£4M BBSRC FUNDING AWARDED TO UK-INDIA PARTNERSHIPS IN SYNTHETIC BIOLOGY BIOFUELS INITIATIVES£4M BBSRC FUNDING AWARDED TO UK-INDIA PARTNERSHIPS IN SYNTHETIC BIOLOGY BIOFUELS INITIATIVES

14th Nov 2013

Sir Mark Walport, the Government Chief Scientific Adviser, has announced major funding towards sustainable fuels during a visit to India. Over £4M of UK funding, with matched resource from India, has been awarded to four research projects that bring together expertise in sustainable bioenergy and biofuels from both countries.

The funding is a result of the Sustainable Bioenergy and Biofuels (SuBB) initiative funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research council (BBSRC) in the UK and Department of Biotechnology (DBT) in India.

Professor Jackie Hunter, BBSRC Chief Executive, said: "This funding has enabled cross-disciplinary projects that underpin the generation and implementation of sustainable, advanced, bioenergy in order to address the urgent need to find alternatives to fossil fuels."

The announcement was made as a part of Sir Mark Walport's keynote address during RCUK India's fifth anniversary celebrations in New Delhi this week. These new projects form a part of the £150M strong UK-India research portfolio that RCUK India has facilitated since 2008.

Funded projects

The University of Nottingham and the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology will collaborate to engineer enzymes, bacteria and bioconversion processes that will help to produce advanced biofuels from waste rice straw. The project, led by Professor Nigel Minton and Dr Syed Shams Yazdani, will receive £1.4M from BBSRC with matched resources from DBT.

Professor Nigel Minton said: "Rice is the third biggest crop grown in the world and the major staple crop for most tropical nations. Rice straw, left over from rice harvests in large quantities, doesn't have many agricultural uses and so hundreds of millions of tons is burned to dispose of it each year. This is wasteful and polluting, particularly if rice straw could be used to create biofuels."

The team hope to use synthetic biology to design bacterial strains capable of converting the straw into biofuel, after they have develop an enzyme cocktail optimised for deconstructing rice straw into the necessary raw materials for biofuel production.

The other projects awarded funding are:

This article is adapted from a BBSRC press release found here: http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk/news/industrial-biotechnology/2013/131113-pr-sustainable-fuels.aspx