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Bioresource and Bioeconomy

As a society we can address the global challenges of renewable and affordable energy, sustainable waste management and future food security through harnessing the power of biotechnology and biosciences.

biofuel large

The UK bioeconomy is currently worth £2.2Bn GVA, contributing more than 5 million UK jobs (UK Bioeconomy strategy, 2014). Our aim is to support the growing bioeconomy both in the UK and internationally through:

  • Identifying, mobilising and valorising renewable and sustainable biological resources for energy and materials.
  • Designing, developing and optimising biotechnologies that are environmentally sustainable and commercially viable.
  • Fostering and nurturing newly emerging bio-based industries through tailored support.
  • Maximising the synergy between waste, energy and agricultural sectors by identifying opportunities and integrating supply chains.

The bioresource and bioeconomy research group was founded in 2010 by Professor Lynsey Melville. To date it has attracted over £2.2M of external research income (with a combined project value of more than £20.2M). This transdisciplinary group has a strong commercial focus working alongside some of world’s largest engineering and utility companies as well as supporting SME’s. We also work with partners and stakeholders on projects in the UK, Europe, Africa, India, Indonesia and Bangladesh.

Areas of activity

  • Bioenergy from biomass – Characterisation, pre-treatment/ pre-processing, technology design, evaluation and optimisation, Anaerobic Digestion.
  • Bio-resource mapping and mobilisation –Understanding the nature and availability of resources (GIS based mapping)
  • Bioremediation of water and wastewater– Design, evaluation and optimisation of technologies and processes. • Biomass cultivation/processing (e.g. algae) for energy and high value products and materials.
  • Techno-Economic Assessment/ Life Cycle Assessment of technologies and processes.
  • Socio-technical systems analysis – working with stakeholders and beneficiaries to explore questions of perception & behaviour change.
  • Design and development of decision support systems to encourage supply chain integration and promote wider adoption.

Staff working in this group

Our transdisciplinary team is uniquely positioned to respond to the challenges of growing the global bioeconomy and has a wide range of expertise and experience across various disciplines including; environmental engineering, knowledge engineering and socio-technical science.

Projects

  • Developing community centric sustainable solutions for rural communities in Western Cape South Africa (2019 – present) Funded by Research England’s GCRF QR grant this project explores the opportunities and challenges surrounding the implementation of sustainable energy, waste and water treatment practices within a rural community in Western Cape, South Africa.
  • MacroBio – Sustainable utilisation of Macroalgae in Indonesia (2019-present) Funded by a British Council Newton Fund Institutional Links grant and in collaboration with Brawijaya University in Malang, this project explores the sustainable utilisation of waste macroalgae from aquaculture and agar processing sectors in Indonesia. The project is focused on biomethane production with a case study community in Pulokerto, East Java.
  • ALG-AD – Creating Value from Waste Nutrients (2017-present) Funded by an EU Interreg IVb grant this project explores the opportunities to bioremediate digestate from farm-based AD’s to capture nutrients. The resultant biomass is evaluated for utilisation as animal feed.
  • Design and Optimisation of a Counter Flow Leach Bed Reactor (2017 -2018) This project, funded by BBSRC and in collaboration with an Industry Partner, aims to design and optimise a novel 2 stage AD system for the optimised digestion of food waste. More information on this project can be found Here
  • Biorefinery Advisory Models (BAM) (2016-2017) Funded by BBSRC and in collaboration with Aston University, ReBio technologies Ltd., Croda and BioSyntha. The objective of this BBSRC project is to provide a web-based, user driven, flexible and robust biorefinery modelling system for the Networks in Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy (NIBB) network. More information on this project can be found Here
  • EnAlgae Project (2012-2015) – Funded by the EU Interreg IVb programme this project aims to explore the opportunities for cultivation of algal biomass for bioenergy. Utilising several state-of-the-art pilot plants and assessing process performance, techno-economics, LCA and development of decision support systems for stakeholders.
  • BioenNW Project (2012-2015) -Funded by the EU Interreg IVb Programme the BioenNW project has been put in place to support companies, organisations and local authorities to deliver local bioenergy in parts of the UK, France, Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands. This was achieved through demonstration of small scale (5-10MW) AD and Pyrolysis plants across 5 regions in North West Europe, development of bioenergy support centres and an innovative decision support system to inform decision making.
  • Optimisation of Lipids from Algae (2009-2011) This EPSRC CASE award involved collaboration with 3 industry partners and explored the ultrasonic cavitation of algae biomass for lipid extraction.
  • Integrated Bioenergy for eco-village at Lower Bush Farm (2010) EPSRC Business Innovation Voucher exploring integration of Anaerobic Digestion Technology for treatment of on farm waste with Industry partner Bentley Consulting Ltd.

Commercial Consultancy Projects

In addition to grant funded projects the Bioenergy and Bioeconomy Research Group has also undertaken commercial consultancy projects with industry. Recent examples of these are as follows:

  • Impact of ultrasonic cavitation on Biochemical Methane Potential of Farm Waste Digestate – Pilot scale trials.
  • Impact of ultrasonic cavitation on Biochemical Methane Potential of Farm Waste Digestate – Lab-scale trials. 
  • Impact of Ultrasonic cavitation on the settleability of Dissolved Air Flotation Sludges
  • Impact of ultrasonic cavitation on Anaerobic Digestion of thickened waste activated sludge.