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Co-production of knowledge in the Case of the Granbio Advanced Bio-refinery in Alagoas, Northeast Brazil

This project is funded by the British Academy Knowledge Frontiers call for International Interdisciplinary Research Projects. The research considers the environmental and social considerations in biofuel developments and brings together colleagues from across the University, including Education, Chemistry, Environment, Biology, and Politics and is a collaboration with the University of São Paulo in Brazil.   

The creation of enzymes for a bioethanol-from-cellulose reactor, presents innovative solutions to the global need for sustainable fuels. The implementation of these technologies and associated infrastructure raises questions about how it can be developed in ways that simultaneously address broader environmental and social justice goals. This research brings together lay and academic communities in order to co-produce knowledge to inform further developments aimed at meeting energy demands in developing economies. Through reflection upon the assumptions that inform mainstream approaches to development, the research team will engage in interdisciplinary dialogue between social and natural scientists involved in development research. It will thus interrogate the questions, priorities and criteria used when new technological developments are proposed. A case study of the first operational advanced (second-generation) biorefinery in Brazil will investigate decision-making processes from a range of stakeholder perspectives, including those of rural farming communities. The findings will inform decision-making in relation to nascent bio-refinery projects.

The overarching objective of the research is to enhance future chemistry research and policy understanding of the challenges involved in meeting the competing targets of the Sustainable Development Goals. We aim to understand how previous scientific interventions in bio-energy development prioritized criteria of assessment and framed desirable development outcomes, and to open and facilitate interdisciplinary dialogue which explores social and ecological complexity from different theoretical perspectives. In the second phase of the project we aim to examine the processes of implementing advanced bio-refineries and the ways these constrain or foster community participation, with a view to informing chemistry decision-making in the selection of biomass types for bio-refinery development in new contexts. Details of the funded projects can be found here.

Primary Investigators:

  • Dr Eleanor Brown (Department of Education, University of York)
  • Dr Lynda Dunlop (Department of Education, University of York)
  • Dr Kelly Redeker (Department of Biology, University of York)
  • Dr Sally Brooks (Department of Social Policy and Social Work, University of York)
  • Dr Richard Friend (Department of Environment and Geography, University of York)
  • Dr Joshua Kirshner (Department of Environment and Geography, University of York)
  • Professor Jean Grugel (Department of Politics, IGDC, University of York)
  • Professor Paul Walton (Department of Chemistry, University of York)
  • Dr Ana Zimmermann (School of Physical Education and Sport, Postgraduate Programme Faculty of Education, University of Sao Paulo, Brazil)
  • Dr Joao Paulo Franco Cairo (Biochemistry Department, Institute of Biology, University of Campinas, Sao Paulo, Brazil)
  • Dr Fernanda Azevedo Veneu (Laboratory of Scientific Communication and Science Teaching, Celso Suckow da Fonseca Federal Centre for Technical Education, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)  

External Collaborator: 

  • University of São Paulo in Brazil

Funder: 

  • British Academy Knowledge Frontiers 

Contact us

Interdisciplinary Global Development Centre
igdc@york.ac.uk
01904 321042
Department of Politics, University of York, Heslington, York, YO10 5DD, UK
@York_IGDC

Contact us

Interdisciplinary Global Development Centre
igdc@york.ac.uk
01904 321042
Department of Politics, University of York, Heslington, York, YO10 5DD, UK
@York_IGDC