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Bioenergy

Bioenergy research within the energy initiative is carried out across a number of departments and research groups at the University of Cambridge.

The activities are coordinated by the Cambplants Hub and research into bioenergy includes:

  • Approaches to the use of algae (including cyanobacteria) for a number of different applications in the biotechnology and bioenergy industry facilitated by the Algal Biotechnology Consortium
  • Lignocellulosic Bioenergy which focuses on utilising parts of food and materials crops that are normally discarded as waste, as well as species that flourish on marginal land with minimal agricultural inputs.
  • Investigating ways of using algae as an energy source in biophotovoltaic panels.
  • Gasification and combustion of biomass fuels with a focus on power generation and CO2 capture.
  • Photosynthetic and biomimetic hydrogen production and CO2 reduction.

 

We collaborate with industrial partners and are also actively involved in increasing both energy awareness and public understanding of the opportunities and challenges in bioenergy.

Please follow the links above for more information on specific areas of expertise and visit individual faculty profiles to learn more about their research in the Bioenergy theme. The lead for Bioenergy is .

People specializing in this area

Principal Investigators

Professor Chris Abell

The use of microdroplets to screen algae for biofuel production and biochemical production.

Professor Nick Collings

Behaviour of biofuels in diesel engines

Dr Douglas Crawford-Brown

Research focuses on the role of bioenergy in low carbon trajectories in the UK and globally, with particular interest in the trade-offs between bioenergy and other issues such as water availability, water quality, crop production, land use, etc.

Professor John Dennis
  • Gasification of lignocellulosic biomass
  • Generation of pure hydrogen from biomass gasification
  • Conversion of biomass to transport fuels via gasification and Fischer Tropsch conversion
  • Upstream and down stream processing of algae for transport fuels
Dr. Laura Diaz Anadon

Understanding uncertainty in future cost and performance, water consumption of fossil fuel extraction technologies, including hydrofracking. Focus on the USA and China.

Professor Paul Dupree

Lignocellulosic bioenergy

Biomass quality: Understanding and manipulating structure and processing quality of fuel lignocellulosic feedstock

Dr Adrian Fisher

The development and application of microengineered fuel cells using biofuels.

Professor Chris Gilligan

Epidemiology and modelling of ecological impacts and disease control

Dr. Julian Griffin

Biomass quality: Understanding and manipulating structure and processing quality of fuel lignocellulosic feedstock

Professor Howard Griffiths

We investigate plant molecular, physiological and environmental processes which regulate productivity and CO2 sequestration, and aim to improve the operating efficiency of the primary carboxylase, Rubisco, and match water availability to use.

Dr. Jim Haseloff

Developing new genetic, optical and software methods for precise monitoring of cell behaviour and engineering of tissues inside living plants.

Professor Julian Hibberd

Understand the most efficient form of photosynthesis used by plants (known as the C4 pathway)

Professor Chris Howe

Algal biology: Improving the flux from photon to fuel

Processing feedstocks to biofuels

Professor Markus Kraft

Biofuel modelling and optimisation 

Professor Peter J Leggo

A new strategy of soil amendment to greatly enhance the scope of plant growth on poor soils.  Using a biofertiliser with coal waste as a substrate has been highly effective in producing enhanced growth and quality in  Miscanthus (Miscanthus giganteus), Osier Willow (Salix viminialis), Maize (Zea maize), Sugar Beet (Beta vulgaris), Oil Seed Rape (Brassica napus) and Linseed (Linum usitatissimum).

Professor Kathryn Lilley

We are carrying out the global characterization of the proteins involved in plant cell wall synthesis.

Professor Stephen Oliver

Functional genomics and systems biology

Professor John Pyle

Numerical models, run on supercomputers, to study the processes controlling the present state of the atmosphere and its evolution

Dr. Erwin Reisner

Solar fuels - we are interested in producing sustainable fuels, in particular hydrogen or carbon-feedstocks from CO2, through artificial photosynthesis.

Dr. Stuart Scott
  • Algal biofuels
  • Sustainability of Energy Systems, including LCA assessments
Dr Keith Seffen

Novel lightweight structures, including seminal work on shape-changing, or "morphing" structures.

Professor Alison G Smith

Algal biodiesel production; carbon capture and remediation by algae; algal synthetic biology; biophotovoltaics

Dr. David Summers

E. coli plasmid biology, bacterial cell cycle control and the bacterial cell factory

Professor William Sutherland

Predicting the impacts of environmental change, especially on bird populations