New enzymes for degrading natural and synthetic polymers: A combined structural and synthetic biology approach

Project Details


This project brings together expertise from multiple groups, led jointly by Professor John McGeehan in the UK and Dr. Gregg Beckham at NREL, with the common goal of addressing our most imminent global challenges for the bioeconomy. Our combined focus on the detailed understanding and improvement of biological catalysis will enable a range of innovations and applications for the deconstruction of natural (lignin) and man-made (plastic) polymers. We will engage in two separate work-streams, although the platform techniques will be common and therefore highly synergistic - while we will have dedicated researchers apportioned to each task, the overall project will benefit from the deployment of common resources including staff specializing in structural and biophysical techniques, combined with superb facility access in the UK including the Diamond Light Source and the Research Complex at Harwell. We will discover, characterise, and engineer a suite of industrially-relevant enzymes for the conversion of natural and synthetic polymers to high-value products and the development of novel bio-based recycling technologies.

Layperson's description

In this project, we're researching solutions to some of the most pressing global environmental problems. We're learning from the natural world, working to deliver transformative enzyme-based processes for circular recycling of plastics, and for turning lignin from wood waste into potentially-useful chemicals.
Effective start/end date1/10/1830/09/23


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