Head and shoulders portrait of Nick Burke

Dr Nick Burke, research group leader, CSIRO Petroleum

Dr Nick Burke: research group leader for natural gas processing and conversion

Dr Burke's expertise lies in chemical engineering and catalytic conversion of natural gas.

  • 26 March 2010 | Updated 14 October 2011

Current activities

Dr Burke leads the CSIRO's Gas Processing and Conversion research group.

The Group's research activities focus on creating more efficient processes to generate synthetic fuels (synfuels) and other substances from non-oil or non-conventional feedstocks (typically natural gas) while minimising the environmental impact of these processes.

It is helping maintain Australia’s energy self sufficiency by developing technology that will make better use of our vast natural gas reserves.

Dr Burke is also specifically responsible for the Improved Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) project.

Dr Burke is responsible for the syngas production project in which natural gas is converted to synthesis gas or syngas.

Dr Burke and his team collaborate with a number of universities and industry partners:

  • The University of New South Wales (UNSW), Sydney, Australia
  • Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  • The University of Tasmania, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
  • Swinburne University, Melbourne
  • Chevron, through the Western Australia Energy Research Alliance (WA:ERA).


Dr Burke joined CSIRO in 2001 as a Postdoctoral Fellow.

Previously, from 1989–1995, Dr Burke held various positions as a chemist in Australia and the United Kingdom.

In 1996 he was a researcher with the School of Chemical Engineering and Industrial Chemistry at the UNSW.

From 2004–07 he was a research scientist with CSIRO, and in 2007 was appointed research group leader for the Gas Processing and Conversion group.

Dr Burke specialises in researching heterogeneous catalytic processes used for chemical transformations of gases and purification of gases by adsorption processes.

Academic qualifications

Dr Burke has completed a:

  • Bachelor of Science with Honours in Industrial Chemistry from the UNSW in 1992
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Chemical Engineering, also from the UNSW in 2001.

His doctoral thesis was entitled Control of Vehicle Cold-start Emissions.


Dr Burke is the author of three patents and several peer-reviewed journal articles and conference proceedings.

He is a recipient of the following awards:

  • One-CSIRO Award for collaboration – syngas production project
  • CSIRO Safety Award – minerals collaborative project.

Dr Burke was involved with the 'New catalytic gas turbine' project. With this project CSIRO developed a process that can co-generate syngas (synthesis gas: a mixture of CO and H2) and electricity by partial oxidation of natural gas using a turbine. The process has been patented and is awaiting field trials.

Find out more about Gas Processing and Conversion: fuel for Australia's future.