Munster TU to lead €1m project to help Irish bioeconomy go low carbon

5 Apr 2022

Image: © UTBP/Stock.adobe.com

A new project will develop a prototype system to monitor the impact of Ireland’s bioeconomy and model how it can contribute to climate targets.

Researchers at Munster Technological University (MTU) are spearheading a €1m collaborative project aimed at developing a low-carbon strategy for Ireland’s bioeconomy.

The Informbio project will develop a prototype national bioeconomy monitoring system that will enable Ireland to track the development and progress of the bioeconomy against key indicators.

Future Human

The aim is to understand the available land and marine biological resources and value chains in the country that can best contribute to Ireland’s 2050 climate neutrality target.

As well as MTU, researchers at NUI Galway, Teagasc and the Central Statistics Office are also involved.

Carmen Girón Domínguez, Informbio project manager and researcher at MTU, said that the project would “support preparations for a bioeconomy observatory for Ireland, providing a roadmap for Ireland towards [the] implementation of a sustainable bioeconomy, along with the tools to rigorously measure progress towards this objective.”

The project is being funded by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. Its budget is €996,430 and it will run for four years until 2026.

It is one of 24 successful projects from 131 applications funded to a total of €20.1m under the department’s 2021 research call.

“Given the enormous potential of Ireland’s land and marine biological resources, the circular bioeconomy has emerged as one of the key opportunity areas to decarbonise primary sectors, and the economy as a whole, in a cost-competitive manner,” said James Gaffey, Informbio coordinator and co-director of the Circular Bioeconomy Research Group at Shannon ABC in MTU.

Gaffey said that the Informbio initiative would integrate bioresource and residue modelling, along with value-chain analysis, techno-economic assessment, life-cycle assessment and climate scenario modelling as part of a bid to “quantify and model the potential of a circular bioeconomy to contribute to Ireland’s climate and sustainability targets”.

Dr David Styles of NUI Galway will lead the life-cycle assessment of priority bio-based value chains to be co-developed with a group of stakeholders. Réamonn Fealy, Maeve Henchion and Jesko Zimmermann of Teagasc will lead the design of a prototype monitoring system to benchmark Ireland’s bioeconomy.

Fealy said that the agricultural research body would “employ new, web-based tools, built on a geospatial technology framework, to show the nature, extent and locations” of resources relevant to effective bioeconomy monitoring.

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Blathnaid O’Dea is Careers reporter at Silicon Republic

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