Project: Research council

Project Details


Today's industrial economy is built largely on the petrochemical industries that provide us with the fuels, chemicals and materials that we consume. The petrochemicals sector is worth around £50b to the UK economy each year, but is unsustainable due to the impacts of net carbon emissions on the environment. Global commitments to move to a carbon-neutral economy by the middle of the century mean that we need to find sustainable resources to replace petroleum. Non-food biomass, such as crop residues and food waste, can provide a renewable carbon-neutral resource that can provide the energy rich carbon chemistries needed for the provision of fuels, chemicals and materials. The Biomass Biorefinery Network (BBNet) will serve as a focal point to build and sustain a dynamic community of industrial and academic practitioners working together to develop new processes for the conversion of non-food biomass into sustainable fuels, chemicals and materials. BBNet will bring together scientists and businesses with interests in biorenewable products and provide small scale research funding to help initiate new collaborations and pump-prime new research areas. BBNet will encourage early-career scientists to get involved in the biorefinery sector through funding competitions and workshops.

BBNet will serve as a focal point to drive forward the UK's bio-based sector and help make the UK the most attractive place for international companies to develop the technologies to underpin the new industrial sector. The network will commission reports that will provide information and intelligence on new areas of opportunity in the biorefinery sector. BBNet will serve as a voice for the business and academic sectors and engage closely with government policy makers to ensure they understand the potential benefits offered by carbon-neutral biorenewable products in both economic and environmental terms. We will commission a survey of relevant UK and international companies to see what factors would enable sector development and make the UK a more attractive place to develop their businesses in the biorenewables sector.

The translation of scientific knowledge into commercial processes requires the ability to up-scale processes and demonstrate their techno-economic viability. The UK is developing a network of enabling capability through the BioPilots UK, which encompasses regional open-access biorefinery facilities in Wales, York, Teesside and Scotland. BBNet will work closely with Biopilots UK and develop funding competitions that allow industrially relevant innovative processes to be tested at scale to help build business opportunities.
Effective start/end date1/04/1931/03/24

Collaborative partners

  • University of Bath
  • University of York (lead)
  • University of Reading
  • Scottish Association for Marine Science
  • Aston University


  • Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council

RCUK Research Areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Bioenergy
  • Biochemistry and physiology
  • Microbial sciences


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