US-UK Biorefining Collaboration

Lead Research Organisation: Aberystwyth University


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Description This travel award facilitated collaboration between researchers from Aberystwyth (IBERS, BEACON) and Bangor (BioComposites Centre) Universities with the National Renewables Research Laboratories (NREL), a Dept of Energy facility in the USA, with a global profile in bioeconomy research. Researchers from IBERS and the Biocomposites Centre visited the NREL site where they worked alongside NREL staff, providing knowledge and expertise in grassland agriculture and participated in the testing and validation of the Biofuel land-use change (BioLUC) modelling programme (Link to the Bioluc model, a system dynamics global model for examining the effect of biofuels production on land use change. This model has subsequently influenced researchers in this area across the USA, Brazil and parts of Asia and is used by academia, industry and government, particularly in the United States to determine policy and research direction. Colleagues from both AU and Bangor as sited in the acknowledgements for their contribution.
During the return visit (September 2014) by two staff from NREL (Danny Inman and Ethan Warner), a workshop was organised by IBERS with representatives from business and the academic community from different regions in the UK. At the workshop, the NREL group demonstrated their Land Use Change (BioLUC) modelling system. The workshop consisted of a series of talks and practical on-site tutorial and demonstration of the model. During their visit to IBERS, discussions were held regarding on-going projects as well as; future trends in biorefining; equipment, type and size that would provide relevant data for scale-up but practical in terms of cost and ease of use; existing bottlenecks in biorefining and how these were being overcome by both institutions and the potential for future funding.
NREL researchers visited Bangor University for three days and met with staff at the BioComposites Centre. In addition they visited the Biorefining-Technology Transfer Centre at Mona, Anglesey where they received a briefing on current collaborative projects receiving support from the Welsh Government, Innovate UK and the EU.
A materials transfer agreement between Bangor University and NREL was signed (2014) and a feasibility study project to assess lignin fractionation and Valorisation, supported jointly by the Welsh and US Governments was approved.
Exploitation Route This model developed will influence researchers in the area of biorefining and bioenergy and will be used by academia, industry and government to determine policy and research direction. It will aid in assessing the potential of agricultural residues and crops for the production of platform chemical and fuels in terms of economic and environmental sustainability.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Chemicals,Creative Economy,Environment

Description The model developed at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), which the grant holder made an acknowledged contribution to, is consulted by a wide range of communities and stakeholders including government departments.
Sector Chemicals,Energy,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology
Impact Types Economic

Description Lignin Fractionation and Valorisation NREL, Bangor
Amount £106,904 (GBP)
Funding ID HE 06 15 1001 
Organisation Government of Wales 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2014 
End 04/2015
Title NREL BioLUC model 
Description The model was developed by NREL to look at environmental and economic impact of utilising crops and residues for the production of biofuels and platform chemicals. 
Type Of Material Computer model/algorithm 
Year Produced 2015 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact This model will be used by academia, industry and government, particularly in the united states to determine policy and research direction. 
Description ADAS visit 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Presentation and discussion with representatives from ADAS as well as people from own institute on using grass as a feedstock for biorefining as well as for animal feed. Through these discussions, it is hoped that information will be conveyed to the farming community and industry.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
Description NREL workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Organised a workshop for the first release of the new NREL life cycle and economic models. Participants from the UK and NREL.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
Description Reed Panel visit 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Discussions with the Reed panel on the positioning of the university with regard to international collaborations in the area of Industrial Biotechnology.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
Description Tour of Beacon facility for NREL 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Visitors from NREL toured the facility and had further discussions relating to future collaborative opportunities

Expected future joint grant proposal
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014