Partnering to build a Green Economy

By Chelston Lovell

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An agreement between The University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus and BioJet International Ltd has boosted the university’s triple objectives of securing more significant international linkages; bolstering its research capacity and systematically transforming the institution into a green environment, focused on maximising renewable-energy use.

This cooperation between The University of the West Indies and BioJet (www.Biojetcorp.com) will create a biosciences-research and commercial partnership; with BioJet funding research at Cave Hill leading to discoveries and commercialisation of biofuels and other renewable energy, and the establishment of the UWI/BioJet International Biofuel Research Institute.

The partnership is intended to develop Cave Hill’s capacity for research into renewable energy technologies, whether from plant, waste biomass or algae, as well as new graduate careers in biosciences, and those pertinent to the logistics and supply chain management of biofuel distribution.

Additionally, the two entities will share equally any intellectual property outcomes from research into microalgae for the production of biofuels and derivatives.

BioJet International is a leading global supply chain integrator for renewable jet fuel and related co-products which include green diesel for the aviation and related commercial transportation sectors. The firm’s operations span the entire biofuel chain including the generation of feedstock; technology; refining; logistics; sustainability certification; distribution and eventual end use by the aviation sector world-wide. BioJet is also the first Alternative Fuels Strategic Partner of the International Air Transport Association.

“This agreement is one of the cornerstone science and technology projects that will undergird the transformation of our campus and the region with new career options, and serve as a knowledge-based platform for the creation of wealth through bioenergy research,” said Principal of UWI Cave Hill Campus, Sir Hilary Beckles.

CEO of BioJet, Mitch Hawkins, noted “the Caribbean is a major area of interest for our company and we see UWI Cave Hill as a valuable partner in the future success of our operations”. “We operate throughout the entire biofuel value chain and research is key to all aspects of our global competitiveness.

“The July 1 approval of ASTM International – allowing 50 per cent blends of aviation biofuel derived from feedstocks such as camelina, jatropha and microalgae – is a game-changing decision for the worldwide transportation industry and opens up tremendous opportunities for both UWI and BioJet International.”

The BioJet initiative is just one of the latest strategic alliances which Cave Hill has entered into to foster more applied research programmes and create new science-based careers, thereby building its capacity to conduct biofuels research.

Another MOU with the Scottish firm Xanthella (www.xanthella.com) will allow Cave Hill to test their photo-bioreactors under tropical conditions. Photo-bioreactors are essential instruments in the growth of microalgae and a key enabler in being able to scale up to commercial production of biofuels.

Similarly, the world renowned J. Craig Venter Institute (www.jcv.org) has agreed to partner with UWI in providing students and researchers experience in synthetic biology, bioenergy and genomics research.

Agreements under discussion will create a research partnership with the University of South Florida Polytechnic, South Dakota State University and the West Indies Central Sugar Cane Breeding Station (www.wicscbs.org), to focus on the production of butanol from fuelcane – an alternative to sugar cane – which, when genetically modified to produce high-fibre cellulose, is a superior source of biomass for the production of biofuels..

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