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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/K038885/1
Title: Synthetic Biology applications to Water Supply and Remediation
Principal Investigator: Beaumont, Professor S
Other Investigators:
Rosser, Professor SJ Sloan, Professor WT Cronin, Professor L
Murphy, Professor JD Quince, Dr C Cooper, Professor J
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: College of Science and Engineering
Organisation: University of Glasgow
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 October 2013 Ends: 31 May 2019 Value (£): 5,191,661
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Synthetic biology Water Engineering
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Environment Water
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
06 Mar 2013 Frontier Engineering Interview Panel Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
We propose to harness one of the most rapidly evolving frontiers in science, synthetic biology, to tackle one of the most pressing engineering problems, the supply and remediation of fresh water, in order to deliver innovative technologies into a rapidly expanding international market.

Synthetic biology is an exciting and potentially transformative scientific endeavour with apparently limitless applications. This basic technology is now being developed in laboratories across the UK, with significant academic impact . The frontiers of the field are being pushed back rapidly and scaling up to real-world applications now presents a significant challenge and opportunity. In this respect, the design of technology for water supply and treatment is an area that urgently requires the innovation that synthetic biology promises. In the Developed World, the engineers of the industrial revolution bequeathed us magnificent water infrastructure. But it is now aged, faulty, expensive to maintain, costly to run, energy guzzling and, consequently, unsustainable.

We will innovate in the basic-technology of synthetic biology to improve existing and create new biotechnologies for water supply and treatment focussing on two generic themes, namely: synthetic organisms as sentinels and signallers, and synthetic organisms as catalysts.

The chip-to-lab-to-pilot scale water engineering technologies in drinking water systems, membrane filtration technologies, anaerobic digestion, microbial fuel cells and bioelectrochemical systems currently being developed in the Environmental Engineering group will provide robust environments to test new ideas. We will use synthetic organisms as sentinels and signallers to engineer the formation and dissolution of biofilms and to optimise the recovery of valuable products in the anaerobic treatment of wastewater. We will develop minimal cell architectures as catalysts in detoxifying water. We will quantify the dynamics of populations of synthetic organisms in open microbial communities and explore responsible innovation in synthetic biology and governance of the emerging technologies.

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Organisation Website: http://www.gla.ac.uk