Dr Peter Randerson - PhD
Willow coppice for biomass.
My past and current research interests relate to the ecological impacts of land use changes in upland Wales, biomass crops and biofiltration in constructed wetlands:
Biomass production with short rotation coppice and energy grasses. High production willow and biomass grasses are feasible as alternative crops in marginal farmland areas. Research into planting and management regimes, and into habitat enrichment in biomass crops, continuing over 20 years, is based at the University's Field Centre in Powys, mid-Wales (with Dr Fred Slater). As alternatives to fossil fuels for heat energy and potentially for biofuel, such crops offer additional income for farmers, and diversity in the landscape. More information on willow research is available on the Wales Biomass Centre Site. Collaborator: Prof P Kowalik (Technical University of Gdansk, Poland)
Constructed wetlands - reed bed and willow bed.
Biofiltration of effluents in constructed wetland systems. Constructed wetlands (CW), planted with willow and acting as biofilters, provide a cost-effective method of disposal of farm slurry and other effluent, avoiding the risk of local pollution of watercourses. I am investigating the role of willow roots in oxygenating the sub-surface environment of CWs, and its importance in pollutant removal, using the novel technique of membrane inlet mass spectrometry. This enables detection of dissolved gases (O2, CO2, NH3) in the undisturbed subsurface environment, as indicators of microbial activity.
Collaborator: Prof P Kowalik (Technical University of Gdansk, Poland), Dr A Albuquerque (Univ. of Beira Interior, Covilha, Portugal)
Enzymic extraction of ethanol from plant biomass and cellulosic waste materials.
Degradation of cellulose to simple sugars enables the production of ethanolic biofuel from biomass grass crops or plant waste residues. Research into the practical and economic feasibility of utilising low cost feed-stocks (with Dr Brian Dancer), aims to develop novel enzyme systems to optimise ethanol yield.
Computer simulations for teaching in biosciences.
Computer simulation models can provide valuable insight into the functioning of biological systems both as experimental tools and as teaching aids. Following earlier simulations in genetics, I am currently developing a model of the trophic dynamics of an aquatic ecosystem for ecology teaching.
Awards in recent years have been received from the following funding bodies:
EU/Welsh Assembly Government
HEA Centre for Bioscience
Univ. of Wales
British Petroleum Intl
Gwent Wildlife Trust
National Trust, Cardiff China Centre
Shropshire District Council