Perlemax is led by a small but focused team.

Pratik D Desai, MEng (1st hons) Chemical Engineering with Fuel technology, PhD (Chemical Engineering), Technical Director

Dr Desai leads the strategic and tactical needs of the organisation and has technical oversight over all the technical projects within the organisation and directing its R&D activities. He has expertise in microbubble generation, fluidics, is a co-inventor of Desai-Zimmerman Fluidic Oscillator (for generating microbubbles), and has led pioneering work on hot microbubble injection in thin liquid layers including scale up. Pratik has extensive experience in microbubble generation, visualisation, fluid dynamics, non-equilibrium thermodynamics and associated phenomena, fluidics and reaction catalysis. He has worked on/working on lab scale and scale up of 4 different pilot plant processes developing several new technologies. He has designed disruptive solutions to conventional unit operations (microbubble distiller/condenser, microbubble stripper, and microbubble sorption) and translated them from blue-sky research ideas to POC and pilot scale within 2 years. He has also managed several projects and led technical innovations including implementation of microbubbles for ammonia-water- carbon dioxide reaction dynamics and catalysis, bioethanol production and separation, bioreactor design, bagged microbial reactors, fermenters, aquaculture, anaerobic digestion enhancement, foam dynamics, CO2 capture and sequestration–with Ionic liquids, MEA, and mineral carbonation, biodiesel production, micro/nanobubble drug delivery, large scale waste water unit, and WWA-self actuated wastewater aeration unit.

Dr Desai has also worked on microbial and algal based engineered communities in order to selectively uptake heavy metal ions from waste streams as well as algal growth and bioreactor development. Following on that, he is working on the ‘Waste Factory’- a concept developed by Desai in conjunction with Prof. Zimmerman which works towards a cascading circular economy approach in order to remediate waste and generate products; converting liabilities and remediating the waste streams into valorised products and energy- DZ MMARP. He has demonstrated each process in this cycle on the lab scale as a PoC and is leading a £1.5Mn application with academic and industrial partners in the UK and India. He is sole inventor of an energy efficient micro/nanodroplet generation method, a method for enhancing glycosylation, developed an artificial smog method for solid particulate separation, Desai Crystallisation scheme, novel growth enhancement via foam based scaffolds, and a novel gas enrichment processing solution. He is lead technologist/lead/co-lead on grants/projects totaling £6.47Mn (overall £14.21Mn). He has successfully run an internship scheme with over 200 members comprising of assistant professors, postdoctoral researchers, doctoral candidates, process engineers, M level, and UG students from across the world. He has consulted/consulting over 45 companies/industrial collaborators and prior to this has also been a management consultant with extensive experience in process improvements and operational excellence. He was a finalist for the IChemE Global Awards 2017 for the Young Researcher Award. His project on Anaerobic Digestion with biogas sweetening is a finalist for the ADBA global awards for best research project and has been highly commended (2nd/~200 nominees). He sits on the boards of directors of two other companies.

Michael Hines, BSc MSc PhD AMIChemE, Chief Engineer

Michael studied Chemical Engineering and Science, majoring in Biochemistry at the University of Queensland, Australia between 1998 and 2002. An Honours degree in Biotechnology followed the next year. After a brief venture into Cancer Bioscience at AstraZeneca, UK he returned to UQ to attain his PhD in Chemical Engineering on Hematopoeitc stem cells and microfluidics, 2006 to 2010. In 2010 he joined ACAL Energy, a small R&D firm developing a novel PEM type fuel cell. Here, using multiphysics modelling packages, CAD design and process intensification techniques the performance of the gas-liquid contacting reactor at the heart of the system was substantially improved. During this time he co-authored two patents. In 2014 he joined Jacobs Engineering where he was seconded into United Utilities, working on troubleshooting and optimisation of the sludge train of the regions wastewater treatment plants. Since joining Perlemax at the beginning of 2016 he is focussed on implementing microbubbles for the enhancement of bioethanol production, aquaculture, anaerobic digestion enhancement and energy efficient wastewater treatment aeration.

Graeme Hitchen, Managing Director

Graeme has worked with the Perlemax technology since its inception first when working with Sheffield University Enterprises Ltd and latterly as a director. He comes from the technology sector and has helped several new companies to start up.

Graeme was educated at the University of Sheffield and received his MBA from the University of Bradford.

Will Zimmerman BSc MSc PhD CEng FIChemE, Founder, Chairman of the Board

Will holds the Chair of Biochemical Dynamical Systems at the University of Shffield. He is a graduate of Princeton and Stanford Universities in Chemical Engineering, the author of over 130 scientific journal articles, past Director of the M Sc in Environmental and Energy Engineering, and a winner in US and UK national competitions of five prestigious fellowships. He has been lead technologist, principal or co- investigator in research projects worth over £18m since 1994.

Creative inventor of low energy fluidic oscillator driven microbubbles (patent awarded 2012) and plasma microreactors (patent awarded 2013) vested in Perlemax, a Faculty of Engineering spinout company from the University of Sheffield.

Algae Growth & Harvesting

Investigate the feasibility of growing microalgae using CO2 rich steel plant exhaust gas.


Analyze the use of novel micro bubble technology to improve energy efficiency and minimise the environmental impact due to the Aquaculture industry.

Anaerobic Digestion

Explore how Perlemax is perfecting a method to break down plant and animal materials by microorganisms in the absence of oxygen.


Examine how our new Ozone Generators can save 80-90% energy costs compared to the traditional generators.

Waste Water Treatment

Analyze the use of novel micro bubble technology to improve energy efficiency for the Waste Water Treatment industry.