Research seeking to produce low molecular weight aromatic chemical feedstocks from the lignin that is currently a waste product from wood processing and paper manufacturing. The group is using synthetic biology to engineer microorganisms capable of enzymatically degrading this waste to provide a new source of aromatic feedstock molecules, securing the supply of these molecules to industry and ensuring society can continue to use the everyday items we all take for granted. Collaborators include MetGen, BioSep and Scottish Forestry. Increasing global energy consumption is accelerating the rate of fossil fuel depletion. When oil reserves are eventually exhausted the essential by-products produced in refining will no longer be available. Since these aromatic chemicals are used in many processes including the manufacture of plastics, detergents, fertilizers, pharmaceuticals, paints and synthetic fibres it is vital that alternative sources become available.