Phil Holmes

Dr Philip Holmes

Teaching Fellow in Chemical and Process Engineering
+44 (0)1483 686576
10 BC 02

Academic and research departments

Department of Chemical and Process Engineering.



1968-72 Courtaulds Ltd (man-made fibres and textiles): student apprentice chemical engineer

1969-72 University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology: student

1972-81 Courtaulds Ltd: chemical engineer in research and development of processes for production of synthetic tobacco, modified acrylic fibre, acetic acid based chemicals, viscose rayon

1981-05 ExxonMobil: technical specialist in fluid catalytic cracking

1981-87 Esso Petroleum Company Ltd., Fawley Refinery

1987-89 Esso Engineering (Europe) Ltd., New Malden

1989-92 Exxon Research and Engineering Company, New Jersey, USA

1992-00 Esso Engineering (Europe) Ltd., Leatherhead

2000-05 ExxonMobil Engineering (Europe) Ltd., Fawley Refinery

2005- University of Surrey

2005-08 Centre for Environmental Strategy: PhD student

2008- Department of Chemical and Process Engineering:

2008-10 Associate Lecturer

2010-14 Senior Tutor

2014- Teaching Fellow (part-time)

Research interests

Petroleum oil refining industry.


Process safety and operations integrity.

Research collaborations

2005-8 Two oil refineries in the UK.

2008 Rolls-Royce.

2010, 13 Ricardo-AEA for Committee on Climate Change.

2014-16 Parsons Brinkerhoff and DNV-GL for Department of Energy and Climate Change and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

Research Supervision


Neil Weston: Identifying More Sustainable Technological Solutions for the Oil Refining Industry, Chevron/Texaco, Pembroke, awarded September 2011.


Gledys Gonzalez: Sustainability and waste management: a case study on an UK oil refinery during day-to-day and turnaround operations, awarded February 2016.


Several and various research projects since 2010.



Past: chemical reaction engineering (Year 2); binary distillation (Year 2); engineering management (Year 2); filtration and centrifugation (Year 3); capital cost estimating and economic evaluation of projects (Year 3); sustainability of projects (Year 3). Current: as MSc modules (Year 4).


Module coordinator for:

Introduction to Petroleum Production

Refinery and Petrochemical Processing

Process Safety and Operations Integrity

Departmental duties

2010-14 Senior Tutor with responsibilities for professional training.


Member of IChemE Sustainability Special Interest Group

Publication highlights

Journal papers:

Pritchard, C.L., A. Yang, P. Holmes, M.P. Wilkinson (2015). "Thermodynamics, economics and systems thinking: what role for air capture?". Process Safety and Environmental Protection, (2015), 188-195.

Weston, N., R. Clift, P. Holmes, L. Basson, N. White (2010). "Streamlined Life Cycle Approaches for Use at Oil Refineries and Other Large Industrial Facilities". Industrial and Engineering Chemical Research, 50 (3), 1624-1636.

PhD thesis:

Holmes, P. (2008). "Reducing Carbon Dioxide Emissions in the UK Petroleum Oil Refining Industry". Centre for Environmental Strategy, University of Surrey.


US 5591411 "Catalytic Cracking Apparatus".

US 5552119 "Method and Apparatus for Contacting Solid Particles and Fluid".

US 5368721 "Catalytic Cracking System".

US 5348642 "Catalytic Cracking Process with Circulation of Hot Regenerated Catalyst to the Stripping Zone".


To achieve sustainability in the global economy requires all organisations to operate in ways which are equitable and socially acceptable, technological viable, economically affordable and with minimum impact to the environment. Worldwide, and in particular in the UK, the sustainability of the oil refining industry has come under increasing scrutiny in an environment with high energy demand and stringent regulations. The oil refining sector processes large amounts of raw materials and produces substantial quantities of waste which need to be treated, mostly at facilities away from the refinery site. Waste management represents a challenge to the industry not only because of the impacts to the environment but also due to high treatment costs. This thesis describes research carried out to investigate and address some of the problems related to sustainability, in particular the management of raw materials and waste, based on the Valero Refinery, Pembroke, Wales as a specific example. The starting point of this research was a review of general theory, legislation and practice for measuring, monitoring and managing raw materials consumption and waste production. This was followed by an analysis of specific waste management practices at the Valero Refinery which showed that individual process units can do much to improve their performance by increased monitoring and control. Following the identification, classification and quantification of refinery waste over 2007-2013, it was observed that although variable, the annual amount of total waste produced has shown an increasing trend from about 21 kt to 24 kt with a peak of 29 kt in 2011. Similarly, the total annual costs of waste treatment have increased from about £2.0 M to £5.0 M. From this trend it was identified that hazardous waste was the largest (about 75 % w/w) and costliest (about 70 % of total) waste to treat, composed mainly of fluoridic caustic (about 85 %) but with significant contributions from phenolic caustic and oily sludge. Finally, a novel application of material flow analysis (MFA) methodology was developed to detect points where value could be recovered and waste reduced during a refinery-wide turnaround for maintenance and project purposes. The MFA revealed that waste management practices, in particular collection, segregation and temporary storage of some wastes, can be improved to avoid environmental contamination, landfilling and transportation within and outside the Refinery boundaries. It also evidenced opportunities to investigate alternative treatment methods, especially for used catalysts.