Research

BiOrbic’s research programme focuses on three critical pillars of the bioeconomy through fundamental research platforms and collaborative projects with industry.

Extracting valuable molecules from biomass.

Converting those molecules into new products.

Ensuring the bioeconomy is sustainable and circular.

Selective Separation

Our ‘Selective Separation Research Platform’ addresses challenges of filtering out high value molecules from agri-food residues and energy side streams through use of breakthrough novel biological membranes and filtration at the nanoscopic level. These high value molecules include gases such as CO2, mixtures of sugars such as mono- and disaccharides, and large molecules such as proteins.  

Our Selective Separation research platform and teams are led by Prof. Yurii Gun’ko (TCD) and Prof. Eoin Casey (UCD) .

Some examples of research in our Selective Separation platform are below:

Project 1

Process development of integrated separation and conversion processes involving gaseous substrates
Researchers

Principal Investigators:
Prof Eoin Casey (UCD)
Prof Patrick Guiry (UCD)
Prof Yuriii Gun’ko (TCD)

Funded Investigators
Prof JJ Leahy (UL)

Postdoctorate Researchers
Dr Sorcha Daly (UCD)

Postgraduate Researchers
Tomislav Horvat (UCD)
Burcu Akkoyunlu (UCD)

Project Goals and Strategy

Biotechnological conversion processes involving gases (derived from residues) are often limited by challenges such as (i) poor mass transfer characteristics (rate-limiting) particularly due to low solubility of relevant gases (ii) safety issues with certain gases (iii) presence of impurities in the gas streams (iv) a limited understanding of the design and scale-up of gas-based systems. This project aims to overcome these obstacles with new bioreactor designs involving membranes and to undertake scale-up and techno-economic analysis of these novel process.

Key Publications

B Akkoyunlu, S Daly, E Casey (2021) Membrane bioreactors for the production of value-added products: Recent developments, challenges and perspectives – Bioresource Technology

Project 2

Novel membrane fabrication for the upgrading of gasification products
Researchers

Principal Investigators:
Prof Yurii Gun’ko (TCD, Project Lead)

Funded Investigators
Prof Ramesh Babu (TCD)

Postdoctorate Researchers
Dr Sarah McCarthy (Q4 2017 only)
Dr Finn Purcell-Milton (from 2018)

Postgraduate Researchers
Natalia Garcia Domenech (October 2017 – December 2021)

Project Goals and Strategy

The main goal of this project is to develop new membranes which are based on 2D nanomaterials for nanofiltration (NF) and the upgrading of gasification products. The technical objectives include:

– Preparation and testing of membranes based on oxidised BN (BNOx).
– Preparation and testing of BNOx – LDH (layered double hydroxide) based hybrid membranes.
– Preparation and testing of BN-Fe3O4 based hybrid membranes.

Key Publications

N. García Doménech, F. Purcell-Milton, Casasín García ML, M Ward, MB Cabré, A Rafferty, K McKelvey, P Dunne, Y.K. Gun’ko, High-Performance Boron Nitride-Based Membranes for Water Purification, Nanomaterials, 10.3390/nano12030473.

N. García Doménech, F. Purcell-Milton and Y. K. Gun’ko, Recent Progress and Future Prospects in Development of Advanced Materials for Nanofiltration, Materials Today Communication, 10.1016/j.mtcomm.2019.100888

Xue Bai, Finn Purcell-Milton, Yurii K. Gun’ko Near-infrared-emitting CIZSe/CIZS/ZnS colloidal heteronanonail structures Nanoscale, 10.1039/D0NR02777D.

Kuznetsova, V. A. ; Mates-Torres, E.; Prochukhan, N.; Marcastel, M.; Purcell-Milton, F.; O’Brien, J.; Visheratina, A. K.; Martinez-Carmona, M.; Gromova, Y.; Garcia-Melchor, M.; Gun’ko, Y. K Effect of Chiral Ligand Concentration and Binding Mode on Chiroptical Activity of CdSe/CdS Quantum Dots, ACS Nano, 10.1021/acsnano.9b07513

Finn Purcell-Milton, Antton Curutchet and Yurii Gun’ko Electrophoretic Deposition of Quantum Dots and Characterisation of Composites Materials, 10.3390/ma12244089


Project 3

Electrospun Membranes
Researchers

Principal Investigators
WP1: Prof Yurii Gun’ko (TCD, Project lead),
WP2: Prof Yurii Gun’ko (TCD), Prof Mick Morris (TCD)


Funded Investigators
WP1 & WP2: Prof Ramesh Babu (TCD, WP2 lead)

Postdoctorate Researchers
WP2: PD Saranya Rameshkumar (from January 2020)

Postgraduate Researchers
WP1: Natalia Garcia Domenech (October 2017 – December 2021)
WP1: Fearghal Donnelly (February 2018 – December 2020)


Project Goals and Strategy

Overall goal of this project is to develop functionalised electrospun membranes for applications on selective separation of fermentation and bioprocess feed/product streams. Electrospinning is a key process adopted in this project to fabricate scalable and mechanically robust nanofibrous membranes. There are four main objectives devised as given below on the basis of this project framework:

– Development of electrospun nanofibrous membranes
– Production of functionalised electrospun membranes
– Characterisation of functionalised nanofibrous membrane
– Performance evaluation of developed electrospun membranes for selective separation

Key Publications

Saranya Rameshkumar, P. Shaiju, Kevin E. O’Connor, Ramesh Babu P, Bio-based and biodegradable polymers-State-of-the-art, challenges and emerging trends, Current opinion in green and sustainable chemistry, Vol. 21, February 2020, 75-81. DOI 10.1016/j.cogsc.2019.12.005.

Saranya Rameshkumar, Rory Henderson and Ramesh Babu Padamati, Improved Surface Functional and Photocatalytic Properties of Hybrid ZnO-MoS2-Deposited Membrane for Photocatalysis-Assisted Dye Filtration, MDPI Special Edition, Membranes 2020, 10(5), 106. DOI 10.3390/membranes10050106.


Project 4

Development of novel biopolymer membrane systems for separation of proteins and peptides.
Researchers

Principle Investigators
Prof Yurii Gun’ko (TCD)

Funded Investigators
Prof Mick Morris (TCD, Project Lead)
Prof Ramesh Babu (TCD)


Postdoctorate Researchers
Dr Tandra Ghoshal 0.5 FTE (June 2018 – December 2020)

Postgraduate Researchers
Nadezda Prochukhan (from September 2019)


Project Goals and Strategy

– Development of novel polymer membranes via phase inversion on a purpose-built casting rig.
– Preparation of novel hybrid materials such as chitosan-PMMA composites etc.
– Functionalisation of polymer membranes with silanes and potentially chiral moieties such as biomolecules. This is to allow phase separation by chemical affinity as well as size.
– Optimisation of pore structure and size for specific biomolecule filtration.
– Improvement of tensile strength and rigidity under filtration conditions.


Key Publications

Daniel K. Kehoe, Luis Romeral, Ross Lundy, Michael A. Morris, Michael G. Lyons, Yurii K. Gun’ko, One Dimensional AuAg Nanostructures as Anodic Catalysts in the Ethylene Glycol Oxidation, Nanomaterials, 10.3390/nano10040719

Nadezda Prochukhan, Andrew Selkirk, Ross Lundy, Elsa C. Giraud, Tandra Ghoshal, Clive Downing, and Michael A. Morris “Large-Area Fabrication of Vertical Silicon Nanotube Arrays via Toroidal Micelle Self-Assembly”, Langmuir, Jan 2021 (DOI: 10.1021/acs.langmuir.0c03431)


Project 5

Frontier Technology for Biomass pre-treatment to increase substrate availability for bioconversion processes
Researchers

Principal Investigators

Funded Investigators
Prof James Lyng (UCD, Project lead)


Postdoctorate Researchers
Dr Ajay Menon (from April 2019)

Postgraduate Researchers


Project Goals and Strategy

The main goal of the project is to assess the potential for individual or sequential pre-treatments combinations of high voltage pulse electric fields to induce cell/biosolid lysis leading to an enhanced substrate for bioconversion.

The work has been divided in five different work tasks (WT): WT1. Literature review, method development, and design future experiments; WT2. Screening of substrates in terms of suitability for biogas production.; WT3. Assessment of physically disruptive pre-treatments for the substrates chosen for further study in terms of biogas production; WT4. Short circuiting the anaerobic digestion pathways to produce medium chain fatty acids (a new WT in addition to what was included in the original proposal)WT5. Cost benefit analysis of pre-treatments for production of biogas and other products.

Key Publications

Menon, A; Lyng, JG, Circular bioeconomy solutions: driving anaerobic digestion of waste streams towards production of high value medium chain fatty acids, Reviews in Environmental Science and Biotechnology, 10.1007/s11157-020-09559-5

Conversion

Our ‘Conversion Research Platform’ uses chemistry and biology to engineer microorganisms for the building of industrial biotechnology in the bioeconomy. Breakthrough research in this platform includes using bacteria for production of novel bioplastics, creating plastics that are home-compostable and transforming dairy side streams into the building blocks for high value pharmaceutical ingredients such as those used in vaccines and targeted drug delivery mechanisms.

Our Conversion research platform and teams are led by  Prof. Pat Guiry (UCD) and Prof. Gerard Cagney (UCD) .

Some examples of research in our Conversion platform are below:

Project 1

Chemical conversion/applications of lactose
Researchers

Principal Investigators
Prof Patrick Guiry (UCD)

Funded Investigators
Prof Paul Evans (UCD)
Prof Stefan Oscarson (UCD)

Postdoctorate Researchers
Dr Martin Pedersen (UCD)
Dr Balajii Rokade (UCD)

Postgraduate Researchers
Sandra Bulawa (UCD)
Morgan Morris (UCD)
Dennis Bengtsson (UCD)

Project Goals and Strategy

Objective 1: Synthesis of a library of lactose-derived chiral N,N and N,N,N chiral ligands  to investigate their ability to induce levels of enantioselectivity in metal-catalysed asymmetric transformations.

Deliverables: 

 -Synthesis of gram quantities of lactose-derived N,N ligands with a range of alcohol-protected groups.

 -Synthesis of gram quantities of lactose-derived N,N,N ligands with a range of alcohol-protected groups.

 -Prepare metal complexes of these ligands for structural characterisation (X-ray crystallography).

Objective 2: Applications in asymmetric catalysis – screen a range of metal-catalysed processes to test the enantiodifferentiating ability of these novel ligands.

Deliverables: 

 -Testing metal complexes of lactose-derived N,N ligands in asymmetric catalysis.

 -Testing metal complexes of lactose-derived N,N,N ligands in asymmetric catalysis.

 -Optimisation of successful asymmetric catalytic transformations to include a substrate scope.

Key Publications

 -P. Fischer, M. Morris, H. Müller-Bunz and P. Evans; Synthesis and Structural Elucidation of 1,2-Disubstituted 3- Fluoropiperidines; Eur. J. Org. Chem., DOI 10.1002/ejoc.202000026

 -Tammo Diercks, Francisco J. Medrano, Forrest G. FitzGerald, Donella Beckwith, Martin J. Pedersen, Mark Reihill, Anna- Kristin Ludwig, Antonio Romero, Stefan Oscarson, Mare Cudic and Hans-Joachim Gabius, Galectin‐Glycan Interaction: Guideline for Monitoring by 77 Se NMR Spectroscopy and Solvent (H 2 O/D 2 O) Impact on Binding., Chem. Eur. J. 27 (2021) 316; doi:10.1002/chem.202003143.

 -M. Reihill, L. Guazzelli, H. Remaut and S. Oscarson, Synthesis of Rationally Designed Thiol-Bearing Monosaccharides Towards Inhibition of H. pylori, Molecules 25 (2020) 4281. doi:10.3390/molecules25184281.

 -M. Long, A. Ní Cheallaigh, M. Reihill, S. Oscarson and M. Lahmann, Synthesis of Type 1 Lewis b, Lewis a and H-antigen structures featuring incorporation of L-[U- 13 C 6 ]-fucose labels into the Lewis b hexasaccharide, Org. Biomol. Chem. 18 (2020) 4452-4458; doi:10.1039/D0OB00426J

 -Connon, R.; Roche, B.; Rokade, B. J.; Guiry, P. J. Further Developments and Applications of Oxazoline-Containing Ligands in Asymmetric Catalysis Chem. Rev. 2021, 121, (11), 6373-6521. doi.org/10.1021/acs.chemrev.0c00844  

 -“Catalytic asymmetric transformations of oxa- and azabicyclic alkenes” Kumar, S. V.; Yen, A.;  Lautens, M .;  Guiry, P. J. Chem. Soc. Rev. 2021, 50, 3013-3093.

Project 2

carbon dioxide as feedstock
Researchers

Principal Investigators
Prof Patrick Guiry (UCD)
Prof Gerard Cagney (UCD)

Postdoctorate Researchers
Dr Muniraj Nachimuthu (UCD)

Postgraduate Researchers
Kate McKeever (UCD)
Manuel Bruch (UCD)
Jia-Lynn Tham (UCD)

Project Goals and Strategy

The use of CO2 as a raw material in molecular science has been the subject of many investigations. The aim of the project is to explore feasibility of partially replacing the non-sustainable feedstock with renewable and widely available ones to contribute to transition to a circular economy. This project will investigate valorisation of CO2 as feedstock using synthetic transformation chemistry as well as biological approaches.

The project team will work closely with separation specialists in the Selective Separation Research Platform (researchers from Prof Eoin Casey’s and Prof Yurii Gunko’s group) and well as biotechnology experts in Prof Kevin O’Connor’s group in the Selective Separation Research Platform. Life cycle analysis will be built in from the start by the project team working closely with Prof Nick Holden’s group in the Sustainability Research Platform.

In addition to researchers directly focused on project 2.5, the new CO2 focus area brings together researchers engaged in other centre projects who have CO2 focus.  Namely, the work of Project 2.1 PhD Kate McKeever and CDT PhD students Manuel Bruch (from September 2020), Jia-Lynn Tham (from October 2020) will come under the umbrella of CO2 focus area.

Project 3

Use of Biomass-Derived Gases as Feedstock Materials forSynthetic Chemistry
Researchers

Principal Investigators
Prof Patrick Guiry (UCD)

Funded Investigators
Prof JJ Leahy (UL)


Postdoctorate Researchers
Dr Balaji Rokade (UCD)

Postgraduate Researchers
Ayman Hijazi (UL)

Project Goals and Strategy

The aim of the project is to investigate the use of CO2 and syngas (H2/CO) produced from biomass in metal-catalysed, direct and enantioselective carboxylation and carbonylation of styrenes for the production of high value fine chemicals of interest to the pharmaceutical industry. The production of pure CO2 and syngas will require (i) optimisation of pyrolysis, gasification, chemical looping combustion, separation and purification (link to Platform 1 – PP-1 and PP-2) (ii) test a range of ligands to determine both regioselectivity and enantioselectivity; (iii) extend alkene substrates to naturally occurring examples; (iv) apply methodology to compounds of pharmaceutical interest.

Key Publications

-Rokade BV, Guiry PJ. Synthesis of α-Aryl Oxindoles by Friedel-Crafts Alkylation of Arenes. J. Org. Chem. 2020, 85, 6172-6180;  DOI 10.1021/acs.joc.0c00370

-“Synthetic and mechanistic studies in enantioselective allylic substitutions catalysed by palladium complexes of a modular class of axially chiral quinazoline-containing ligands”, Carroll, A. M., McCarthy, M., Lacey, P. M., Saunders, C. P., Connolly, D. J., Farrell, A., Rokade, B. J., Goddard, R., Fristrup, P., Norrby, P.-O., Guiry, P. J. Tetrahedron. 2020, doi.org/10.1016/j.tet.2019.130780.

-Connon, R.; Roche, B.; Rokade, B. J.; Guiry, P. J. Further Developments and Applications of Oxazoline-Containing Ligands in Asymmetric Catalysis Chem. Rev. 2021, 121, (11), 6373-6521. doi.org/10.1021/acs.chemrev.0c00844

-“Catalytic asymmetric transformations of oxa- and azabicyclic alkenes” Kumar, S. V.;  Yen, A.;  Lautens, M.; Guiry, P. J. Chem. Soc. Rev. 2021 , 50, 3013-3093.

Project 4

Bio-based and Compostable Polymer Composites
Researchers

Principal Investigators

Funded Investigators
Prof Ramesh Babu (TCD, project lead)
Prof Michael Morris (TCD)


Postdoctorate Researchers
Dr Shaiju Parameswaran (10/07/2018 – 09/07/2019),
Dr Rituparna Duarah (from February 2020)

Postgraduate Researchers

Project Goals and Strategy

The main objective of the projects are i) Development of bio-based polymer blends and charcaterisation; ii) Production of polymer nanocomposites based on bio-based polymers; iii) Scaling up of optimised bio-based bio-based polymer composites and extrusion of prototype films and iv) evaluation of compostability of bio-based composites.

Key Publications

Parameswaran Shaiju ,Benamor-Bois Dorian ,Ramsankar Senthamaraikannan and Ramesh Babu Padamati (2020) Biodegradation of Poly (Butylene Succinate) (PBS)/Stearate Modified Magnesium-Aluminium Layered Double Hydroxide Composites under Marine Conditions Prepared via Melt, Compounding; Molecules, 10.3390/molecules25235766.

Invention Disclosure: Fluorescent labelling of biodegradable and recycled plastics to enhance the plastic circularity’ Ref: RB01-990-01. Patent application is in progress.


Project 5

Biological Conversion (Systems and Synthetic Biology)
Researchers

Principal Investigators
Prof Kevin O’Connor (UCD)
Prof Eoin Casey (UCD)

Funded Investigators
Dr Gerard Cagney (UCD)
Prof David O’Connell (UCD)

Postdoctorate Researchers
Dr Tanja Narancic

Postgraduate Researchers
Nadia Lamari (January 2018 – July 2020)
Michelle Rich (January 2019)
Federico Cerrone (from October 2017)
Si Liu (from 2021)

Project Goals and Strategy

The overall goal of this project is to establish a versatile Synthetic/Systems Biology and Omics resource within the Conversion platform that can be applied to research questions relevant to the bioeconomy. The programme is centred on solving two significant global bioconversion challenges: creating synthetic pathways in microorganisms to make complex products (polymers) as well as the use of gaseous substrates to make chemicals. The focus was renewed in 2021 to include projects targeting CO 2 utilization.

Key Publications

Tiso T, Narancic T, Wei R, Pollet E, Beagan N, Schröder K, Honak A, Jiang M, Kenny ST, Wierckx N, Perrin R, Avérous L, Zimmermann W, O’Connor K, Blank LM. Towards bio-upcycling of polyethylene terephthalate. Metab Eng. 2021 Jul;66:167-178. doi: 10.1016/j.ymben.2021.03.011. Epub 2021 Apr 16. PMID: 33865980.

Lynch C, Jordan L and O’Connell DJ. Redesigning Spent Media from Cell Culture Bioprocess to Feed New Bacterial Fermentations, chapter 5 in Cell Culture Engineering and Technology, Springer – https://link.springer.com/book/9783030798703

Liu S, Narancic T, Davis C, O’Connor KE. CRISPR-Cas9 Editing of the Synthesis of Biodegradable Polyesters Polyhydroxyalkanaotes (PHA) in Pseudomonas putida KT2440. Methods Mol Biol. 2022;2397:341-358. doi: 10.1007/978-1-0716-1826-4_17. PMID: 34813072.

Narancic T, Salvador M, Hughes GM, Beagan N, Abdulmutalib U, Kenny ST, Wu H, Saccomanno M, Um J, O’Connor KE, Jiménez JI. Genome analysis of the metabolically versatile Pseudomonas umsongensis GO16: the genetic basis for PET monomer upcycling into polyhydroxyalkanoates. Microb Biotechnol. 2021 Nov;14(6):2463-2480. doi: 10.1111/1751-7915.13712. Epub 2021 Jan 6. PMID: 33404203; PMCID: PMC8601165.

Narancic T, O’Connor KE. Plastic waste as a global challenge: are biodegradable plastics the answer to the plastic waste problem? Microbiology (Reading). 2019 Feb;165(2):129-137. doi: 10.1099/mic.0.000749. Epub 2018 Nov 30. PMID: 30497540.

Ruiz C, Kenny ST, Narancic T, Babu R, Connor KO. Conversion of waste cooking oil into medium chain polyhydroxyalkanoates in a high cell density fermentation. J Biotechnol. 2019 Dec 20;306:9-15. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiotec.2019.08.020. Epub 2019 Aug 30. PMID: 31476332.

T Narancic, F Cerrone, N Beagan, KE O’Connor (2020) Recent Advances in Bioplastics: Application and Biodegradation. Polymers 10.3390/polym12040920

G McGauran, S Linse and DJ O’Connell (2020) Single Step Purification of Glycogen Synthase Kinase Isoforms from Small Scale Transient Expression in HEK293 Cells with a Calcium-Dependent Fragment Complementation System. Methods in Molecular Biology 10.1007/978-1-0716-0191-4_22

Saranya Ramesh Kumar, P. Shaiju, Kevin E. O’Connor, Ramesh Babu P (2020) Bio-based and biodegradable polymers – State-of-the-art, challenges and emerging trends. Current Opinion in Green and Sustainable Chemistry, 21:75-81. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cogsc.2019.12.005.

R Wei, T Tiso, J Bertling, K O’Connor, LM Blank, UT Bornscheuer (2020). Possibilities and limitations of biotechnological plastic degradation and recycling. Nature Catalysis 3:867-871. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41929-020-00521-w

Rich M. H., K.E. O’ Connor, and Narancic T. 2020. Non-canonical (unusual) amino acids as a toolbox for antimicrobial and anticancer peptide synthesis. Amino Acids, peptides and proteins. Book chapter. Volume 44. Editors Maxim Ryadnov and Ferenc Hudecz. Royal Society of Chemistry. ISBN 978-1-78801-689-6.

Tanja Narancic, Nick Weirckx, Si Liu, and Kevin E O’Connor. 2020. Converting Petrochemical Plastic to Biodegradable Plastic. The Handbook of Polyhydroxyalkanoates. Page 315-330. ISBN 9780429296611

McGauran G, Dorris E, Borza R, Morgan N, Shields DC, Matallanas D, Wilson AG, O’Connell DJ. Resolving the Interactome of the Human Macrophage Immunometabolism Regulator (MACIR) with Enhanced Membrane Protein Preparation and Affinity Proteomics. Proteomics. 2020 Oct;20(19-20):e2000062. doi: 10.1002/pmic.202000062. Epub 2020 Sep 9. PMID: 32864787.

Drummond E, Flynn S, Whelan H, Nongonierma AB, Holton TA, Robinson A, Egan T, Cagney G, Shields DC, Gibney ER, Newsholme P, Gaudel C, Jacquier JC, Noronha N, FitzGerald RJ, Brennan L. Casein Hydrolysate with Glycemic Control Properties: Evidence from Cells, Animal Models, and Humans. J Agric Food Chem. 2018 May 2;66(17):4352-4363. doi: 10.1021/acs.jafc.7b05550. Epub 2018 Apr 24. PMID: 29638124.

Sustainability

Our ‘Sustainability Research Platform’ seeks to provide an evidence base for the development, growth, operation and flourishing of an emerging bioeconomy. Researchers in this platforms are working on areas such as socio-economic analysis, biodiversity, natural capital, consumer and citizen understanding of the bioeconomy, societal engagement, life cycle thinking and the bioeconomy policy landscape.

Through our work in this platform, we are creating a bi-directional stakeholder Knowledge Hub to integrate emerging knowledge from the Research Centre, and to scale the bioeconomy through collaboration with consumers, society, students, industry, researchers, regulators and policy makers.

Our Sustainability Research Platform and teams are led by Prof. Nick Holden (UCD) and Prof. Maeve Henchion (Teagasc) .

Some examples of research in our Sustainability platform are below:

Project 1

Bioeconomic Modelling / Life Cycle Costing / Natural Capital
Researchers

Principal Investigators

Funded Investigators
Prof Cathal O’Donoghue (NUIG)
Prof Jane Stout (TCD)

Postdoctorate Researchers
Dr Cathal Geoghegan (NUIG, from June 2018)

Postgraduate Researchers
Andrew Neill (TCD, from September 2019)

Project Goals and Strategy

The goal of this project is firstly to demonstrate how the bioeconomy and natural capital approaches are related, and secondly how emerging ecosystem service and natural capital approaches can be applied to inform an environmentally sustainable bioeconomy using pilot case-studies in Ireland.

Key Publications

Andrew M. Neill, Cathal O’Donoghue and Jane C. Stout, A Natural Capital Lens for a Sustainable Bioeconomy: Determining the Unrealised and Unrecognised Services from Nature Sustainability, DOI 10.3390/su12198033

Project 2

Consumer and Societal Understanding of the Bioeconomy
Researchers

Principal Investigators
Dr Maeve Henchion (Teagasc)

Funded Investigators
Dr Eoin O’Neill (UCD)

Postdoctorate Researchers

Postgraduate Researchers
Khalid Medani (December 2018 – October 2019)
Nima Nejadrezaei (from September 2020)
Mina Sadeghzadeh (from January 2021)

Project Goals and Strategy

The objectives of this project are, firstly, exploring how to cultivate consumption of bio-based products; and secondly, to explore societal acceptance of bio-based products.

The project seeks to gain a better understanding of consumers’ and wider society’s understanding and interpretation of the bioeconomy, the factors that present consumer and societal acceptance challenges and require effective engagement with consumers and the scientific community in communication with consumers and society regarding bio-based products.

Project 3

Life Cycle Thinking
Researchers

Principal Investigators
Prof Nicholas M. Holden (UCD)

Funded Investigators
Dr Fionnuala Murphy (collaboration on Magners Farm spoke project)
Prof John O’Doherty (collaboration on Adesco spoke project)


Postdoctorate Researchers

Postgraduate Researchers
Nishtha Talwar (from January 2020)
Julia Virgolino (from May 2019)
Michelle Savian (from May 2019)


Project Goals and Strategy

Holistic evaluation of a bioeconomy idea, be that a feedstock, technology, or system, is required to properly understand the impacts and implications of the transition from conventional, fossil resource depleting economy, to a sustainable bioeconomy. The overall goal of these projects was to advance thinking about how life cycle thinking, which is now widely adopted by policy makers in the European Union, can be used to better understanding the impacts (social, environmental, and economic) of bioeconomy projects. The quantitative method, Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) offers many advantages for stakeholders wishing to understand the implications of an innovation, including being holistic (cradle to grave/cradle), multi-impact (e.g., climate, water, energy, soil, atmosphere, ecosystems) and having scientifically agreed impact methods and ISO accounting rules. However, many of the norms and rules adopted in practice were devised before the advent of bioeconomy and circular economy concepts. The projects address useful method adaptations to maximise the value of LCA (e.g., assessment of assumptions, attributional vs consequential approaches, stakeholder perception of system function, land use pressures and the expression of impact in terms of ecoefficiency rather than absolute impact). The approach taken is (i) to assess the methodological implications of rules used for environmental life cycle assessment and the development of a readiness level framework linked to LCA (3.3.1), which is the foundation of all other LCA methods, (ii) to develop specific social methods suitable for bioeconomy projects (3.3.2) and (iii) to develop an assessment framework factoring in land use pressure and absolute impacts (3.3.3), with a particular focus on Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). All ideas being developed are being tested using case studies selected from platform and spoke research activity (submerged mushroom production, seaweed extraction, cereal storage, alternative farming practices), and because of the Covid-19 situation, they are also being assessed using case studies in Brazil (organic egg production, local farmer cooperative/hotel bioeconomy network and agroforestry production of organic lime).

Key Publications

Key publications currently under review:

Talwar, N., Holden, N. M. The limitations of bioeconomy LCA studies for understanding the transition to sustainable bioeconomy. Int. J. LCA.

Holden, N. M., Neill, A. M., Stout, J. C., O’Brien, D, Morris, M. A. Biocircularity: a framework to define sustainable, circular bioeconomy. Circ. Econ. Sustain.

Holden, N. M. A Readiness Level Framework for Sustainable Circular Bioeconomy. EFB Bioecon. J

Project 4

Policy Coherence and Public Policy in Market Development
Researchers

Principal Investigators

Funded Investigators
Associated Professor Eoin O’Neill (UCD)


Postdoctorate Researchers
Dr Luke Kelleher (October 2018 – October 2020)
Anne Pender (from January 2022)

Postgraduate Researchers
Hannah Gould (from February 2020)


Project Goals and Strategy

The bioeconomy will involve radical innovation that may disrupt established routines and create resistance and anxieties, which need to be understood. Development of the bioeconomy will be a socio-technical transition where advancements in technology interact and co-evolve with consumer practices, business, markets, policy, cultural meaning, and infrastructure. In project 3.2, qualitative and quantitative social science research methods are being deployed to understand consumer and citizen perspectives of the bioeconomy. Both are required for acceptance of the concept and its products and services. Acceptance by the consumer is fundamental to market development and acceptance by citizens is essential for governance.

Key Publications

Kelleher L, Henchion M, O’Neill E (2019) Policy Coherence and the Transition to a Bioeconomy: The Case of Ireland Sustainability, DOI 10.3390/su11247247

Kelleher L, Henchion M, O’Neill E (2021) Framing the Circular Bioeconomy in Ireland’s Broadsheet Media, 2004 – 2019, Environmental Communication, DOI 10.1080/17524032.2021.1889632


Project 5

Societal engagement, Business interface and Knowledge Hub
Researchers

Principal Investigators
Prof Nicholas Holden (UCD)

Funded Investigators
Dr Áine Macken-Walsh (Teagasc)
Prof Donna Marshall (UCD)
Prof Andrea Prothero (UCD)


Postdoctorate Researchers
Dr Orlagh Reynolds (UCD, October 2018 – August 2021)
Dr Aideen O’Dochartaigh (UCD, October 2018 – August 2020)

Postgraduate Researchers
Kieran Harrahill (Teagasc, from October 2018 )


Project Goals and Strategy

Business Interface: Set up and run events for the business community in Ireland to increase their awareness and engagement with the bioeconomy, including workshops and individual meetings.

Key Publications

Business Interface and Knowledge Hub Projects
Journal Articles: In Review

Marshall, D., O’Dochartaigh, A., Prothero, A., Reynolds, O., and Secchi, E. Processes, Pitfalls and Potentials of the Bioeconomy. MIT Sloan Management Review. One of the highest ranked business journals in the world with a massive global readership (3rd Review).

O’Dochartaigh, A., Reynolds, R., Marshall, D., Prothero, A., Secchi, E. Can sustainability networks achieve sustainability outcomes? integrating the past, reconceptualizing the future. Business and Society (3rd review)

Reynolds, O., Marshall, D., O’Dochartaigh, A., Prothero, A., Reynolds, R., Secchi, E. The use of framing in the innovation process. Journal of Product Innovation Management (1st review)

Journal Articles: Working Papers

O’Dochartaigh, A., Reynolds, O., Marshall, D., Prothero, A., Secchi, E. (2021) “I just can’t see the value your research adds”: Tensions and tension management strategies in sustainability network orchestration.

Reynolds, O., O’Dochartaigh, A., Prothero, A., Marshall, D., Secchi, E. (2021). Framing the role of entrepreneur suppliers in the circular bioeconomy.

Harrahill, K., Macken-Walsh, A., O’Neill, E., Lennon, M. (2022). Power & knowledge dynamics in an EIP-Agri Operational Group for developing the bioeconomy: experiences of Irish dairy farmers.

Harrahill, K., Macken-Walsh, A., O’Neill, E. (2022). Identifying core, peripheral and intermediary actors in the bioeconomy using social network analysis: An Irish case study.

Harrahill, K., Macken-Walsh, A., O’Neill, E. (2022). Can the bioeconomy support a just transition for economically vulnerable agricultural sectors? Perspectives of Irish beef farmers.

Peer-Reviewed International Conference Papers

O’Dochartaigh, A. Reynolds, O., Marshall, D., Prothero, A., Secchi, E. (2021) “‘I just can’t see the value your research adds’: tensions and tension management strategies in sustainability network orchestration”. Presented at the European Group for Organisational Studies Colloquium 2021, July 2021, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU) (online).

Reynolds, O., O’Dochartaigh, A., Prothero, A., Marshall, D., Secchi, E. (2021). Framing the role of entrepreneur suppliers in the circular bioeconomy. IPSERA 2021 Online Conference, 1st April 2021.

O’Dochartaigh, A., Reynolds, O., Marshall, D., Prothero, A., Secchi, E. (2021) “I just can’t see the value your research adds”: Tensions and tension management strategies in sustainability network orchestration. 37th European Group for Organisational Studies Colloquium, Edinburgh, UK, 3rd July 2021.

O’Dochartaigh, A., Reynolds, O., Marshall, D., Prothero, A. and Secchi, E. (2020) Sustainability networks: structure, management and performance across network types. 7th international EurOMA Forum at the University of Nottingham, UK, 10-12th Feb 2020.

Reynolds, O., O’Dochartaigh, A., Marshall, D., Prothero, A. and Secchi, E. (2020) Innovation framing for a sustainable circular bioeconomy network. 7th international EurOMA Forum at the University of Nottingham, UK, 10-12th Feb 2020.

O’Dochartaigh, A., Reynolds, O., Marshall, D., Prothero, A. (2019). Organisational networks for sustainability: Insights and challenges. 35th European Group for Organisational Studies Colloquium, Edinburgh, UK, 3rd July 2019.

Industry Focus

BiOrbic works in partnership with industry in the agri-food and marine sectors through targeted projects in two defined Spokes – agriculture and marine – to develop a resource efficient approach to sustainable production of food, feed and other vital products. We are also actively engaged with other bioeconomy relevant sectors.

Translation of our Research

Research performed at BiOrbic, in particular collaborative industry projects are developed as part of a wider national bioeconomy research and development ecosystem. This includes. translation of fundamental research at BiOrbic, through to pilot scale facilities to accelerate technological discoveries, for example at the National Bioeconomy Campus in Lisheen, Co. Tipperary to market implementation through flagship biorefineries.