31 Mai 2006

New NNFCC projects in 2006/07

NNFCC Administered Funding

Defra has agreed to provide almost £750,000 to fund a total of 13 projects and programmes in 2006/07. These are managed by NNFCC experts and focus on two key areas:

  • Identifying and addressing barriers to uptake of a range of crop-derived products and technologies. This will include work to refine our understanding of the real life cycle impacts and benefits of these novel products.

  • Strengthening our capacity to communicate effectively with industry, the public and regional bodies.

The projects comprise:

  • Two temporary members of staff in the NNFCC Communications Team to produce materials for industry and for the public. Outputs will include written materials and exhibition materials aimed at education, consumers, industry sectors, farmers. The materials will be carefully tailored to the intended audience.

  • A temporary member of the team to facilitate regional and sub-regional delivery of the Government Strategy for Non-Food Crops and Uses, ensure connection between regional and national requirements and increase the profile of the NNFCC across the English regions.
  • A one-year attachment from the Life Cycle Assessment group at Imperial College London. The work will take account of the data gaps and requirements identified by members of the NNFCC team and the results of other projects, such as those on construction.
  • Non-food crops can contribute to tackling waste, pollution and health risks. Two new projects address these issues:
    • A comparative LCA of plastic and paper carrier bags. This will encompass the raw material, manufacture, distribution, use and disposal of bags made from: crop-derived polymers; oxodegradable and “conventional” materials from petrochemicals; and paper. The output will be a robust, authoritative, peer-reviewed and published report on the environmental impacts of using these bags presently and in the foreseeable future in the UK.

    • Work to facilitate the development of new biosolvent markets in the UK printing industry. This is likely to build on a UK printing industry delegation to review best practise in the German printing industry; development of a consensus on best practise; production of a detailed report; and development of a dissemination strategy for implementation in the UK.

  • Sustainable construction has the potential to deliver substantial environmental and social benefits. One key barrier to the uptake of renewable materials and energy in building is lack of familiarity on the part of professionals, often reflecting a lack of hard information. Three projects will help tackle this issue:
    • A gap analysis to identify where data is missing from the BRE Green Guide to Specification and begin to develop data to plug the gaps. The Green Guide, which is due for re-publication in October, is an important document both as an industry reference and as a component of the EcoHomes scheme which is already recognised and which will support the Government’s Code for Sustainable Homes.

    • A comparative Life Cycle Assessment on selected mineral wool insulation product(s) in comparison with “conventional” and plant long-fibre insulation materials for buildings applications relevant to UK circumstances.
    • A technical manual on hemp-lime construction to provide essential technical, environmental and regulatory data, a range of construction options, drawings of details and examples of real projects where hemp has been used.

  • Biorefineries, including transport fuels, are rapidly increasing in importance as a vector to bring renewable feedstocks to a variety of end uses. The announcement of a Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation helps underpin the development of this sector. Three projects will contribute to developments:
    • A report mapping out potential development options for UK biorefineries. The report will help the NNFCC to develop robust strategies for facilitating the development of biorefinery complexes.

    • A rigorous evaluation of the technical and economic viability of three emerging biodiesel production processes.
    • A report on opportunities for polyols – an important family of chemicals – in the UK.

  • An up-to-date overview of current UK activity in plant-based pharmaceuticals, including an assessment of market size and value, opportunities for growth, and identification of areas where UK bioscience, industry and agriculture can make a positive and profitable contribution.
  • As non-food crops become increasingly attractive to UK farmers, there is interest in the potential for adding value before the farm gate. Options include primary processing, extraction or even marketing on-farm or utilisation of crop by-products for energy generation. The NNFCC will identify the major barriers to uptake in each sector and suggest means to overcome them, outline the potential for on-farm processing of a range of non-food crops and products, identify potential funding streams to implement on-farm technology and recommend the most feasible options.

The “Non-Food Uses of Crops – Supply Chain Assessment and Development R&D Programme” is now reaching completion.

This programme offered funding to support projects that would assess the economic, environmental and social performance of crop-derived products and their supply chains in “real-life” situations. Eligible projects also included those that would stimulate debate, demonstrate the benefits and/or address constraints to the use of crop-derived products.

Details of projects funded under this and earlier calls can be accessed via the Defra website, at http://www2.defra.gov.uk/research/project_data/ by entering the term “NF06″ into the search facility.

All research findings will be published by Defra and NNFCC to further improve access to results right across the sector.

Future funding details will be detailed here as they become available.

For queries relating to this programme please contact [email protected]

Source: National Non-Food Crops Centre May 30, 2006.

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