Industrial biotechnology and exploitation of agri-food waste

The food chain produces a variety of plant-based waste. Our research aims at turning this into sustainable biofuels and other useful chemicals.

Lead scientist: Keith Waldron

Visit the IFR Biorefinery Centre website

Up to 60% of food may be lost post-harvest, at all stages of the food supply chain from farmer to consumer. Minimising this wastage is a key global target, to increase food security and sustainability, However, where waste can’t be avoided, there are significant opportunities to exploit material and waste streams. 

We are using fundamental science and knowledge to find the best ways of turning this waste into valuable products, including ethanol and platform chemicals. This helps to improve the environmental and economic sustainability of the food chain. Our facilities, housed in The Biorefinery Centre, allow us to experiment on the pilot-scale level at all stages of the biorefining process. We also work very closely with the National Collection of Yeast Cultures at IFR, assessing their yeasts for suitability in biorefining processes.

We are combining biochemical, chemical and physical approaches to selectively extract and modify components of plant cells and in particular cell walls. The aim is to exploit these higher value components as functional ingredients for use in nutrition, pharmacology and biofuels.  We are also looking to elucidate and exploit biodegradation and the interactions between microorganisms and plant structure, in the production of next generation composts.

Further information

More information about this area of IFR research can be found on the IFR's Biorefinery Centre's website

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