Global Bioenergy, Biofuels and Biorefining Network: GB3-Net

  • Crocker, Mark (PI)

Grants and Contracts Details


Climate change and concerns regarding energy and materials security represent key challenges facing humanity arising from past reliance on now dwindling fossil fuel resources. Overcoming such global challenges necessitates international collaboration to understand regional bioenergy aspects and availability of biomass resources across different continents. Specifically a network is required to facilitate rapid knowledge transfer and implementation of new chemical technologies. We therefore propose to establish a network of excellence spanning bioenergy, biofuels and biorefining, uniting leading experts in sustainable chemical processes, thermal and enzymatic biomass conversion, materials synthesis and techno-economic analysis from the UK, US and China to deliver global solutions to renewable energy and chemicals. Waste agricultural and forestry biomass is an invaluable resource for biorefining, hence we will focus on rice straw valorisation, highly relevant to China and across Asia. Over 250 million tonnes of this crop residue are produced annually, and current practices of on-site burning are detrimental to both the environment and public health.1 An alternative, environmentally benign process to utilise rice straw would thus be highly desirable. Rice straw is silica-rich and therefore incompatible with conventional thermal2 and enzymatic processing,3 presenting a significant technical challenge to new conversion technologies, and logistical challenge to harvesting this distributed resource. Our proposal thus impacts on the energy, climate change and environment theme on two fronts, transforming a plentiful waste resource into (1) an economically-viable, sustainable energy source for transportation fuels, and (2) a sustainable feedstock for the production of organic chemicals, while mitigating emissions of CO2 and atmospheric particulates from burned rice straw. To achieve this vision we have assembled a team of internationally leading scientists and engineers with expertise spanning different biomass processing technologies. Our network will facilitate knowledge transfer at the bio-chemo-engineering interface through exchanges of PhD students, researchers and academic staff between institutions, providing younger researchers with unrivalled access to expertise in biorefining, while instilling an interdisciplinary approach and providing longer term collaborative opportunities. This mobility will also offer students unprecedented access to state-of-the-art research facilities in the partner institutes, building a platform to enhance global research capacity and capabilities in biorefining processes.
Effective start/end date3/31/154/30/18


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