Alvin (Dr.Orb), a Senior Lecturer at the Energy Safety Research Institute (ESRI) has a vision is to advance global energy sustainability by developing efficient and equitable materials and methods of transmitting electricity. He develops new ways to produce and use carbon nanomaterials, while building a community of researchers to engage the issue. He aims to impact the environment both locally and globally via a two-fold approach:

  1. Improve the energy infrastructure using carbon nanotubes to transmit electricity
  2. Turn carbon waste into higher-value products such as carbon nanotubes

He completed a PhD at Rice University, USA, on the catalytic growth of single-walled carbon nanotubes. He post-doc'd at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

His research uses a circular economy philosophy to close the loop on the carbon cycle, his motto is to "leave no carbon behind". He is creating technologies to use multiple plastic types, in single processes, that generate higher-value products. His work is displayed at the National Waterfront Museum (From Bin to Bulb) features a user device, and he is the founder of Trimtabs Ltd.

Alvin is an alumnus of Welsh Crucible and Digital Economy Crucible.

To join the group, contact me with your CV and brief statement on how our interests align. Candidates must be eager to learn, willing to fail but not be deterred.

Areas of Expertise

  • Carbon nanotubes
  • Synthesis of ultra long single walled carbon nanotubes
  • Synthesis of carbon nanomaterials for energy distribution
  • Controlled synthesis of inorganic nanomaterials
  • Synthesis of plasmonic nanoparticles
  • Catalytic growth of carbon nanomaterials (single and multi wall carbon nanotubes)
  • chemical recycling of plastics
  • Education of chemistry by use of silver nanotechnology
  • circular economy


  1. Hedayati, A., Barnett, C., Swan, G., Orbaek White, A. Chemical recycling of consumer-grade black plastic into electrically conductive carbon nanotubes C 5 2 MDPI
  2. Barnett, C., Evans, C., McCormack, J., Gowenlock, C., Dunstan, P., Adams, ., Orbaek White, A., Barron, A. Experimental Measurement of Angular and Overlap Dependence of Conduction between Carbon Nanotubes of Identical Chirality and Diameter Nano Letters 19 8 4861 4865
  3. Dee, N., Li, J., White, A., Jacob, C., Shi, W., Kidambi, P., Cui, K., Zakharov, D., Janković, N., Bedewy, M., Chazot, C., Carpena-Núñez, J., Maruyama, B., Stach, E., Plata, D., Hart, A., Orbaek White, A. Carbon-assisted catalyst pretreatment enables straightforward synthesis of high-density carbon nanotube forests Carbon
  4. Barnett, C., Gowenlock, C., Welsby, K., Orbaek White, A., Barron, A. Spatial and Contamination-Dependent Electrical Properties of Carbon Nanotubes Nano Letters 18 2 695 700
  5. Li, J., Bedewy, M., Orbaek White, A., Polsen, E., Tawfick, S., Hart, A. Highly Consistent Atmospheric Pressure Synthesis of Carbon Nanotube Forests by Mitigation of Moisture Transients The Journal of Physical Chemistry C 120 20 11277 11287
  6. Majumder, M., Rendall, C., Eukel, A., Wang, J., Behabtu, N., Pint, C., Liu, T., Orbaek, A., Mirri, F., Nam, J., Barron, A., Pasquali, R., Howard, K., Matteo, P., Orbaek White, A. Overcoming the “Coffee-Stain” Effect by Compositional Marangoni-Flow-Assisted Drop-Drying The Journal of Physical Chemistry B 116 22 6536 6542
  7. Zhao, H., Wie, J., Copic, D., Oliver, C., Orbaek White, A., Kim, S., Hart, A., Orbaek White, A. High-Fidelity Replica Molding of Glassy Liquid Crystalline Polymer Microstructures ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces 8 12 8110 8117
  8. Orbaek, A., Aggarwal, N., Barron, A., Orbaek White, A. The development of a ‘process map’ for the growth of carbon nanomaterials from ferrocene by injection CVD Journal of Materials Chemistry A 1 45 14122

See more...


  • EG-103 Heat Transfer

    The module is designed to provide a basic understanding of heat transfer in Chemical Engineering. Subjects will include: conduction, convection (forced and natural) and radiation. Students will be given a basis for the more advanced study of the subject in other modules. Students will be introduced to process equipment used in industry that deals with heat transfer.

  • EGSM05 Engineering Technology, Innovation and Application

    This module will give students an overview of the role of engineering technology and innovation in society. By understanding the process of technological development, transfer, implementation and commercialisation for different economic and political settings, students will be able to critically evaluate and assess where and how technology could have a positive impact in the context given. Students will develop design concepts in response to a problem defined by industry, utilising appropriate engineering analysis methods and critically evaluate the success of the concept being developed. Students will also consider how technology could be effectively transferred to be managed by stakeholders and commercialisation in long-term strategic development.

  • EGSM33 Appropriate Technologies (ELM Pathway)

    This module will give students an overview of the role of technology in society. By understanding the process of technological development, transfer, implementation and commercialisation for different economic and political settings, students will be able to critically evaluate and assess where and how technology could have a positive impact in the context given. Students will also consider how technology could be effectively transferred to be managed by stakeholders and commercialisation in long-term strategic development.


  • The upcycling of waste materials from the healthcare sector (current)

    Other supervisor: Prof Andrew Barron
  • Engineering for the circular economy. Using nanotechnology to upcycle waste materials into higher value products such as carbon nanomaterials.«br /»«br /»«br /»«br /» (current)

    Other supervisor: Prof Andrew Barron
  • Development cold-wall chemical vapour deposition systems for the growth of carbon nanotubes and carbon fibres. (current)

    Other supervisor: Dr Charlie Dunnill
  • Untitled (current)

    Other supervisor: Dr Darren Oatley-Radcliffe
  • The feasibility of producing hydrogen from onshore wind energy (current)

    Other supervisor: Dr Charlie Dunnill
  • The Effects an Interactions of Multi-Walled Carbon Nanotubes on Low Trophic-Level Freshwater Taxa: Microalgae & Cladocerans (current)

    Other supervisor: Prof Kam Tang
  • Effects of nanofluid on single-walled carbon nanotubes growth during Chemical Vapour Deposition process (current)

    Other supervisor: Dr Ben Evans
    Other supervisor: Dr Ben Evans
  • Towards the development of enhanced CO2 electrolysers (current)

    Other supervisor: Dr Enrico Andreoli

    Other supervisor: Dr Charlie Dunnill
  • Development of a hydrogen fuel cell heat rejection model (awarded 2019)

    Other supervisor: Dr Charlie Dunnill

Academic History

Date Qualification Location
2016 Postdoctoral Associate Massachusetts Institute of Technology
2013 Ph.D Chemistry Rice University
2010 M.A Chemistry Rice University
2006 Certificate International Space University, Strasbourg, France
2003 B.Sc Experimental Physics National University of Ireland Galway

Career History

Start Date End Date Position Held Location
2016 Present Senior Lecturer Swansea University
2016 2019 Sêr Cymru II Fellow Swansea University
2014 2016 Postdoctoral Associate Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
2012 2013 Author John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
2006 2006 Consultant Engineer Centre de Tecnologia Aeroespacial (CTAE), Barcelona, Spain.
2003 2005 Accounts Payable Deloitte (S2G), Barcelona, Spain

Invited Presentations, Lectures and Conferences

Date Description
November 2019 Transcending Incrementalism TI-10, Nuclear Research Centre of Morocco. "Carbon nanomaterials from medical waste"
July 2019 Welsh Crucible panelist. "Creating impact from research"
February 2019 New Zealand Institute of Chemistry, AUT. "Towards the world’s best conductor from a sustainable resource."
September 2018 UK Meeting of Advanced Energy Materials (AEM). University of Surrey, UK. "Carbon nanotube production and electrical conduction".
July 2018 UltraWire 2018 Workshop: Commercialisation of Ultra-Conductive Composites. Kings College, Cambridge. "Upcycling Waste Plastics"
June 2018 KTN: HiPerNano 2018 Nanotechnology for Clean Growth. London. "Upcycling carbon from waste to carbon nanotubes".
November 2017 Dep. Seminar. Advanced Institute of Technology, Uni. Surey. "Towards the potential of carbon nanotubes for electricity wires".
July 2017 5th Nano-Carbon Enhanced Materials Consortium. Cambridge, UK. "Ultra Long Single Carbon Nanotubes"
March 2017 UK Nanotube Collaborative, Swansea, UK. "Ultra Long Single Walled Carbon Nanotubes"
February 2015 Seminar series at the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. Univ of Virginia, USA. "Flow in the field of carbon nanotube growth"
November 2011 University of Saint Thomas, Houston, TX, USA. "Silver nanotechnology"
December 2007 Dept Seminar at Department of Mathematics, NUI Limerick. "Galactic Suite Space Hotel"

Awards And Prizes

Date Description
2013 American Chemical Society Greater Houston Area. "Younger Chemist of the Year Award"
2009 Rice University. "Harry B. Weiser Excellence in Teaching Award"
2005 Irish Government Foras Áiseanna Saothair (FÁS) "Science Challenge Award"

Key Grants and Projects

External Responsibilities

Public Engagements

From Bin To Bulb:

Turning Waste Plastics Into Electricity Wires


Public display from October 2019 until April 15th 2020

National Waterfront Museum, Swansea

This project started at Swansea University and looks at how to turn waste plastic into other usable materials such as carbon nanotubes, graphene and carbon fibre.

We are developing more efficient ways in which to light and heat our homes. We plan to reduce the energy being lost during transmission by using special carbon nanotube wires. These nanotubes are made from things like thin plastic film, black plastic food packaging and liquid solvents. All of these cannot be recycled in our household rubbish.

To see more details about the science behind this technology watch this video tour of the Dr. Orb research group.

More details and updates can be found here:

PhD and MSc projects: Nanoengineering solutions for environmental problems (self-funded)

This is a description of self-funded PhD opportunities that are available at Swansea University’s College of Engineering which are based in the Energy Safety Research Institute (ESRI).

The aim of this project is to positively impact the environment both locally and globally. This will be done by taking carbon waste and turning it into carbon nanotubes (CNTs). CNTs can be used to transmit electricity under a wide range of temperatures, they are much lighter so they offer mass savings, and specialized forms are ballistic conductors which can transmit electricity with near zero loss.

Solid waste products such as plastics can be increasingly difficult to recycle, but they can be repurposed to form CNT electrical conductors. Other waste materials such as carbon dioxide is the most relevant greenhouse gas, and it has also been positively shown to be an effective feedstock for the synthesis of CNTs. They can be formed by either using chemical vapour deposition (CVD) or by using electrochemistry, this allows the researcher an opportunity to explore multiple pathways to success while also developing an expanded set of technical skills.

This project has three goals. Firstly, to explore the full range of materials that will have the greatest impact when used as feedstock for nanotube growth. Second, to improve the conversion rate of waste carbons into carbon nanotubes. Third, to integrate the technology into current industrial standards and practices. Industrial partners, collaborators and stakeholders will be sought in order to increase the impact of this research. The successful PhD student will be expect to present their work at relevant conferences and meetings with stakeholders, and to assist in the publication of journal articles.

There are a range of specializations that can be pursued and will be agreed according to the applicant’s abilities and interests. These specializations range from (but are not limited to):

  • chemical recycling of plastics
  • chemical recycling of rubber
  • chemical recycling of composites
  • conversion of microplastics to carbon nanomaterials
  • conversion of carbon dioxide to carbon nanomaterials
  • conversion of greenhouse gasses to carbon nanomaterials
  • electrical characterization of products
  • design and construction of ancillary devices
  • carbon nanotube amplification and cloning
  • formation of ultralong single walled carbon nanotubes
  • determining the impact of nanomaterials on the environment
  • CFD analysis of fluid behaviour in high velocity laminar flow environments

The details of each specialization can be discussed prior to starting.


Additional details of the work in this group may be found at the following links:



  • Candidates must be eager to learn, be willing to fail, and not be deterred by failure.
  • Candidates will be preferred if they have a first, or upper second class honours or a Master’s degree (with Merit) in a relevant discipline such as mechanical engineering, chemical engineering, chemistry, physics, or a related science.
  • Swansea University is an equal opportunity employer, and we welcome applications regardless of gender, race, or self-identity.



Please note that this is a self-funded PhD project. However, applicants will be encouraged and supported during their PhD to apply for travel grants, fellowships, and any relevant awards or funding that become available.


How to apply:

Informal enquiries about this project are welcome and may be directed via email.

Should you wish to apply then please send the following to Dr Alvin Orbaek White (

  • CV, include details of any current and relevant employment or work experience (also include contact details for a reference)
  • A cover letter stating why the project you are applying for particularly matches your skills and experience and how you would choose to develop the project and in which specialization you are most interested to solve

Black plastic can’t be recycled – but we’ve just found a way to use the carbon

13k readers

Black plastic can’t be recycled – but we’ve just found a way to use the carbon in renewable energy

In this article, I describe our latest scientific work in The Conversation so that it is easily understandable by all readership levels.

Since June until November 2019, this has reached over thirteen thousand readers.

Global Media Interest

Carbon Nanotubes from Black Plasti

Since publishing our scientific article on the use of Black Plastics as a feedstock for the synthesis of Carbon Nanotubes, the following press release generated some global media interest. The article was re-written and republished in 44 other sites of both UK and international websites.


Links to Radio Interviews:

  1. Swansea Sound (Radio) Jul 17, 2019. 0700 [start at 0:02]

  2. Swansea Sound (Radio) Jul 17, 2019. 0800 [start at 0:02]

  3. Swansea Sound (Radio) Jul 17, 2019. 1200 [start at 0:31]

  4. Swansea Sound (Radio) Jul 17, 2019. 1300 [start at 1:22]


List of Media Publications:

  1. Journeying Through the Black Hole of Recycling [ITNOW, Volume 61, Issue 4, Winter 2019, Pages 24–25]
  2. Digital Agenda
  3. Fast Company (USA)
  4. The Engineer
  5. Recharge News
  6. Environment Journal
  7. Big Fuel Daily (Australia)
  8. AzoCleanTech
  9. Machinery Market
  10. Environment Guru (USA)
  11. Indian Express (India)
  12. (India)
  13. ETEnergyworld (India)
  14. Business Standard (India)
  15. The Freepress Journal (India)
  16. (India)
  17. (India)
  18. Devdiscourse (India)
  19. Domain-b (India)
  20. (India)
  21. Koran Jakarta (Indonesia)
  22. (Hong Kong)
  23. Wallstreet (Germany)
  24. (Germany)
  25. Silicon Republic (Ireland)
  26. The International Business Times (USA)
  27. Idea Connection (USA)
  28. British Plastics & Rubber
  29. Medical Daily
  30. Mindzilla
  31. Deccan Herald
  32. ECPlanet (Switzerland)
  33. Omnexus (France)
  34. Design News (USA)
  35. Business News Wales
  36. UmweltDialog (Germany)
  37. (India)
  38. Printed Electronics World
  39. BCS - The Chartered Institute for IT
  41. EGMagPro
  42. Zeenews (India)
  43. UrduPoint (Pakistan)
  44. (South Africa)
  45. Stuff (South Africa)