Development of a process to valorise lignin
University of Edinburgh
Dr. Louise Horsfall
I graduated from The University of Edinburgh in 2019 with a BSc in Biological Sciences and honours in Plant Science. During my undergrad I became fascinated with the impressive array of biochemistry achieved by plants, and the exciting potential for their application in biotechnology.
Lignin (~30% of plant cell walls) is the second most abundant biopolymer in the world, but is currently considered to be a waste product due to its recalcitrance. It is made up of aromatic building blocks that could be a high value chemical feedstock for a number of industries. My project is developing a downstream enzymatic treatment for the depolymerisation of Bio-Sep organosolv lignin extracted from waste Sitka Spruce sawdust from Scottish Forestry. Gaining access to these valuable lignin monomers will add economic viability to lignocellulosic biorefineries, and contribute towards the building of a circular bioeconomy in the UK.
Through this project I have the opportunity to work in a field that I am passionate about, and develop a wide range of interdisciplinary skills that will leave me capable of tackling future challenges in both industry and academia.