The Biorenewables Development Centre has been set up to allow us to work on diverse biorefining projects across the bio-based supply chain, such as: breeding new types of plants; extracting valuable chemicals from waste; turning biomass into energy or finding new ingredients for cosmetic products.
We can develop methods at laboratory scale but, importantly, we can also scale up processes to demonstrate their commercial potential, typically at the 1-100 litre or 1-100 kg scale. All our facilities have been arranged in modules allowing flexibility in design of processes. Additionally, our facilities are open-access; meaning that any qualified clients or academics may use our equipment for testing and research. Get in touch if this is something you would like to discuss.
To truly encourage collaborations, we also have a number of bookable hot desks and meeting rooms for hire at our main site in Dunnington so that we can work closely with our partners.
As well as our in-house scale-up facilities described below, the BDC offers access to state-of-the-art analytical facilities in research centres based at the University of York and has an extensive network of specialist partners offering complementary services.
Please note we are currently updating our equipment to reflect some of our newer acquisitions – please get in touch if you would like to know whether we have a specific capability you are looking for.
Fast-track breeding & Molecular analysis
Working closely with the internationally renowned CNAP, we focus high-throughput genomic technologies on improving plants and microbes for new applications. We also use molecular methodologies to investigate the microbiology of food, plant pathogens and waste.
MiSeq Illumina sequencing platform
Used for targeted resequencing, metagenomics, small genome sequencing, targeted gene expression profiling, and more.
Ion Torrent personal genome machine
Designed to allow the rapid sequencing of DNA or RNA
QIAcube HT nucleic acid purification
Used for automated mid- to high-throughput nucleic acid purification
3730 DNA Analyzer
Used for analysis of a range of DNA sequence motifs or markers
Used for the analysis of single base changes in DNA sequences
ViiA7 quantitative real time PCR system
Used to amplify and quantify a small, specific region of target DNA
Used to identify alterations in DNA sequences of interest
Agilent 2200 TapeStation nucleic acids system
Ideal for the very rapid characterisation of DNA or RNA
In order to get the most out of your biorenewable materials it is often necessary to prepare them for further use. This is especially the case with biomass (incl. waste), as these often have high water content and are bulky. So, we have a dedicated range of pre-processing equipment to be able to help from start to finish with your biomass – including drying, milling, pelletising and oil pressing.
Size reduction and grading
Various items such as mills and wood chippers
Used for processing biomass materials with high water content
Used to compress light material into the form of a pellet
Ideal for working with the interesting oils found in seeds
Fibre expansion vessel
Pressurised vessel to pre-treat biomass in various conditions
Our processing equipment allows you to move from bench-top to pilot-scale testing, and has been selected to provide enough scale for you to make commercial decisions. Biorefining and chemical processing inevitably requires separations at some point in the process, and we have a variety of equipment to do this. In addition, we also have novel demonstration equipment, including spinning cone columns, supercritical CO2 and microwave heating technologies.
Used to produce porous carbon-based materials
Used for processing and pre-treatment of biomass
Microwave pyrolysis unit
Used for pyrolysis to make biochar and bio-oil from biomass
Glass reactor suite
Used for reaction, distillation, crystallisation and extraction
Used to process a wide range of heat-sensitive materials
Supercritical carbon dioxide system
Used to separate chemicals from dry solid materials
Used for separating solids and liquids, then drying them
Used for purification and separation of complex organic mixtures
Microbiology & Anaerobic Digestion
Our hazard category II microbiology labs comprise three units: an anaerobic digestion lab, a microbial manipulations lab and a designated clean environment. Take a look below at some of the core pieces of equipment we have to help with microbial identification and quality control.
Stomacher 400 circulator
Used to homogenise samples before microbial testing
Surface Air System (SAS) air samplers
Used to capture micro-organisms in closed environments
Colony Doc-It imaging station
Used to accurately count microbial colonies
Two units to allow scale up and controlled fermentation
Anaerobic digestion (AD) plant
Pilot scale for trials and pre- and post-digestion analysis
Our wide range of technology platforms allows us to explore and characterise many different features of a material, e.g. to find what is in a sample, how it behaves or whether it is toxic. Take a look at the individual machines below and get in touch to learn how these assessments could benefit your business.
Inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer (ICP-MS)
Used to identify compounds in materials (e.g. metal content)
Benchtop NMR analyser
Used to measure oil, fat and moisture in oil seeds, seed cake and foodstuffs
Oxidative stability analyser
Used to determine the oxidative stability of natural fats and oil
High performance liquid chromatograph
Used for the separation and quantification of chemical substances (e.g. sugars)
Used for separation and quantification of chemical substances (e.g. oils)
System to measure various characteristics of water streams