Natural Resources and the Circular Bioeconomy



Natural Resources and the Circular Economy

This planet is facing a crisis point resulting from environmental mismanagement and the need to feed a growing population while providing other resources necessary to sustain the economy. Manufacturing is largely based on unsustainable linear production systems that deplete finite resources while generating large volumes of waste that are mostly sent to landfill. A circular economy is a contrasting approach based on closed loop systems that minimise waste by converting it through regenerative technologies keeping resources in use as long as possible. This concept is embedded in the research vision of the IBERS team working in the area of Biomass Conversion and Biorefining, which is to develop new biobased products and processes to advance the transition towards a circular bioeconomy.

The key priorities are:

1) economic and environmental sustainability of biobased products developed through biorefining processes

2) resource use efficiency, including recapture of process water and other components for either retention within the biorefining process system or land reapplication to sustain primary productivity. By using biorefining routes to close loops in agricultural and food production systems, the BCB aims to deliver economically sustainable carbon-neutral solutions that will support societal well-being.

Research & Capabilities

Research Focus and Capability


Our current research programmes at IBERS are focussed on the development and optimisation of enabling technologies combined with bio-process design covering technology readiness levels (TRL) 1 to 5. This involves taking projects from the conceptual stage through to industrially relevant scales, utilising our pilot-scale facilities (e.g. BEACON ( and Aberinnovation (

Specific areas of expertise and capability include:

  • synthetic biology including enzyme and microbial discovery and development (TRL 1-3) 
  • bulk separation and extraction technologies (TRL 2-5); biomass thermochemical and biochemical pretreatment (TRL 2-5)
  • fermentation science (TRL 2-5)
  • anaerobic digestion (TRL 1-3)
  • down-stream processing and purification (TRL 2-5).

We work on multiple feedstocks such as energy crops, agricultural straws, sugarcane bagasse, brewers spent grains, seaweeds, municipal solid waste, potato processing waste, for the production of multiple products for the health food, cosmetic, green solvent, biocomposite, bioenergy and bioplastics/packaging industries.


Research helping to build a circular economy

IBERS researchers are working in a number of areas that will contribute to the development of the circular economy, highlighted areas include:

A) Lactic acid for bioplastic production from municipal solid waste; this work is the culmination of research through a number of funding streams including 2 Innovate UK projects and a Bio-Based Industries Joint Undertaking (Horizon 2020 funding) and includes the building of a demonstration scale facility with tech-transfer from Aberystwyth University.

B) Xylitol from agricultural straws; the biotechnological production of xylitol, a natural sweetener that prevents tooth decay in children, contains »70% the caloric value of table sugar and is compatible with diabetics has been funded by Climate-KIC, through the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), the Welsh Government, Innovate UK, the Plants to Products BBSRC NiBB and the BBSRC and Newton Fund culminating in the launch of an AU spin-out company ARCITEKBIO Ltd to commercialise the technology.

C) Protein and bioactive metabolites from food waste; this work originated from a series of research programmes funded by Innovate UK and Welsh Government.

Projects & Grants

Project / Grants

Main Projects

  • Production of Lactic acid from Municipal Solid Waste. Innovate UK TS/R010544/1 (2018-2021)
  • Bio-loading impact study on downstream hydrolysis and fermentation of autoclaved fibre from the Organic Fraction of Municipal Solid Waste (OFMSW) (BBSRC BBNet BIV) (2020)
  • Biologically Derived Polyesters and Polyamides - Production, Processing and Circular Life (BioPOL4Life). Ser Cymru capacity building acceleration award (WG) (2020-2023)
  • Integrated approach to explore a novel paradigm for biofuel production from lignocellulosic feedstocks. BBSRC/FESPESP (2017-2021), -
  • Valuable insects: Insects for sources of food and ingredients (ValuSect). European Interreg (2021-2023) -


Key Outputs

  • Gallagher J, Lee A, Fish S., Morris SM (2015) Prebiotic Composition– Novel prebiotics from grassland WO2015/075440 A1 European Patent granted.
  • Bryant D, Gallagher J, Morris SM, Winters A, Donnison I, Harding G, Tims-Taravella E, Thomas D, Leemans D (2014) Bioethanol production from high sugar grasses WO2014/023978 Patent Granted
  • Davies D, Merry R, Winters A, Bakewell (2000) An inoculant for the ensilage of plant material comprises at least one Lactobacillus strain having fructan degrading properties.  GB2356125A



  • Biorefining problem macroalgae to produce selected high value products (2018-2021)
  • Genetic manipulation of Lactobacillus to produce pure D or L forms of lactic acid. (2016-2019)
  • How does harvesting of problem macroalgae within Milford Haven affect the ecology of receiving habitats? (2018-2021)
  • Isolation, screening and development of multiproduct stream process to valorise production of bioactive molecules from targeted plant species / Natural Products for Wellbeing (2016-2021)
  • Understanding and Regulating the Genetic Transition of the Yeast to the Filamentous Fungal Phenotype; developing new tools for Industrial Biotechnology and Biorefining (2016-2020)
  • Valorisation of Industrial Hemp waste material through the recovery of secondary compounds with therapeutic properties (2018-2022)

Principal Investigators

Principal Investigators

Picture Name Email Telephone
Dr Jessica Adams +44 (0) 1970 823152
Dr David Bryant +44 (0) 1970 622294
Prof Joe Gallagher +44 (0) 1970 823147
Dr Ana Winters +44 (0) 1970 823207



Bhatia, R, Timms-Taravella, E, Roberts, LA, Moron-Garcia, OM, Hauck, B, Dalton, S, Gallagher, JA, Wagner, M, Clifton-Brown, J & Bosch, M 2023, 'Transgenic ZmMYB167 Miscanthus sinensis with increased lignin to boost bioenergy generation for the bioeconomy', Biotechnology for Biofuels and Bioproducts, vol. 16, no. 1, 29, pp. 29. 10.1186/s13068-023-02279-2
Gallagher, J, Adams, J, Turner, L, Kirby, ME, Toop, T, Mirza, W & Theodorou, M 2021, 'Bio-processing of macroalgae Palmaria palmata: Metabolite fractionation from pressed fresh material and ensiling considerations for long-term storage', Journal of Applied Phycology, vol. 33, no. 1, pp. 533-544. 10.1007/s10811-020-02295-x
da Costa, RMF, Winters, A, Hauck, B, Martín, D, Bosch, M, Simister, R, Gomez, LD, Batista de Carvalho, LAE & Canhoto, JM 2021, 'Biorefining Potential of Wild-Grown Arundo donax, Cortaderia selloana and Phragmites australis and the Feasibility of White-Rot Fungi-Mediated Pretreatments', Frontiers in Plant Science, vol. 12, 679966. 10.3389/fpls.2021.679966
Lange, L, O'Connor, K, Arason, S, Bundgård-Jørgensen, U, Canalis, A, Carrez, D, Gallagher, J, Gøtke, N, Huyghe, C, Jarry, B, Llorente, P, Marinova, M, Martins, L, Mengal, P, Paiano, P, Panoutsou, C, Rodrigues, L, Stengel, D, van der Meer, Y & Vieira, H 2021, 'Developing a Sustainable and Circular Bio-Based Economy in EU: By Partnering Across Sectors, Upscaling and Using New Knowledge Faster, and For the Benefit of Climate, Environment & Biodiversity, and People & Business', Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology, vol. 8, 619066. 10.3389/fbioe.2020.619066
Peechmani, P, Othman, MHD, Kamaludin, R, Puteh, MH, Jaafar, J, Rahman, MA, Ismail, AF, Kadir, SHSA, Illias, RM, Gallagher, J & Djuli, SM 2021, 'High flux polysulfone braided hollow fiber membrane for wastewater treatment role of zinc oxide as hydrophilic enhancer', Journal of Environmental Chemical Engineering, vol. 9, no. 5, 105873. 10.1016/j.jece.2021.105873
Yadav, CB, Tokas, J, Yadav, DV, Winters, A, Singh, RB, Yadav, R, Gangashetty, P, Srivastava, R & Yadav, R 2021, 'Identifying Anti-Oxidant Biosynthesis Genes in Pearl Millet [Pennisetum glaucum (L.) R. Br.] Using Genome—Wide Association Analysis', Frontiers in Plant Science, vol. 12, 599649. 10.3389/fpls.2021.599649
Huson, KM, Morphew, R, Winters, A, Cookson, A, Hauck, B & Brophy, P 2021, 'In vitro screening as an anthelmintic discovery pipeline for Calicophoron daubneyi: Nutritive media and rumen environment-based approaches', Parasitology Research, vol. 120, no. 4, pp. 1351-1362. 10.1007/s00436-021-07066-2
Kostas, ET, Adams, JMM, Ruiz, HA, Durán-Jiménez, G & Lye, GJ 2021, 'Macroalgal biorefinery concepts for the circular bioeconomy: A review on biotechnological developments and future perspectives', Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, vol. 151, 111553. 10.1016/j.rser.2021.111553
Azelee, NIW, Manas, NHA, Dailin, DJ, Malek, R, Moloi, N, Gallagher, J, Winters, A, Leng, OM & Enshasy, HAE 2021, Mushroom Bioactive Ingredients in Cosmetic Industries. in Advances in Macrofungi: Pharmaceuticals and Cosmeceuticals. Taylor & Francis, pp. 207-229. 10.1201/9781003191278-16
Bhatia, R, Lad, J, Bosch, M, Bryant, D, Leak, D, Hallett, J, Franco, T & Gallagher, J 2021, 'Production of oligosaccharides and biofuels from Miscanthus using combinatorial steam explosion and ionic liquid pretreatment', Bioresource Technology, vol. 323, 124625. 10.1016/j.biortech.2020.124625
Joniver, C, Photiadis, A, Moore, P, Winters, A, Woolmer, A & Adams, J 2021, 'The global problem of nuisance macroalgal blooms and pathways to its use in the circular economy', Algal Research, vol. 58, 102407. 10.1016/j.algal.2021.102407
Brown, A, Adams, J, Grasham, O, Carmargo-Valero, M & Ross, A 2020, 'An assessment of different integration strategies of hydrothermal carbonisation and anaerobic digestion of water hyacinth', Energies, vol. 13, no. 22, 5983. 10.3390/en13225983

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