Reducing reliance on fossil fuels is essential to allow the UK to establish a low carbon economy, and meet international targets for reducing emissions. Industrial biotechnology (IB) uses biological processes and resources for non-food applications, such as generation of high value chemicals and biopharmaceuticals, or new materials for medical applications. In Cambridge, multidisciplinary research teams across the University are pioneering novel methods that will underpin the development of the bio-based economy. These include projects on metabolic modelling to enhance production of antimicrobials, reprogramming of plant development and morphogenesis by synthetic biology, and enzyme evolution for optimisation of biocatalysis. Other examples involve biophysical and mathematical approaches to understand behaviour of individual microbial cells in order to reduce energy inputs into industrial cultivation, or novel ways of harvesting and processing.
Bioenergy will make a major contribution to renewable energy production in the future, but research is needed to reduce the costs of these processes and to increase the scale of production. The Bioenergy Initiative at Cambridge encompasses research groups not just in biosciences but also physical sciences, engineering and mathematics, and is also part of a larger Energy@Cam strategic initiative. Projects include those addressing the study of plant cell walls for lignocellulosic ethanol production, algae for bioenergy and remediation of waste-water and CO2 emissions, as well as artificial photosynthesis.
Examples of PhD projects in Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy available in previous years can be found here.