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No Time to Waste

Industrial biotechnology is the use of biological resources (including plant, algae, marine life, fungi and micro-organisms) for producing and processing of materials, chemicals and energy. The application of Industrial Biotechnology is now recognised as one way in which we can combat climate change and improve the sustainability of manufacturing through reducing waste and reducing the use of polluting chemicals. The development of more efficient processes incorporating products produced using Industrial biotechnology also helps to reduce the energy required in manufacturing as well as reducing the use of harmful chemicals.

At Warwick we have been focussing on how it can be used to increase agricultural yields hence increasing biomass production while reducing associated carbon emissions. We are also using it to transform the resulting agricultural waste into chemical feedstocks in order to substitute these for petrochemical based products. The talk focussed on environmental processes and technologies and the manufacture of products that might form the foundations of a sustainable bio-based economy.

Dr Guy Barker 

Director of the Genomics Resource Centre in the School of Life Sciences, University of Warwick

Associate Professor and Director of the Genomics Resource Centre in the School of Life Sciences and co_lead for the innovative manufacturing GRP at Warwick. Minimising waste and maximising output is important in any Industry and he is using biotechnology to deliver economic and eco-friendly solutions to some of the problems industry face. He regards sustainability as a goal to be strived for in all production and manufacturing. Guys research interests span the divide between pure to applied research. Understanding genetic organisation including the genes and mechanisms underlying feedstock diversity for example, has allowed him to study how varying the compositions of products harvested from plants can be utilised. This has included recently developing a novel approach for the recovery of bio-energy from ligno-cellulolytic waste and optimising the recovery of antimalarial drugs. Within the UK he has worked closely with the Industrial Biotechnology Leadership Forum and Innovate UK to encourage its adoption. His other interests include studying natural diversity in crops and how this can be utilised for both crop improvement and waste reduction.