Each year MIBTP has a 10 studentships specifically allocated to research in Renewable Resources and Clean Growth. In our partnership this includes two main areas - Bio-energy and Molecular & Industrial Biotechnology.
Bioenergy is a renewable form of energy generated from materials derived from biological sources.
- Biofuels (fuels which have been derived from biomass). Includes projects aimed at increasing understanding and further exploitation at various levels:
- Improving the growth rates and yields of biological material to be used for biofuel production;
- Addressing the logistical and scale issues of producing and processing biomass feedstock;
- Scientific and technical aspects (including biological conversion, concentration and recovery processes) associated with using biological sources for energy;
- Social, environmental and economic aspects of biofuels production.
- Basic, strategic and applied research into the development and scale-up of sustainable replacement liquid transportation fuels at all points across the bioenergy pipeline:
- Biomass growth→ Biomass composition →Biomass deconstruction→ Biological conversion→ Fuel and associated value-adding chemical co-products
- Translation of research into biofuels and associated value-added co-products.
- Development and/or improvement of enabling technologies relevant to the biorefinery concept1.
- Use of alternative feedstocks, such as algae or municipal waste, or adopting synthetic biology approaches to produce alternative biofuels.
- Growth and development of biomass crops (plants and algae) for direct combustion and electricity generation, fermentation to produce biofuels, or for isolation of oils.
- Underpinning ‘solar’ research such as basic research into photosystems and light harvesting complexes in plants and photosynthetic bacteria where the work is carried out in the context of bioenergy production; excludes fundamental studies on photosystems.
- The production of enzymes capable of degrading lignocellulose, and the direct generation of fuels from microbes and other organisms.
- Replacement of fossil-fuel derived lubricants with plant oils.
- Capture of heat from growth of organisms.
- Bio-derived gases including anaerobic digestion.
Industrial Biotechnology is the use of biological resources for producing and processing materials, chemicals and energy; these resources include plants, algae, marine life, fungi and micro-organisms.
- Biocatalysis and metabolic engineering: Biocatalysis refers to the use of either isolated enzymes or whole cells to carry out chemical reactions. In the IB area, biocatalysis has become a recognised method for performing specific reactions that yield high-value compounds with desired stereochemistry or to produce platform chemicals that are fed into manufacturing processes. Metabolic engineering describes the alteration or overhaul of cellular metabolic systems to change the yield or identity of biological products/metabolites. This includes transfer of specific enzymes or entire metabolic pathways from rare or genetically intractable organisms to those that can be readily engineered (like E. Coli or yeast strains).
- Bioenergy: Bioenergy is a renewable form of energy generated from materials derived from biological sources. Refer to the separate Research Topic entry for a fuller description of bioenergy research.
- Non-food crop/non-food application: Research in this category focuses on the use of crops for purposes other than food supply. Examples include cotton or flax for textile production, seed oils for industrial uses as solvents or lubricants and the residues of food- crops (especially straw) for downstream non-food applications.
- Bioremediation and waste treatment: Bioremediation is the use of biological resources to remove or reduce the prevalence of selected substances from the environment. Research in this area is often directed at using biological processes to overcome environmental problems, such as contamination or waste treatment.
- Process design: Projects in this area aim to develop new equipment for biological processing which can be used by industry. This includes bioreactors as well as the processes which are upstream or downstream of this central fermentation/conversion unit, such as product pre-treatment or separation units. Projects in this category usually have a clear industrial relevance.
- Recombinant Biologics: Recombinant biologics are therapeutic peptides and proteins produced or extracted from biological systems. Biologics often replicate the effects of substances already present in the body, such as signalling proteins and monoclonal antibodies. As these are medical products, they would not normally be captured by UKRI- BBSRC remit; however, projects relating to the production of these substances using biological resources are in-scope for IB due to the potential for technology transfer to other sectors.