Catalogue of Environmental Research Expertise in Ireland

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This is an Individual Researcher Profile

Researcher Contact Details

Research Title: Prof.

Contact First Name: Gary

Contact Surname: Walsh

Contact Address:

Department of Chemical and Environmental Sciences University of Limerick, Castletroy, Limerick, Ireland

Telephone Contact Number: + 353 61 202664

Fax Contact Number: + 353 61 202568

Email Address:

Organisation Details

Organisation Type: Higher Education Organisation

Higher Education Organisation Name: University of Limerick

Other Organisation Name(s) if appropriate:

Research Organisation or Company/Corporate Website:

Organisation or Individual Expertise:
Prof. Gary Walsh is Chair of Industrial Biotechnology within the department of Chemical and Environmental Sciences at the University of Limerick, Ireland. His primary research focus is in the areas of (a) second generation bioethanol production from lignocellulosics and (b) cleaner, greener processing (both areas described below). He has participated in research grant proposal applications which have successfully secured €3.1 million in funding, of which his personal share is €2.0 million. His research collaborations span both academic and industrial partners. He has supervised/continues to supervise 22 researchers (14 postgraduate students and 8 post-doctoral research scientists). His 200+ publications include 105 ‘class 1’ publications (9 authored books, 2 edited books, 17 book chapters and 77 journal articles – h-index, 17). He has also presented his work at 60 international conferences. Research interest, Area 1: Biofuel/biorefinery Context & lay summary The development of renewable sources of liquid fuels as an alternative to fossil fuels is receiving increasing global attention due environmental, economic and energy security concerns. The production of bioethanol from cellulose-based raw materials (e.g. grass, straw & wood) is at the forefront of this technology, but a major stumbling block is how to effectively degrade the cellulose to its glucose building blocks (the glucose is then fermented to ethanol, basically by brewing technology). A major on-going focus of my research group is the identification and use of enzymes (proteins that speed up chemical reactions) derived from thermoacidophilic bacteria (bugs that grow best in boiling acid) to more efficiently achieve cellulose degradation (a process that currently usually entails the use of boiling acid). These enzymes are also academically interesting because they work best under such extreme conditions. Technical description/recent and on-going projects Studies of the fundamental properties and industrial application, with particular emphasis upon biorefinery, of secretome (lignocellulosic) enzymes from thermoacidophilic microorganisms. Our current lead enzyme is a cellulase displaying optimal activity at 100oC and pH 3.5, and which is stable under these conditions for several hours. Project 1: Development of an alternative processing technology, using thermoacidophilic enzymes, for the production of second-generation bioethanol (€75,000) Project 2: Application of novel enzymes derived from thermoacidophiles to second-generation biofuel Production (€355,000) Sample publications Publication on hold until any associated intellectual property is secured. Research interest, Area 2: Cleaner, greener processing Context & lay summary This area of my lab-based research work focuses upon decreasing the environmental impact of biotechnological and related industrial processes. To date our focus has been upon the dairy processing industry and on the pharmaceutical manufacturing, but the same principles could be applied to many other industries/processes. Some projects are undertaken in cooperation with other UL research groups. Recent and on-going projects Project 1: Minimisation of hazardous waste generated by CIP operations in the dairy processing industry (€171,000) Project 2: The potential of whey in industrial fermentations and broader characterization of agri-processing waste (€196,000). Project 3: An environmental analysis of biopharmaceutical manufacturing in recombinant E. coli, with a viewto waste minimization of Phosphorous and Nitrogen content in waste streams generated (€ 40,000) Project 4: Environmental issues relating to the manufacture of antisense-based products of pharmaceutical biotechnology (€85,000) Sample publications Boyce, A. and Walsh, G. (2012) Identification of fungal proteases potentially suitable for environmentally friendly cleaning-in-place in the dairy industry. Chemosphere, 88, 211-218 Boyce, A., Piterina, A. and Walsh, G. (2010) Assessment of the potential suitability of selected commercially available enzymes for cleaning in place (CIP) in the dairy industry. Biofouling, 26 (7), 837-850. Cliffe, F. Walsh, G and O’Dwyer, T. (2010) Utilisation of Phosphorous Nutrient Content in Industrial Scale Plasmid DNA Production: A Waste Minimisation Study. Journal of cleaner production. 18, 1066-1072.

Organisation or Individual Expertise Keywords:
biofuel bioethanol biorefinery second-generation lignocellulose lignocellulase thermoacidophile extremophile cleaner-greener bioprocessing phosphorus COD waste minimization CIP whey dairy-processing biopharmaceutical pharnaceutical biotechnology waste waste-stream

National Research Funding

EPA Research Programme

This researcher or research organisation has expressed interest in the following areas:

 EPA Water Research Pillar
 Sustainable Environment Research
 Climate Change Research
 Green Enterprise Research

Involvement in Relevant National Expert Groups

EU Research Partnerships

This researcher or research organisation has expressed interest in the following areas of EU Research Partnerships:

Climate Change

Interests indicated in the Climate Change Joint Programming Initiative

 Researching Climate Service Development and Deployment

 Sustainable Transformations of Society in the Face of Climate Change

Relevant information in relation to Participation relevant experts groups

No information specified

Details of any previous or current EU-funded projects the individual or organisation were involved in.

No information specified


Interests indicated in the Water Joint Programming Initiative

 Maintaining Ecosystem Sustainability

 Implementing a water-wise bio-based economy

Details of any previous or current EU-funded projects the individual or organisation were involved in.

Experience of participation in expert groups in this area

Any relevant information in relation to Participation in WssTP or other relevant experts groups

Involvement in EU-funded research projects

Other areas of expertise:

Horizon 2020

Horizon 2020 website

Challenge 5 (Climate Action, Resource Efficiency & Raw Materials)

This researcher or research organisation has outlined their interests in Challenge 5 as follows:

Fighting and adapting to climate change

 Support mitigation policies, including studies that focus on impact from other sectoral policies

Sustainably managing natural resources and ecosystems

 Developing integrated approaches for the sustainable management of water-related challenges

Transition towards a green economy through eco-innovation

 Measure and assess progress towards a green economy

 Strengthen eco-innovative technologies, processes, services and products including exploring ways to reduce the quantities of raw materials in production and consumption, and overcoming barriers in this context and boost their market uptake

Focus Areas

→ Competitive low-carbon energy

 Waste: a resource to recycle, reuse and recover raw materials

Societal Challenges 5 Priority Areas

This researcher/organisation has interest(s) in Societal Challenges 5 Priority Areas as outlined as follows

None specified.

Expertise in Societal Challenges 5 Cross-cutting Areas

This researcher has indicated interest(s) and expertise in Societal Challenges 5 Cross-cutting areas as follows:

No cross-cutting areas specified

Details of Participation in European Innovation Partnerships and European Technology Platforms:

The details of any ETPs or EIP this researcher/organisation have participated in or are currently participating in is outlined as follows.

No participation information provided.

Relevant EU Research Experience

Information in relation to Participation in relevant experts groups

Involvement in EU-funded research projects: Please outline details of any previous or current EU-funded projects the individual or organisation was involved in.

LIFE and COST Actions

Go to the LIFE website
Go to the COST website

Interest in LIFE subprogrammes:

 Environment and Resource Efficiency

COST Actions/LIFE programmes the researcher is currently or has participated in:

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