Kirk Torr


  • Phone: +64 7 343 5378
  • ORCID: 0000-0002-1989-8952
  • Team: Chemistry and Physics
  • Role: Research Group Leader, Chemistry and Physics


Dr Kirk Torr is the Research Group Leader for the Chemistry and Physics Group. He is a organic chemist who currently specialises in lignin valorisation and liquid biofuels research. He leads several Scion projects investigating catalytic and thermochemical processes for converting lignincellulosic biomass into sustainable biofuels, biochemicals and biomaterials. Kirk has research experience in wood modification technologies, lignin-derived carbon nanomaterials, antifungal bioactives and pine bark chemicals.


  • PhD, Organic Chemistry, University of Waikato, New Zealand, 2003
  • MSc (Tech), 1st Class Hons, Chemistry, University of Waikato, New Zealand, 1994
  • BSc, Chemistry, University of Waikato, New Zealand, 1991

Research capabilities

  • Lignocellulosic biorefineries
  • Biofuels and biochemicals research
  • Lignin-first biorefining
  • Lignin valorisation
  • Lignin-derived carbon nanofibres
  • Biobased polymers and resins
  • Fast pyrolysis and catalytic fast pyrolysis
  • Biomass pretreatment for biofuel production
  • Chemical modification and characterisation of biomaterials

Career highlights

2021-present: Research Group Leader, Scion
2020-present: New Zealand Member IEA Bioenergy Task 34
2018-2021: Senior Scientist/Project Leader, Scion
2016-present: Supervisor Scion and VITO Postdoctoral Fellowship Projects
2013-2015: New Zealand Member IEA Bioenergy Task 42
2010-2011: Sabbatical to Joint Bioenergy Institute, USA
2009-2018: Project leader/Scientist, Scion
2003-2009: Scientist, Scion