Dr Constantinos Theodoropoulos and Professor Colin Webb from the School of Chemical Engineering and Analytical Science are the recipients of the 2011 IChemE Innovation and Excellence Award for Bioprocessing.
They received the award for their work on 'Sustainable biorefineries through the co-production of fuels and chemicals: The biochemical production of succinic acid from biorefinery glycerol". The IChemE awards took place last month at the ICC in Birmingham.
The rise of biorefineries has led to a worldwide surplus of glycerol, the main byproduct of biodiesel production, and prices have dropped significantly.
Current markets cannot absorb the predicted increase in glycerol as demand grows for biodiesel, so new uses must be found. One option is turning it into commodity chemicals.
The academics, along with their research groups at The University of Manchester, found that a bacterium, Actinobacillus succinogenes, can convert glycerol into succinic acid, used in a variety of products from medicines to food flavours to plasticisers.
The team studied A. succinogenes under a variety of conditions and nutrients and developed predictive computational models for the process and for relevant integrated biorefinery designs.
This process will add significant value to this byproduct stream leading to the construction of integrated biorefineries with significantly-improved economic sustainability, which co-produce fuels and chemicals.
University of Manchester Intellectual Property (UMIP) funded the development of the scale-up of the process through its Proof-of-Principle (PoP) funding programme and has protected the intellectual property by patent filing.
Dr Theodoropoulos said: "We are very happy to have won this notable award, for our research, which combines experimental and theoretical biotechnological advances.
"We are continuing our work towards the commercialisation o
|Contact: Daniel Cochlin|
University of Manchester