareta, S., He, T., and Zhai, M. 2019. Conventional and microwave-assisted pyrolysis of gumwood: a comparison study using thermodynamic evaluation and hydrogen production. Fuel Processing Technology, 184: 1-11.

6. Parvez, A.M., Wu, T., Hong, Y., Chen, W., Lester, E. H., Mareta, S., and Afzal, M.T. 2019. Gasification reactivity and synergistic effect of conventional and microwave pyrolysis derived algae chars in CO2 atmosphere. Journal of the Energy Institute, 92 (3):730-740.

7. Nhuchhen, D.R., Afzal, M. T., Dreise, T., and Salema, A. A. 2018. Characteristics of biochar and bio-oil produced from wood pellets pyrolysis using a bench scale fixed bed, microwave reactor. Biomass and Bioenergy, 119:293-303.

8. Nhuchhen, D.R., Afzal, M. T., and Parvez, A. M. 2018. Effect of torrefaction on the fuel characteristics of timothy hay, Biofuels,

9. Harun, N. Y., Parvez, A. M., and Afzal, M. T., 2018. Process and energy analysis of pelleting agricultural and woody biomass blends. Sustainability, 10 (6), 1770; doi:10.3390/su10061770.

10. Bowlby, L. K., Saha, C. G., Afzal, M. T. 2018. Flexural strength behavior in pultruded GFRP composites reinforced with high specific-surface-area biochar particles synthesized via microwave pyrolysis. Composites Part A, 110:190-196.

11. Salema, A.A., and Afzal, M.T., and Bennamoun, L. 2017. Pyrolysis of corn stalk biomass briquettes in a scaled-up microwave technology. Bioresource Technology, 233:353-362.

12. Nhuchhen, D.R., and Afzal, M. T., 2017. HHV predicting correlations for torrified biomass using proximate and ultimate analyses. Bioengineering, 4 (7): 1-15. DOI: 10.3390/ bioengineering4010007.

13. Bennamoun L, Harun N.Y, Afzal M.T., 2017. Effect of storage conditions on moisture sorption of mixed biomass pellets. Arab J Sci Eng., DOI 10.1007/s13369-017-2808-4.

14. Bennamoun L, Afzal M.T., Chauhan S., 2017. Assessment of moisture effect in simulating forestry biomass supply chain strategy: case study of New Brunswick, Canada. Croat. J. for.eng., 38(1):19- 31.

15. Bennamoun L., Chen Z., Afzal M.T., 2016. Microwave drying of wastewater sludge: Experimental and modeling study. Drying Technology, 34 (2)235-243.

16. Harun, N. Y., and Afzal, M. T., 2016. Effect of particle size on mechanical properties pellets made from biomass blends. Procedia Engineering, 148:93-99.

17. Harun, N. Y., and Afzal, M. T., 2015. Chemical and mechanical properties of pellets made from agricultural and woody biomass blends. Transaction of the ASABE, 58(4): 921-930.

18. Motasemi, F., Arshad Adam Salema, Afzal, M. T., 2015. Microwave dielectric properties of agricultural biomass at high temperature and in inert environment. Transaction of the ASABE, 58(3):869-877.

19. Bennamoun L., Chen Z., Salema A. A., Afzal M. T., 2015. Moisture diffusivity during microwave drying of wastewater sewage sludge. Transactions of the ASABE, 58(2):501-508.

20. Bennamoun, L., Afzal, M. T., and Leonard, A. 2015. Drying of alga as a source of bioenergy feedstock and food supplement – a review, Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 50:1203-1212.

21. Motasemi, F., Salema, A. A., and Afzal, M. T., 2015. Dielectric characterization of corn stover for microwave processing technology. Fuel Processing Technology, 131:370-375.

22. Salema, A.A., and Afzal, M.T., 2015. Numerical simulation of heating behavior in biomass bed and pellets under multimode microwave system. International Journal of Thermal Sciences, 91:12-24.

23. Harun, N. Y. and Afzal, M. T. 2015. Combustion behavior and thermal analysis of agricultural and woody biomass blends. Advances in Environmental Biology, 9 (15): 34-40.

24. Motasemi, F., Salema, A. A., and Afzal, M. T., 2014. Microwave dielectric characterization of hay during pyrolysis. Industrial Crops and Products, 61:492-498.

25. Motasemi, F., Afzal, M. T., Salema, A. A., Mouris, J; and Hutcheon, R.M. 2014. Microwave dielectric characterization of switchgrass for bioenergy and biofuel. Fuel, 124:151-157.

26. Motasemi, F., Afzal, M. T., Salema, A. A., Moghavvemi, M., Shekarchia, M., Zarifi, F., and Mohsin, R. 2014. Energy and exergy utilization efficiencies and emission performance of Canadian transportation sector, 1990-2035. Energy, 64: 355-366.

27. Salema, A. A., Afzal, M. T., and Motasemi, F. 2014. Is there synergy between carbonaceous material and biomass during conventional pyrolysis? A TG-FTIR approach. Journal of Analytical and Applied Pyrolysis, 105: 217-226.

28. Chen, Z., Afzal, M. T., Salema, A. A. 2014. Microwave drying of wastewater sewage sludge. Journal of Clean Energy Technology, 2:282-286.

29. Bennamoun, L; Afzal, M. T., and Leonard, A. 2013. Baker’s yeast behaviour during vacuum agitated contact drying. Chem. Eng. Technol., 36(10):1-7.

30. Motassemi, F., and Afzal, M.T. 2013. A review on the microwave assisted pyrolysis technique. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 28:317-330.

31. Dhamodharan, A., and Afzal, M. T. 2013. Modeling and characterization of reed canary grass pellet formation phenomena. International Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy, 2(2):63- 73.

32. Salema, A.A., Yeow, Y. K., Ishaque, K., Ani, F. N., Afzal, M.T., and Hassan, A. 2013. Dielectric properties and microwave heating of oil palm biomass and biochar. Industrial Crops and Products, 50:366-374.

33. Dhamodharan, A., and Afzal, M. T. 2012. Compression and springback properties of hardwood and softwood pellets. BioResources, 7(3):4362-4376.

34. Bedane, A.H., Afzal, M. T., and Sokhansanj, S. 2011. Simulation of temperature and moisture changes during storage of woody biomass owing to weather variability. Biomass and Bioenergy, 35:3147-3151.

35. Naimi, L.J., Sokhansanj, S., Womac, A.R., Bi, X., Lim, C. J., Igthinathane, C., Lau, A. K., Sowlati, T., Melin, S., Emami, M., and Afzal, M. T. 2011. Development of a population balance model to simulate fractionation of ground switchgrass. Transactions of the ASABE, 54(1):219-227.

36. Afzal, M. T., Bedane, A. H., Sokhansanj, S., and Mahmood, W. 2010. Storage of comminuted and uncomminuted forest biomass, its effect on fuel quality. BioResources, 5(1): 55-69.

37. Yazdanpanah, F., Sokhansanj, S., Lau, A., Lim, C. J., Bi, X., Melin, S., and Afzal, M. T. 2010. Permeability of wood pellets in the presence of fines. Bioresource Technology, 101:5565-5570.

38. Jia, D., and Afzal, M. T. 2008. Modeling the heat and mass transfer in microwave drying of white oak. Drying Technology, 26 (9): 1103-1111.

39. Jia, D., and Afzal, M. T. 2007. Modeling of moisture diffusion in microwave drying of hardwood. Drying Technology, 25: 449-454.