Research Areas

Dr. JJ Leahy











Dr. JJ Leahy

Department: Chemical and Environmental Science
Address: Lonsdale Building, Uni. of Limerick
Qualifications: PhD (Chemical Engineering)
Email: J.J.Leahy@ul.ie
Phone (work): (353) 61 20 2649
Fax: (353) 61 20 2568

Senior Lecturer, Analytical Chemistry

Research Interests

Biofuels research with emphasis on the processing and structure property relationships of esterified oil seed products used as substitutes for mineral diesel,  particularly their cold temperature crystallisation behaviour.
Peat Chemistry: with emphasis on gaining an understanding of the exchange processes which occur in peat soils, and the use of peat as a cheap adsorbent for heavy metals in waste streams.

Waste Management: currently involved in a pilot study for the safe thermal disposal of  risk materials from animal carcass processing.  This involves fluidised bed combustion of meat and bone meal and combustion of the tallow in fixe


“Production and testing of waste cooking oil biodiesel”
Forbairt Strategic Research Program (1996) with Teagasc
Funding  £49,000

“A trial of waste cooking oil biodiesel as a summer and winter fuel for compression ignition diesel engined vehicles”
E.U. Alterner program (1997) with CIRAD Montpellier France
Funding  £120,000

“Scale amelioration on the heat exchange surfaces of evaporative condensers”
Forbairt Applied Research Program (1998) with ZPM Europe
Funding £20,000

"The disposal of MBM and associated tallow"
Dept of Agriculture food and forestry with Dept of Agricultural and Food Engineering UCD, UPSgen Ltd Cork
Funding £382,000


O Neill, P.,  C. Birkinshaw,  JJ Leahy,  M. Buggy. 1995 The distribution of oxidation products in irradiated ultra high mlecular weight polyethylene Polymer Degradation and Stability  vol 49 239-244.

Leahy J.J.,& M.A Hughes, 1997 The Rheology of Peat/solvent Slurries J. Chem Technol & Biotechnol. Vol 70 193-197.

Leahy J.J., C. Macken & M. Ryan, 2000, The effects of radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation on the adhesion behavior of aqueous suspensions. Colloid & Interfacial Science 225, 209-213.

O’Neill, P., C. Birkinshaw, J.J. Leahy, R. Bartlie; 1999, The role of long lived free radicals in the ageing of irradiated ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene. Polymer Degradation and Stability 63 31-39.

McDonnell, K., S. Ward, J.J. Leahy., McNulty, P, 1999 Properties of Rapeseed oil for use as a Diesel fuel extender, Journal of the American Oil   Chemists Society, Vol 76, (539-543).

Moles, R., N. Moles, J.J. Leahy, 1999, Radiocarbon dated episode of Bronze Age slope instability in south-eastern Burren, Co Clare. Irish Geography, vol 32(1), 52-57.

Leahy, J.J., J.A.G.Drake,  I.L. Jamieson, C. Birkinshaw, 1990, Structural Characteristics of  peat bitumen and peat/petroleum bitumen blends, and consideration of their use as road binder materials. Journal of Material Science,  Vol 25, 3688-3692.

Leahy, J.J., J.A.G. Drake, C. Birkinshaw, 1990 Thermal Ageing of peat    Bitumen,  Fuel, Vol 69, 787-789.

Leahy J.J., C. Birkinshaw; 1992 Chemical and Physical structure of Peat Bitumen. Journal of Chemical Technology and Biotechnology.. Vol 53, 57-65.

Published conference Proceeding Papers

O Neill,P., C. Birkinshaw, JJ Leahy, 1996 Oxidation of irradiated Ultra high molecular weight polyethylene 21st Polymer Degradation Symposium (RSC)  University of Warick Sept. 1996.

Leahy, J.J., J.A.G. Drake, C. Birkinshaw, I.L. Jamieson, 1989 Chemical and Rheological Characterisation of Peat Bitumen and Blends with Petroleum Bitumen. Proc. of 4th Eurobitume Symposium, Madrid.

Hughes, M.A., Drake, J.A.G., Webb, S, Leahy, J.J., Babington, R.J.; 1989,  Proc. International Symposium on Peat.  Bemijia, USA.  pp360-369.

Leahy, J.J.,  J.A.G. Drake, C.Birkinshaw,  1990 Structure Property Relationships in Peat Bitumens Proc. Conf. on Peat production and use. Jyväskylä, Finland, 262- 268.

Howard-Hildige, R., S. Condon, J.J.Leahy, 1995, Emissions from two compression ignition diesel engined  vehicles running on mineral and rapeseed  oil based fuels. Air pollution III, Porto Carras Greece Sept.1995. Published by Computational Mechanics Publications.

O’Neill, P., C. Birkinshaw , J.J. Leahy, 1999, Ageing characteristics of g irradiated  ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene. Int. Conf. On Ageing Studies & Lifetime Extension of Materials, St Catherine’s  College, Oxford, UK 12th-14th July.

Lyons, E , J.J. Leahy 1999, Ageing Study of Air Activated Adhesives. Int. Conf. On Ageing Studies & Lifetime Extension of Materials, St Catherine’s  College, Oxford, UK 12th-14th July.

Current Projects

JJ is mostly involved in the following projects:


Carbolea is co-ordinating a large FP7 project that involves close collaboration between 13 partners, 7 from Latin America and 6 from Europe. The focus of this project is on the sustainable production of diesel miscible biofuels from the residues and wastes of both regions.





Bio-Oil Production Characterisation and Upgrading

Bio-Oil is being produced via fast and slow pyrolysis from various feedstocks, including municipal and agricultural wastes and energy crops such as Miscanthus. These bio-oils are then characterised via a variety of analytical methods. Various routes for upgrading the quality of these bio-oils are also being investigated.





Design and Operate a Pyrolysis/Gasification Unit

A laboratory scale pyrolysis/gasification unit has been designed and built. This facility will shortly be operational at Carbolea and will be used to process a variety of residues, wastes and dedictaed agricultural crops..




Recent News Articles

Oct 6, 2009

Project Update: Bio-Oil Production and Upgrading

The webpage detailing our work on the produciton and analysis of pyrolysis bio-oils from various feedstocks has been updated. Recent material includes observations concerning the upgrading of these bio-oils through esterification with alcohols. Fergus Melligan and Witold Kwapinski and the personnel with most involvement in this project, the updated material can be found here.



Oct 6, 2009

Research Areas Update: Pyrolysis and Gasification

The webpage explaining the background to pyrolysis and gasification, two key areas of research at Carbolea, has been expanded today. Figures have been added to illustrate these thermochemical processes and a diagram of the bench-scale slow pyrolysis unit has been included. Witold Kwpainski and JJ Leahy are the persons with most involvement in this area. More details can be found on the appropriate webpage.


Oct 5, 2009

Project Update: Gasifier/Pyrolysis Reactor Design

The webpage detailing our work, on the design and construction of a pilot-scale 10kg/hr pyrolyser/gasifier here at the University of Limerick has been updated. Witold Kwpainski and JJ Leahy are the persons with most involvement in this project. More details can be found on the appropriate webpage.


July 8, 2009

DIBANET Kick-Off Meeting

July 8th saw the official kick-off meeting for DIBANET, the new FP7 project co-ordinated by Carbolea. Many of the partners attended with a large contingent from Latin America making the journey. The day started with a welcoming and introduction to the University followed by a series of presentations by each partner detailing their capacities and roles in DIBANET (pictured, left). Very conductive disucssions then followed in seminar sessions and the networking continued late into the night with a traditional Irish Banquet in nearby Bunratty Castle (pictured, right). The following day many attendees were brought to see the marvels of the Cliffs of Moher, a tourist attraction near to the University.







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