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Reference Number BB/L013835/1
Title Anaerobic Digestion Network
Status Completed
Energy Categories RENEWABLE ENERGY SOURCES(Bio-Energy, Other bio-energy) 90%;
Research Types Basic and strategic applied research 100%
Science and Technology Fields BIOLOGICAL AND AGRICULTURAL SCIENCES (Biological Sciences) 40%;
ENGINEERING AND TECHNOLOGY (General Engineering and Mineral & Mining Engineering) 20%;
UKERC Cross Cutting Characterisation Not Cross-cutting 50%;
Sociological economical and environmental impact of energy (Environmental dimensions) 30%;
Other (Energy technology information dissemination) 20%;
Principal Investigator Professor C (Charles ) Banks
No email address given
Faculty of Engineering and the Environment
University of Southampton
Award Type Research Grant
Funding Source BBSRC
Start Date 19 March 2014
End Date 18 March 2019
Duration 60 months
Total Grant Value £705,651
Industrial Sectors Transport Systems and Vehicles
Region South East
Programme Networks in Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy (NIBB)
Investigators Principal Investigator Professor C (Charles ) Banks , Faculty of Engineering and the Environment, University of Southampton (99.999%)
  Other Investigator Prof O (Orkun Soekmen ) Soyer , School of Life Sciences, University of Warwick (0.001%)
Web Site
Objectives The Anaerobic Digestion Network has been specifically planned and designed to achieve the following impacts:
- It will lead to major improvements in interaction between the key players in the field of anaerobic biotechnology. This sector is currently fragmented, with poor links both between research disciplines (fundamental/applied, upstream/downstream) and between the academic and business communities. The latter represents a particular challenge due to the high proportion of SMEs with little expertise in making use either of research output or of the various sources of UK and EU funding designed to provide access to research. The Network activities and resources are explicitly design to address these issues and the level of interest already shown indicates a high likelihood of success from this timely initiative.
- It will facilitate a step-change in integrated cross-disciplinary research involving biosciences, biochemistry and engineering in combination with marine and agro-technologies and environmental and social sciences. These interactions will initially be promoted through the interlinked working groups, and subsequently through the preparation of joint project proposals and formation of consortia to address major research challenges in the field.
- It will make a major contribution to establishing the UK as an internationally recognised partner of choice in the area of anaerobic biotechnologies. This will be achieved both by the formation of a unique interlinked community of scientific expertise; and by promotion of high-level interaction with a spectrum of leading international scientists on the International Advisory Group.
- In particular, it will showcase UK expertise in research utilising genomic, systems biology and synthetic biology approaches; while also driving forward the research agenda in these areas by creating an ideal locus for the identification of links between genetics and functionality, supported by the two-way flow of data between 'deep science' approaches and pilot or full-scale industrial practice.
- It will provide a significant boost to innovative cross-disciplinary research through the provision of proof-of-concept funding to stimulate the exploration of new ideas and the generation of initial data as a basis for constructing competitive research funding proposals
- It will facilitate the construction of high-quality full-scale consortium proposals to a range of national and international funding sources, including the IBBE Catalyst and the EU Horizon 2020 programme.
-It will promote knowledge exchange and the translation of research from fundamental science to practical applications in the field of applied biotechnology, creating business opportunities for industry and SME partners to develop novel bio-based products and provide process control tools based on new concepts of metabolic functionality.
- It will provide a source of evidence and expertise in support of UK and EU policy in the fields of industrial biotechnology and bioenergy, through the direct participation of bodies such as the Environment Agency (EA), the Waste and Resources Action Programmme (WRAP) and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).
- It will support the personal development of Network members at all levels, by providing opportunities for interaction between industry and academic researchers, and creating lasting links (both nationally and internationally) between different disciplines and communities.
Abstract The Network addresses scientific and technical challenges in the development of anaerobic biotechnology, drawing on the expertise of leading academics underpinned by new tools and concepts. As well as enhancing the performance of anaerobic digestion (AD) as a second generation bioenergy process, these open up new areas of application in the creation of value-added bio-based products, widening the process scope to a biorefinery. The Network promotes the use of meta-omic approaches to explore systems biology and community structure, and map its metabolic function. By these techniques a fundamental understanding of interactions related to product groups can be achieved, leading to the development of a synthetic biology with enhanced functionality and control. Scientists using these techniques will be able to develop hypothesis-driven research, in conjunction with engineering academics who will be faced with the practicalities of design and operation of such systems. Key challenges include the creation of alternative products from the intermediate VFA pool generated in the conventional AD process. Concepts such as bioelectrochemical harvesting, reductive hydrogenation and chain elongation and formation of PHA polymers create the prospect of advanced liquid fuels and bioplastics by innovative manipulation of metabolic pathways. Bio-molecular tools open up the possibility of improved diagnostics and advanced on-line process control, topics of immediate interest to industry. The Network is expansive and includes a knowledge base on alternative biomass sources. Process technologists are thus brought together with plant breeders, algologists, and soil scientists to develop sustainable feedstocks, either directly or using innovative pre-treatments. The technical agenda will be formulated by industry/academic working groups funnelling information and suggestions to steering and international advisory groups, who will sift these for areas in which major advances can be made.
Publications (none)
Final Report (none)
Added to Database 01/12/14