Through principles of producing excellent and collaborative research with impact, our mission is to contribute to important advances in human knowledge and make significant improvements to quality of life globally.
The selection of impact case studies for this unit of assessment represent impact from both existing and new research areas to demonstrate the varied research being undertaken in the unit, including tackling huge global challenges such as reducing carbon emissions. Much of the research impact has resulted from extensive collaborative research with international industrial partners, such as our research into harnessing electrochromic dyes for use in the manufacturing of ophthalmic sunlenses. Other impacts demonstrated in the case studies below include developing biorefining strategies to allow bioethanol production from seawater and textile recycling; and developing new analytical techniques to support commercial product development.
The following impact case studies have been entered for the REF 2021 submission. Find out more below.
Reducing carbon emissions to tackle climate change is a global priority, with China recently committing to lowering CO2 emissions by 65% by 2030. Research at the University of Huddersfield has developed methods for isolating novel microorganisms from the marine environment (yeasts) and soil (fungi) that have unique properties suitable for use in biorefinery processes.
Using these microorganisms, the bioconversion of agricultural crop residue into biofertiliser was developed. In field trials, the results demonstrated a reduced requirement for chemical fertiliser, improved soil properties, increased crop yield (~10%) and prevented the burning of biomass, resulting in significantly reduced CO2 emissions. Additional examples of impact, include (i) the development of a seawater-based bioethanol process which has the potential of turning bioethanol production from a freshwater consuming industry into a freshwater producing industry and (ii) the development of a novel biological approach to recycle textile waste, which targets 160 million tons/annual of textile waste worldwide.
Research conducted at the University of Huddersfield, in collaboration with AB Vista, has established protocols for extracting arabinoxylans from a range of feedstocks and for analysing the degradation products produced by AB Vista’s xylanase enzymes, in support of AB Vista’s marketing, customer support and new product development based on detailed scientific understanding of the efficacy and modes of action of their xylanases in animal nutrition.
The research has helped identify a mechanism of cell signalling of gut microbiota via oligosaccharides released by the xylanases. This new paradigm of enzyme efficacy has informed AB Vista’s commercial partnerships and redirected their product development, supported by the new analytical techniques developed in Huddersfield for quantification of prebiotic molecules in animal feed.
The failure of established photochromic ophthalmic lenses to operate effectively in vehicles, combined with their appreciable temperature dependence has necessitated the search for new light responsive lenses. Founded upon series of new electrochromic dyes designed and synthesised at the University of Huddersfield, a controllable intense-colouring electrochromic ophthalmic sun-lens has been constructed which outperforms current photochromic lenses.
Beneficiaries of this research include an international medical device company and global leader in sun-lenses, who have expanded their intellectual property portfolio and increased their technical staff and commercial activities.