Optimising energy output and biorefining

Project: Externally funded research

Project Details


The aim of the project is to characterise Miscanthus and other energy grasses for processability, digestibility, fermentability and potential for recovery of high value co-products. An important aspect of the studies will be the harvesting and stabilisation of biomass. Stabilised biomass will be screened for saccharification potential prior to fermentation to biofuels and platform chemicals. A mapping family will be identified and used to map QTL for biorefining traits. We will investigate the practicality of harvesting Miscanthus biannually, assess the fermentability of green material, and identify co-products with commercial potential while observing the effects on yield and long-term sustainability. Work on the biotransformation of feedstocks will provide a more coherent picture of how grass composition and morphology affect digestion and fermentation. An alternative strategy to the exploitation of natural variation is to transgenically manipulate grasses to facilitate downstream processing. To do this we will exploit post harvest/ senescence promoters and cellular targeting sequences to express genes with industrial biotechnology potential. We will also develop a toolkit involving the synthesis of enzyme substrates linked with chromophores for the rapid screening of cell-wall degrading enzymes in diverse germplasm and manipulated plants. To maximise the commercial value of energy grasses, high value compounds will be identified (e.g. using LC-ESI-MS/MS and 2D NMR) with potential applications in the pharmaceutical, cosmetic, agricultural, food and non-food industries.
Effective start/end date01 Apr 201231 Mar 2017


  • Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council: £6,415,272.00

UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This project contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 2 - Zero Hunger
  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 6 - Clean Water and Sanitation
  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy
  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 9 - Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land


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