The green tops of carrots, straw that is currently ploughed back into the ground, wood shavings, the husks from barley grains, even the stalks from grapes can be used to produce ethanol.
The bacteria that produce butanol belong to an ancient group of bacteria called Clostridium.
Nigel Minton, a professor of Applied Molecular Microbiology, and a world expert in the genetic modification of Clostridium bacteria, will be developing a process for the large scale production of butanol by developing microbes capable of converting plant waste into this biofuel.
Butanol has significant advantages over ethanol. It has a higher energy content, is easier to transport, can be blended with petrol at much higher concentrations and even has potential for use as an aviation fuel
Professor Minton said: "We really are focussed on the holy grail of biofuel research developing bacteria that are able to convert non-food, plant cell wall material into a superior petrol replacement, butanol. If you had asked me a couple of years ago, I would have said it was not possible. However, my team have now developed some world beating technologies which will allow us to generate the Clostridium strains required."
The research will be carried out in collaboration with Newcastle University and TMO Renewables Ltd.
Researchers from across the scientific spectrum chemists, engineers, microbiologists, mathematicians and fermentation scientists will be involved in the two research programmes.
Minister of State for Science and Innovation, Lord Drayson, said: "Investing 27 million in this new centre involves the single biggest UK public investment in bioenergy research. The centre is exactly the sort of initiative this count
|Contact: Professor Katherine Smart|
University of Nottingham