After graduating with an Environmental Science Doctorate, I decided to move into the new energy research section. I completed my PhD studies here and have always loved the bubbly atmosphere in the University and in the City of Manchester.
My current role within University of Manchester allows me to transfer most of the skills and experience I had previously gained into my study in Biofuels. One of my dreams is to make a contribution to simultaneously producing Biofuel and reducing the carbon footprint.
Concerns with regard to energy security and environmental protection have focused attention on next generation biofuels. Butanol is considered as an excellent alternative fuel based on its high energy density, suitability for combustion engines, convenience for storage and transportation. Developments in metabolic engineering allow the generation of novel yeast strains that can produce of third generation of biofuels, such as n-butanol, methyl butane and butanediol. These yeast strains have been optimized to not only produce high levels of biofuel but also to carry resistance to the inhibitory effects of toxicity on growth. We assembled a genomic integration system to allow the expression of a series of heterologous genes. This research enables the exploration of yeast as a host for the production of biofuels to high quantities and will ultimately offer optimized high producing yeast strains to the petrochemical and biofuel sectors.
My key responsibilities include:
• Design and execute validate analytical test methods for identification & quantification of intracellular and extracellular metabolites by GC-FID, GC-MS and HPLC.
• To design, optimize and synthesise the biofuel function proteins, construct of artificial metabolic pathways for target organic products.
• Metabolic engineering of host strains to optimize production and yield of target biofuel products.
• Optimize protein efficiency and analyse cellular metabolism in support of strain optimization towards improved performance.
• Participate in project strategy development and implementation, including funding applications, scientific publications and developing intellectual property.
This biofuel project was nominated as one of four finalists for the Innovator of the Year category at the annual New Energy Awards 2012 held at the Science Museum in London. A three year BBSRC funding has been successfully applied based on my research in 2012.
The impact I feel my work will have on future energy landscapes is to contribute to the setting up of commercial-scale advanced biofuels plant.
I believe that networking is one of the most important areas, scientific research needs to develop, only by working together with industry and public sectors, can we create a ‘game changer’ in Energy.