SUPERPHA – Systems and Product Engineering Research for Polyhydroalkanoates (PHA)

The production, processing and application of biopolymers within a range of industry sectors is set to increase rapidly over the coming decade, largely driven by legislative, economic and social drivers aimed at reducing the carbon footprint of polymer based products, reducing their environmental impact, and ensuring that polymer products can be recovered or disposed off more effectively. The growth of biopolymers represents economic opportunities for both end users of the materials (i.e. manufacturers) and companies involved in the manufacture and processing of the raw or refined polymers.

This project brings together a range of industrial partners across the waste management, process engineering, manufacturing and retail sectors, to undertake a programme of research and development aimed at the development and demonstration of a cost effective process for the conversion of low grade organic feedstocks to low embodied energy, bioplastic products and materials.

Project is led by:
Dr. Sandra Esteves, University of South Wales

Project Manager:
Dr. Gopal Kedia, University of South Wales

Project Partners:
Dr. Robert Lovitt, Swansea University
Dr. Robert Elias, Bangor University

Industrial Partners:
Aber Instruments
AMEC Global Renewables
Axium Process
Excelsior Technology
SciTech (supported by BASF)
Thames Water
Welsh Water

The University of South Wales R&D programme includes the optimisation of the production of organic acids, nutrients and PHA from a range of low cost feedstocks such as food wastes, straw and grass, sewage sludge and fats. The USW is also investigating the effect of PHA blends and final products on anaerobic digestibility as well as the LCA of the PHA production process and PHA utilization/disposal/recovery.

Swansea University R&D programme includes the separation of organic acids and nutrients from fermentation broths and recovery of PHA from bacterial cells.

Bangor University R&D programme includes the formulation and processing of PHA based end products for the packaging and automotive sectors.


Project funded by

The project is funded through ERDF and Welsh Government support (Academic Expertise For Business (A4B) Programme). Industrial partners contribute and fund the delivery of the project.