As the world struggles to reduce carbon emissions, the need to produce sustainable low carbon chemicals, fuels and materials from plant biomass becomes increasingly urgent, but is challenged by the costs of biomass conversion. Large amounts of sugar and phenolics are locked up in the woody, non-food parts of crops and could be used for renewables production without compromising global food security.
We are using advanced genetic tools to improve the quality of biomass feedstock for biorefining and tailoring effective methods for biomass conversion. We use our knowledge and expertise in studying the major polymeric components of plant biomass to reduce the molecular interactions that contribute to its recalcitrance to enzymatic digestion, and develop effective pre-treatments and enzymes for deconstruction.
To identify the key components of biomass recalcitrance we have developed an automated platform that can help identify genes and biomass features that can be changed to improve biomass processing. We have developed a collaborative network with UK partners and international collaborators from Europe, the US, Brazil, India, Vietnam, Philippines, among others, to improve biomass quality and processing in the main crop species across the world.
Professor McQueen-Mason's research encompasses various aspects of lignocellulosic biorefining and biofuels.
Dr Gomez specialises in the use of plants as chemical platforms for the production of biorenewable products.