Newton Bhabha Industrial Waste: Integrated biorefinery for converting paper mill waste into chemical wealth (waste-2-wealth)

Lead Research Organisation: University of Manchester
Department Name: Chemistry

Abstract

India is the fastest growing paper market in the world (6% per annum; by 2024-25 Indian demand is projected to increase to 23.50 million MT). However, alongside this trend is the huge amount of industrial waste, especially lignocellulosic material that accumulates as part of this expanding industry. This proposal addresses a number of urgent problems relevant to India, including a) a strengthening of the countries economic position through the emerging bioeconomy, b) the need to tackle major and growing environmental waste management challenges and c) addressing countrywide poverty prevalence through new employment. Our team will develop an innovative biorefinery and commercial strategy to establish a demonstrator platform for the sustainable conversion of paper mill waste into high value chemicals. This platform will be used to drive sustainable expansion through commercial inward investment. This technology will lead to reduction in industrial waste/pollution, and improve value recovery from waste in the paper and pulp industry sector. The proposal will strengthen India's economic position, address major waste challenges and tackle rural poverty. The biorefinery is built from partner expertise in i) valorisation of waste feedstock (India); ii) use of bioengineered strains for fragrance production at industrial levels, and feedstock utilisation (UK); iii) commercial expertise in this market sector (UK/India). The innovation is found in unifying existing technologies to form the biorefinery concept, enabling distributed, green, scalable and sustainable manufacture of chemicals from major paper mill waste streams. The biorefinery will drive inward investment to strengthen India's economic position, address major waste challenges and tackle poverty prevalence through job creation.

Planned Impact

This project will develop sustainable, scalable and cost-effective metabolic engineering routes to chemicals manufacture. It will do this using waste feedstocks that are widely available, both in India and in other LMICs, using metabolic engineered microbial strains. The beneficiaries of the research programme are those in the academic scientific community, especially those engaged in the bioengineering of microbial strains in the IBBE sector and scientists in the bioprocessing/fermentation sectors. Industrial colleagues developing robust hosts for industrial applications for IBBE sector applications will also benefit, especially where scale up costs and ease of process operability are major concerns. On the longer term, the chemicals manufacturing sector will benefit from the delivery of fermentation processes for products for which there are established markets and this will also have major societal benefits (wealth creation; rural employment; environmental benefits).

There are major beneficiaries in the conversion of waste streams (e.g. mill waste) to higher value products / fuels and for the remediation of other biomass (e.g. algal biomass, the control of which is a major problem for many industrial sectors). The motivation is to i) increase capacity in chemicals manufacturing supply with low carbon footprint whilst ii) provide sustainable routes to production, implemented at low capital cost and iii) deliver this vision without reliance on major transport infrastructures. This can be provided through the integrated biorefinery concept that we propose. The technology developed will therefore provide solutions to the multi-faceted challenges of future materials / chemicals supply in developing economies where the utilisation of waste streams can add significant value to manufacturing workflows.

The project will train a new generation of scientists not constrained by discipline boundaries who can bring synthetic biology approaches, bioprocessing and thermocatalytic methods of feedstock degradation together to address grand challenges relating to chemicals manufacture, strategy and implementation. These scientists will be equipped to work seamlessly across disciplines and with collaborating international centres. The project is an innovative science programme led by the economic and social needs of developing countries (in this case India), in partnership with industry, government policy makers, as well as consumers. Project scientists and associated staff will work with experts in Responsible Research Innovation based in the SYNBIOCHEM Centre and Indian NGOs / government groups to ensure that manufacturing practices are informed, ethical and that they satisfy regulatory aspects. This will require input from real-time assessment and anticipation of research and innovation trajectories, deliberation and reflection, and collaborative development.

The project maps strongly into RCUK priority challenge themes and in particular the India waste challenge call. It recognises the need to integrate approaches in biomolecular engineering into wider manufacturing programmes, which is a major driver for the burgeoning bioeconomy.

Publications

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Title Library of secretable cellulolytic enzymes in E. coli 
Description Construction of a library of enzymes to fully degrade cellulose containing variable tags for directing the secretion into the culture medium. 
Type Of Material Technology assay or reagent 
Year Produced 2019 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact Ability to identify and construct a variety of multi-gene constructs to ultimately completely degrading cellulose in multiple microorganisms. 
 
Title Stable production strain for terpene fuel (2020) 
Description Generation of an E. coli strain containing the genes required for the full biosynthesis of a terpene fuel precursor integrated into the chromosome. 
Type Of Material Technology assay or reagent 
Year Produced 2020 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact Increased the commercialisation potential of this strain for terpene-based fuel additive production. 
 
Description W2W collaboration with Indian partners CSIR-IIP and CSIR-NIIST 
Organisation C3 Biotechnologies Ltd
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution This research is a collaboration between the University of Manchester, CSIR-IIP (India) and CSIR-NIIST (India) in association with industrial partners C3 Biotech (UK) and GreenTech (India). The University of Manchester has contributed research towards the grant.
Collaborator Contribution Both CSIR-IIP and CSIR-NIIST have contributed research towards the grant. C3 Biotech and GreenTech are industrial collaborations that have contributed towards the potential commercialisation/IP protection of the processes and outputs gained during this collaboration. In addition, C3 Biotech have contributed research towards this research.
Impact This collaboration is multi-disciplinary. The University of Manchester contributes synthetic biology, molecular cloning and strain engineering techniques to generate optimised strains for chemical production from pulp and paper waste. CSIR-NIIST contributes pulp and paper pre-processing and scalable fermentation design technology to scale up microbial chemical production. CSIR-IIP contributes expertise in lignin processing to generate valuable chemicals from pulp and paper waste. C3 Biotech is contributing expertise in bioreactor design and TEA/LCA analysis of scalable processes, in addition to being the UK partner in IP protection and commercialisation for the project. GreenTech provides contacts within India to establish new collaborations with Indian companies for commercialisation of the project outcomes.
Start Year 2018
 
Description W2W collaboration with Indian partners CSIR-IIP and CSIR-NIIST 
Organisation Government of India
Department CSIR – National Institute for Interdisciplinary Science and Technology
Country India 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution This research is a collaboration between the University of Manchester, CSIR-IIP (India) and CSIR-NIIST (India) in association with industrial partners C3 Biotech (UK) and GreenTech (India). The University of Manchester has contributed research towards the grant.
Collaborator Contribution Both CSIR-IIP and CSIR-NIIST have contributed research towards the grant. C3 Biotech and GreenTech are industrial collaborations that have contributed towards the potential commercialisation/IP protection of the processes and outputs gained during this collaboration. In addition, C3 Biotech have contributed research towards this research.
Impact This collaboration is multi-disciplinary. The University of Manchester contributes synthetic biology, molecular cloning and strain engineering techniques to generate optimised strains for chemical production from pulp and paper waste. CSIR-NIIST contributes pulp and paper pre-processing and scalable fermentation design technology to scale up microbial chemical production. CSIR-IIP contributes expertise in lignin processing to generate valuable chemicals from pulp and paper waste. C3 Biotech is contributing expertise in bioreactor design and TEA/LCA analysis of scalable processes, in addition to being the UK partner in IP protection and commercialisation for the project. GreenTech provides contacts within India to establish new collaborations with Indian companies for commercialisation of the project outcomes.
Start Year 2018
 
Description W2W collaboration with Indian partners CSIR-IIP and CSIR-NIIST 
Organisation Green-tech Ltd
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution This research is a collaboration between the University of Manchester, CSIR-IIP (India) and CSIR-NIIST (India) in association with industrial partners C3 Biotech (UK) and GreenTech (India). The University of Manchester has contributed research towards the grant.
Collaborator Contribution Both CSIR-IIP and CSIR-NIIST have contributed research towards the grant. C3 Biotech and GreenTech are industrial collaborations that have contributed towards the potential commercialisation/IP protection of the processes and outputs gained during this collaboration. In addition, C3 Biotech have contributed research towards this research.
Impact This collaboration is multi-disciplinary. The University of Manchester contributes synthetic biology, molecular cloning and strain engineering techniques to generate optimised strains for chemical production from pulp and paper waste. CSIR-NIIST contributes pulp and paper pre-processing and scalable fermentation design technology to scale up microbial chemical production. CSIR-IIP contributes expertise in lignin processing to generate valuable chemicals from pulp and paper waste. C3 Biotech is contributing expertise in bioreactor design and TEA/LCA analysis of scalable processes, in addition to being the UK partner in IP protection and commercialisation for the project. GreenTech provides contacts within India to establish new collaborations with Indian companies for commercialisation of the project outcomes.
Start Year 2018
 
Description W2W collaboration with Indian partners CSIR-IIP and CSIR-NIIST 
Organisation Indian Institute of Petroleum
Country India 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution This research is a collaboration between the University of Manchester, CSIR-IIP (India) and CSIR-NIIST (India) in association with industrial partners C3 Biotech (UK) and GreenTech (India). The University of Manchester has contributed research towards the grant.
Collaborator Contribution Both CSIR-IIP and CSIR-NIIST have contributed research towards the grant. C3 Biotech and GreenTech are industrial collaborations that have contributed towards the potential commercialisation/IP protection of the processes and outputs gained during this collaboration. In addition, C3 Biotech have contributed research towards this research.
Impact This collaboration is multi-disciplinary. The University of Manchester contributes synthetic biology, molecular cloning and strain engineering techniques to generate optimised strains for chemical production from pulp and paper waste. CSIR-NIIST contributes pulp and paper pre-processing and scalable fermentation design technology to scale up microbial chemical production. CSIR-IIP contributes expertise in lignin processing to generate valuable chemicals from pulp and paper waste. C3 Biotech is contributing expertise in bioreactor design and TEA/LCA analysis of scalable processes, in addition to being the UK partner in IP protection and commercialisation for the project. GreenTech provides contacts within India to establish new collaborations with Indian companies for commercialisation of the project outcomes.
Start Year 2018
 
Description MIB Open Day Stands/Tours 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact At Institute Open Day members of research group presented exhibits on topics of enzyme catalysis, synthetic biology, light activated biology and 'proteins' in general. Also demonstrated use of laboratory equipment on lab-tours run for attending students. Event was well received by both students and their teachers and seemed to inspire interest in the subject.

No defined impacts realised to date
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012,2013,2014,2015,2016,2017,2018