Funding awards set to benefit chemical and material projects

Funding worth £11.8m has been awarded to five projects focused on developing cost-effective methods of producing chemicals and materials from sustainable and renewable raw materials.

EPSRC is providing £10.7m and BBSRC the remaining £1.1m to projects at Bath University, UCL, Imperial College London and Durham University.

The programmes involve university consortia across the engineering, physical and biological sciences working towards alternative ways of supplying chemicals for fuels or industrial use and bringing them into future manufacturing processes.

One project, led by Bath University’s Prof Matthew Davidson, aims to develop a platform for the manufacture of industrial chemicals based on biological terpenoid feedstocks. This is expected to complement carbohydrate-, oil- and lignin-based feedstocks for future chemical-consuming industries.

Another, led by Imperial College’s Prof Tom Welton, aims to replace many of the common materials used as plastics with alternatives created from plants.

In a statement, David Willetts, universities and science minister, said: ‘Scientific research is crucial to developing alternatives to fossil-based resources.

‘The need to develop new chemicals that are both sustainable and viable in our manufacturing processes is pressing.

‘It also presents us with opportunities to use our world-class research base to accelerate the pace of change and deliver scientific and economic impact.’

In addition, in November 2012 EPSRC contributed around £2m to a £20m series of grants announced for synthetic biology that form part of BBSRC’s Strategic Longer and Larger Grants (sLoLas).