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News Archive: 2008

December 2008


The traditional Christmas tree that's at the heart of every home this festive season could provide part of the answer to treating the killer bird flu virus abd bring £10 million a year to Wales, latest research has shown

Scientists at the BioComposites Centre, Bangor, working on a Woodknowledge Wales project, have discovered that Welsh grown Sitka spruce contains valuable pharmaceutical material. Those needles which drop into the carpet and are still found months later contain traces of shikimic acid, described by experts as an essential ingredient in the world's only weapon against bird flu.

And now the research project sponsored by WKW, providing leads in innovation, research and development on behalf of the Wales Forest Business Partnership, points to a possible way to extract this valuable new source of the drug from forest waste materials.

"Our work so far shows that material that at best is chipped and composted can provide an excellent source of expensive chemicals needed in today's society" said Dr Dennis Jones of WKW. "And if a viable market existed for more than 70 tonnes of Welsh spruce oil the gross value would be more than £10 million, not including production costs" he said.

Researchers have also discovered essential oils, resins, flavinoids - anti-oxidants which can help fight heart disease - and sugars with probiotic properties which could be used in health products. "Biorefinery of green materials has been proposed as a way to add value to the Welsh forest," said Graham Ormondroyd of the BioComposites Centre. "Certainly our initial research shows that it is possible."


May 2008


A joint research project between BC and the School of Chemistry could lead to a groundbreaking new form of cheap solar energy. The team believe that replicating photosynthesis (the way plants turn light into energy) could make green solar power a more affordable option than current silicon-based solar panels.

Read more on the University's News page



BC welcomes WISE and WCC for their Technology Day on Composites and the Environment on 5th June 2008.

The Welsh Composites Consortium (WCC) and Welsh Institute for Sustainable Environments (WISE) will join forces to present a Technology Day on Composites and the Environment. The one-day event is aimed at composite users, materials suppliers, manufacturers, environmentalists and engineers from industry, governmental ogranisations and FE and HE institutions.

The event will highlight the potential for Welsh SMEs to explore opportunities and conceive ideas to develop their business in this sector. For more information, download the event flier here.

To register for this free event contact Anke Skrobek on 01792 602505 or by email.


January 2008


The BioComposites Centre is joining forces with other departments from Bangor University, Aberystwyth University and Swansea University to provide advice and consultancy to Welsh businesses. The WISE project will run until July 2008 and has already generated several successful collaborations, such as generation of fuel from waste tyres.

BC brings many areas of expertise to the WISE project, including characterisation of natural fibres and agricultural residues, experience in manufacturing of particleboard and pulp moulded products, development of new chemicals from bio-derived feedstocks and calorific value determination for novel energy crops.

If you are a Welsh business, and you have a technical problem, small or large, talk to us. We are able to offer advice, testing and consultancy. Convergence funding is available for us to provide advice free of charge to designated areas in Wales. Ask us for more information.