Think for a moment about what you have done so far today - made a cup of tea, driven to work, sent an e-mail or text?
Each of those activities is dependent on oil, from fuel for transport to the plastic parts of your kettle, car, keyboard and mobile. Development of our high-impact consumer lifestyles is accelerating even as fossil fuel supplies are dwindling, and the environmental impact of their use becomes ever more apparent.
But plants, rather than fossil fuels, can provide our future energy, fuel and domestic needs and today an international group of scientists will reveal how. The EPOBIO project, led by CNAP, a research centre at the University of York, is releasing its first series of reports on the endless possibilities of plants.
The renewable revolution
Plants offer a sustainable tool to achieve the renewable revolution. They are 'green factories' using energy from sunlight to make biofuel, bioplastics and a range of other products cheaply and in large quantities. The reports, issued today by the EPOBIO project, present detailed analyses of how plant products and plants themselves can be used to replace products made using oil.
EPOBIO co-ordinator and CNAP Director Professor Dianna Bowles, said: "Two key threats to society are our dependence on finite fossil fuels and climate change. Plants have the potential to provide us with everything now made using petroleum, creating a sustainable society for the future and addressing immediate concerns such as energy costs, security of supply and our impact on the environment."
The need for alternative sources of natural rubber:
The potential of using plants as an energy supply:
The potential of producing lubricants from plants:
The EPOBIO project involves a partnership between experts in plant science, environmental impact assessment, economic analysis and social expectations and combines these strengths to identify the plant-based products which offer greatest benefit to society within the next 10-15 years.
EPOBIO stands for "realising the Economic POtential of sustainable resources - BIOproducts from Non-Food Crops." EPOBIO is an international project to realise the economic potential of plant-derived raw materials and establish the priorities for bioscience research in order to deliver bio-based products for the market place in 10-15 years. The EPOBIO project involves a consortium of 12 European and US partners and is led by the Centre for Novel Agricultural Products at the University of York, UK. The project is funded as part of the European Commission's Sixth Framework Programme, receiving just under £1million, with cooperation from the United States Department of Agriculture.
CNAP, the Centre for Novel Agricultural Products, is a research centre in the Department of Biology at the University of York and was established through a benefaction from the Garfield Weston Foundation and funding from UK Government. The Centre was awarded a Queen's Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education in 2006. The aim of CNAP's research is to realise the potential of plant- and microbial-based renewable resources through gene discovery to make products needed by society. CNAP research in plant and microbial sciences is supported by the UK Research Councils, particularly the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), as well as the DTI and DEFRA, and funding from European and US organisations.
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