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York University Opens BDC to Support Development of Renewable Chemicals

Published on 2012-07-12. Author : SpecialChem

The University of York has opened a Biorenewables Development Center (BDC) to optimize bio-based chemical production.

The BDC integrates modern genetics with green chemistry and processing techniques to create renewable chemicals and materials. It will support industry in developing manufacturing technologies that use plants, microbes and biowastes as the raw materials for high value products.

The open-access facilities bridge the gap between the laboratory and industry, providing companies and academia with a way to test, develop and scale up biorefining processes. The unique feature of the BDC is that it can also use molecular breeding to rapidly improve plants and microbes as raw materials for these processes. This creates the potential to source high value chemicals from plants by developing novel crops or improving those already in use.

Expansion of the Center has been supported with £2.5 million from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).

Business Secretary Vince Cable said: "This new Center will strengthen the UK's position as a leader in the exploitation of high-value chemicals from renewable sources. It will also help UK companies to access and capitalise on the global growth potential from these new technologies and products."

"This investment by BIS is a reflection of the facility's national significance and unique capability," explains the Center's director Dr Joe Ross. "The Biorenewables Development Center will greatly expand the opportunities for industry to source its raw materials from plants and microbes."

The BDC has also been supported by investment from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), part of a major infrastructure project led by SCY to extend the assets and strategic potential of York as a leading Center for science and innovation.

The BDC has already initiated a range of projects including work on a project to help a small company turn industrial waste into valuable chemicals, with the help of specially-developed strains of the mould, Aspergillus.

"Our aim in establishing the BDC is to help make the UK a world leader in the production of high value chemicals from plants and microbes by combining academic excellence from the University of York with industry capability," says Professor Ian Graham, Chair of the BDC board.

Professor Brian Cantor, Vice-Chancellor of the University of York, says: "The BDC illustrates how world class research undertaken at the University can help to generate new and sustainable products, processes, jobs and businesses."

"The new BDC facility will help regional businesses access world-leading research capability and process technology at a scale to accelerate new product discovery and business growth" says Professor Nicola Spence, CEO of SCY.

"The BDC's location in the Bio Center will maximize its important linkages with the Green Center of Excellence and the Center for Novel Agricultural Products, both of which are located next door on the University of York campus," says Tracey Smith, Managing Director, York Science Park.

The BDC is based at the University of York, within the York Science Park Bio Center, providing access to state-of-the-art facilities and business support services. The BDC builds on internationally-recognized scientific expertise from the University of York in the Center for Novel Agricultural Products and the Green Chemistry Center of Excellence.

About University of York

In less than 50 years, York has become one of the top ten universities in the UK for teaching and research - and is ranked in the top 100 universities in the world. There are now over 30 academic departments and research centres and the student body has expanded to 13,000.

Source: University of York

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