Supervisor: Prof Martin Tangney, Edinburgh Napier University
Sponsoring Company: Celtic Renewables Ltd
PhD Student: David Green
Butanol is produced biologically via the Acetone-Butanol-Ethanol (ABE) fermentation. Once one of the largest biotech industries in the world, it declined due to an inability to compete with the oil industry. However, it is now being re-developed to produce butanol as a next generation biofuel.
Substrate cost is a key consideration and in this context the exploitation of by-products of the Scottish malt whisky industry is a new and exciting development. The process (patent-pending) is currently being scaled up for industrial implementation. However, as the current fundamental understanding of the metabolism of the bacteria involved is limited, there is a unique and exciting opportunity to learn more about these organisms in parallel with the Celtic Renewables Ltd industrial scale-up activities. Furthermore, traditional ABE substrates (eg wheat), are rich in glucose, but crucially the unique combination of whisky by-products (draff and pot-ale) is depleted in glucose and no large-scale studies have been published using a glucose depleted industrial growth substrate.
This makes the subject matter of this ETP studentship entirely novel with the potential to generate a wealth of new data and the opportunity to make genuine advances that will contribute significantly to fundamental knowledge of this internationally re-emerging industrial process.