University of Warwick: High-value chemicals to be made from agricultural waste thanks to RAEng Fellowship

Research Fellowships are the Academy’s flagship scheme that support outstanding early-career researchers to become future research leaders in engineering. The fellowships are designed to advance excellence in engineering by providing funding for five years to allow awardees the freedom to concentrate on basic research in any field of engineering.Caption: Dr Alexander Darlington, School of Engineering, University of Warwick Credit: University of Warwick

Dr Alexander Darlington from the School of Engineering at the University of Warwick has received one of these fellowships, his research focusses on engineering and biotechnology and addresses key challenges to the industrialisation of engineered microbes.

The research he will embark upon includes designing new genetic control systems which dynamically balance growth with engineered function to maintain good performance over real-world timescales. Working with industrial partners he is applying these methods to the biomanufacture of high value chemicals, allowing everyday chemicals to be produced from agricultural waste products instead of petrochemical feedstocks.

Upon receiving his fellowship Dr Alexander Darlington, from the School of Engineering at the University of Warwick comments:

“I am delighted to be embarking on this research at the University of Warwick. Biomanufacture offers new, exciting and clean routes to the production of chemicals we use every day but at present the design process for new products is costly and time consuming which forms a roadblock to realising the huge potential of biotech. I am thoroughly looking forwarding to working with my industrial partners to develop new computer aided design tools and optimisation strategies in order to transform the product development cycle as part of a transition to a greener future.”

Professor Philip Nelson CBE FREng, Chair of the Royal Academy of Engineering Research Fellowships Steering Group, says:
“The Academy owes a huge debt of gratitude to the many Fellows who provide a considerable amount of time and in-kind help with the selection, mentoring and networking of awardees. By providing long-term support in this way, they are helping the next generation of leaders establish their independence and global reputation and contribute towards building a sustainable society and inclusive economy that works for everyone.”