“Energy Gardens”- a seminar from Prof. Jon Lovett on exploring indigenous plants as a source for local biofuel in Nepal

On Monday, Green Chemistry had the pleasure of hosting Jon Lovett from the University of Leeds, who is part of an international team investigating whether indigenous plants in Nepal smallholdings, can be used to produce biofuels locally, supporting local communities in rural areas.

A great variety of biofuel research is carried out in York, from identifying useful enzymes from compost and marine animals (Prof. Simon McQueen-Mason, Prof. Neil Bruce), to the applications of microwave technology (Dr. Budarin).

Complementing this research, Jon has been investigating how biofuel can be produced in situ to support local populations, rather than through centralised systems which often don’t reach rural areas, and can provide unreliable supplies of electricity.

The research follows huge successes in India, where Hassan Biofuels Park now work with several thousand farmers in wet and semi-arid zones.  Indigenous oil seed plants grown in field bunds (plant barriers to run-off at field edges) or as shade plants, are now used by the community to produce biofuel to power irrigation pumps, and for transport.

Jon’s findings (funded by Botanical Gardens Conservation International) indicate that similar schemes could be hugely successful in Nepal, and similarly promote a shift from large-scale farming for centralised biofuel production, to local production, supplying local needs.

greenSTEMS was used to help publicise this talk to departments outside of Chemistry, and we were delighted to bring together researchers from Biology, Chemistry and Environment, for science, politics and beautiful photos of Nepal.

– contributed by Emily Johnston

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