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My interests reside in microalgal biotechnology and for the past 35 years I have been designing and optimizing photobioreactors (PBR) for microalgal cultivation. As a graduate biochemist, microalgal postgraduate work began at Lancaster University (1983) investigating the transcriptomics of cell differentiation and nitrogen fixation in filamentous cyanobacteria. 

(About Me continued below)

Areas of Expertise

  • Photobioreactors
  • Algaenan
  • Microalgae
  • Kerogen
  • Cyanobacteria
  • Chemical Engineering
  • Anaerobic digestion
  • Solvent extraction

Publications

  1. Harvesting of microalgae within a biorefinery approach: A review of the developments and case studies from pilot-plants. Algal Research 11, 248-262.
  2. & Investigation of the presence of an aliphatic biopolymer in cyanobacteria: Implications for kerogen formation. Organic Geochemistry 81, 64-69.
  3. & Chlorophyll f and chlorophyll d are produced in the cyanobacterium Chlorogloeopsis fritschii when cultured under natural light and near-infrared radiation. FEBS Letters 588(20), 3770-3777.
  4. Nutrient recycling of aqueous phase for microalgae cultivation from the hydrothermal liquefaction process. Algal Research 1(1), 70-76.
  5. & A low energy process for the recovery of bioproducts from cyanobacteria using a ball mill. Biochemical Engineering Journal 69, 48-56.

See more...

Academic History

Date Qualification Location
2014 Director Greenskill Ltd
1999 Proprietor Photobioreactor.co.uk, Nottingham
2014 Senior Research Officer Swansea University
1983 BSc (Hons) Biochemistry University of Lancaster

Career History

Start Date End Date Position Held Location
2006 2014 Senior Scientist Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML), Plymouth, UK
1999 2006 Director: Photosynthetics Ltd Nottingham
1996 1999 Sole Trader Sherwood Forest Tilapia, Nottingham
1994 1996 Vice president, R&D director: Biotechna Environmental Ltd London
1992 1996 General Manager Biotechna-Graesser Ltd
1991 1996 General Manager Graesser Contactors Ltd (Solvent Extraction)
1991 1996 General Manager Biotechna Ltd (Photobioreactors)
1989 1991 Independent Study of World Algal Biotechnology US, Hawaii, Australia, Thailand, Singapore, India, China
1986 1988 Sole Trader Blue-Green Biotech (Spirulina), Nottingham
1983 1986 Research Assistant Lancaster University

Key Grants and Projects

  • Green Mining. The development of a passive metal mine-water bioremediation and resource recovery process using microalgae. 2015 - 2016

    PI. Innovate UK, Natural Resources Wales and & Welsh Government. SBRI project., £25k & £75k

  • Using flow cytometry and genomics to characterise and optimise microalgal-bacterial consortia cultivated on wastewater to produce biomass for biofuel. 2015

    Project concept originator but not involved. BBSRC:DBT- SuBB., £800K

  • Developing sustainable technologies for algal biomass production. 2011 - 2015

    Co-I. EU:ERDF INTERREG IVB- Energetic Algae- EnAlgae., with 20 partners, £15M project

  • Extracting high value chemicals from microalgae through industrial biotechnology. 2010

    Co-I. Technology Strategy Board: Industrial Biotechnology - High Value Chemicals. (BW015F), ~£245k

  • Biorefinery carbon capture and conversion into industrial feedstocks as direct replacements for petrochemicals, and transformation system development in cyanobacteria CX. 2009 - 2013

    PI. Technology Strategy Board: Low Carbon Energy Programme: (CCIF)., £2.1m

  • Integrated approach to cost-effective production of biodiesel from photosynthetic microbes. 2009 - 2014

    Co-I DEFRA- BBSRC-LINK. Pivotal to securing funding, not involved in project., £1.5M

  • Optimising yield of antioxidants and sunscreens in microalgae for sustainable biosynthesis of ingredients for health and beauty products. 2007 - 2010

    Co-I. BBSRC-DEFRA LINK Renewable Material Programme. (RM012:BBE0189981). , ~£1.1m

  • Identification and sustainable extraction of active compounds from marine microalgae. 2006 - 2009

    Co-I. Technology Strategy Board (H0225J)., ~£900k

  • PI. Development of Photobioreactor Technology. South West RDA. 2008

    , £30K

  • Application of Photobioreactor Technology. 2006

    Co-PI. NERC SBRI., £250K

  • ‘Gently pumping bugs’ Photobioreactor pump development for fragile microalgae. 2000

    PI. DTI Smart Award. 2000., £30K

  • Identification and isolation of heterocyst specific gene sequences from filamentous blue-green algae. 1984 - 1987

    Research assistant. SERC.

About Me (continued)

Cyanobacterial molecular toolkits were largely undeveloped at that time (pre-PCR) and I latterly chose to focus on PBRs and industrial scale microalgal cultivation system development. I established Blue-Green Biotech (1985) and designed an artificially illuminated 1000 litre PBR system powered by biogas generated electricity from the anaerobic digestion of farm wastes. As general manager of Biotechna Ltd (1991), I jointly developed the Biocoil PBR design and applied this to several applications including; phyto-pharmaceutical production, algal paste production for larval feeds, waste water treatment and CO2 sequestration. Working collaboratively with Professor Bill Oswald (Berkeley), we investigated the integration of PBRs in to sewage treatment processes and in 1993 deployed the UK’s first microalgae based wastewater treatment system in collaboration with Severn Trent PLC (National Geographic 1993). I have independently developed a new class of biofilm PBRs, successfully applying the systems to intensive fish farm water recycling, sewage treatment and mine water remediation. In 2006 I began working with Plymouth Marine Laboratory to apply microalgal biotechnology and proprietary PBR technology. In 2009, I proposed, designed and constructed the UK’s first carbon capture based microalgal biorefinery at Boots PLC, Nottingham, employing my patented PBR technology (16,000 litres). The £2.1M project was funded by the Technology Strategy Board, Boots PLC and BASF. In 2014 I joined Swansea University and I am currently investigating and applying microalgae to help tackle society’s big challenges relating to sustainability, pollution, climate change, human health, bioenergy, food-security, aquaculture, waste-water and industrial biotechnology. A recent breakthrough involves the development of a passive minewater remediation and resource recovery system to deal with the polluting heavy metal (Pb, Zn, Cd, Hg) discharges from abandoned metal mines in Wales.

Patents

  • 2016 Processing of Waste Water from Mine Discharge Carrying Heavy Metals. UK Patent Application No. 1604464.6
  • 2010 Novel personal care/skincare composition comprising a microalgal extract. WO2011158041.
  • 2009. Apparatus (Photobioreactor) for treating fluid streams and method for conducting the same.  EP2391704, WO2010086589, US20112782192011, GB2467353.
  • 2002. Purification of contaminated wastewater (Photobioreactor). WO2004046037, AU2003248940
  • 1999. Tubular bioreactor. GB2331762
  • 1999. Modified bioreactor. US6174720
  • 1998 Method for treating a waste stream using photosynthetic microorganisms. US6465240
  • 1998. Pump. US20000737350, WO9966208, EP1088167, DE69911013
  • 1997. Photoreaction (Photobioreactor). US6370815, GB2330589, WO9920736, AU9549998.
  • 1998. Helical flexible vane pump. GB2341896
  • 1996. Culture of microorganisms (Photobioreactor). WO9824879, GB2320031.
  • 1993. Means for continuous digestion of organic matter. US5637219, GB2276374, JPH07507720, WO9421565, EP0642470.