Professor Roslyn Bill
Development of a sustainable rice waste bio-refining process.
Waste rice residues are a plentiful and largely untapped resource in Asian countries. They have potential to be converted to high-value products. Current “at-site” waste burning practices have serious, detrimental effects on the environment and human health. Our long term vision is to develop a sustainable waste bio-refining process, incorporating improved water management policies, to deliver improved standards of living and jobs in rural communities.
India and Vietnam produce vast quantities of agricultural waste. Waste rice straw, husk and bran are sustainable feedstocks for the production of agrochemicals and high-value products. GCRF-funded interdisciplinary collaboration with UK (biotechnology, catalysis), Indian (biotechnology) and Vietnamese (catalysis) researchers will accelerate the implementation of renewable technologies to reduce waste rice residues in the agri-food chain. The recent establishment of demonstration-scale facilities in Mumbai for the fractionation of waste rice residues to sugars and lignin provides a timely opportunity to develop enabling technologies for the renewable production of high-value commodity chemicals. This project will facilitate knowledge generation and transfer at the interface of bio-/chemo-transformations and physics/engineering. Young researchers from Indian and Vietnamese institutions will have unrivalled access to world-leading UK science spanning the bio-refining pipeline. Underpinning new technologies will build research capacity in sustainable agricultural waste management. The ultimate impact of the project in India, Vietnam and other LMIC countries will be to realize zero-waste technologies that offer employment for rural youth.