phytocat logotagline

Project Partners

University of York
Green Chemistry Centre of Excellence

Professor James Clark

Leading Principal Investigator

james clark

Professor James Clark is Professor of Chemistry and Director of the Green Chemistry Centre of Excellence at the University of York (UK) (GCC). The GCC is a world-leading research, education and networking institution that specialises in the development and application of green chemical technologies with special interest in exploiting the chemical potential of biomass. James Clark is internationally known for his work on green chemistry and its application to biorefineries.  He leads a team of about 80 postgraduate researchers, academic, scientific and support staff with a current grants portfolio of over £5M and on-going collaborations with numerous companies including Boots, GSK, PQ corporation, B&Q, InterfaceFlor, Contract Chemicals, Armstrong World, National Starch, Unilever, and Brocklesby-Double Green. He was the founding editor of the worlds leading journal on sustainable chemistry “Green Chemistry”, and is President of the largest private membership network on green chemistry.  He is the recipient of a wide range of distinctions, including; the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Environment Prize, Society of Chemical Industry Environment Medal, Royal Academy of Engineering Clean Technology Fellowship, Fellowship of the Royal Society of Chemistry, Royal Society of Arts Better Environment Award, European Better Environment Award, Prince of Wales award for Innovation. He has over 400 publications including, 12 books as author or editor and 18 patents.

Dr Andrew Hunt

WP 3 Leader

andy hunt

Dr. Andrew Hunt‘s research highlights include innovative work on the supercritical extraction of liquid crystals from defunct display devices, which led to a Rushlight award for innovation in recycling. The recovery and expansion of waste polyvinyl alcohol from this waste has also received significant attention including a press conference at the ASC green chemistry conference Washington DC, June 2010.  Dr. Hunt‘s current role is the scientific leader of the natural solvent technology platform at the Green Chemistry Centre of Excellence within the University of York, which includes managing the highly successful centre for CO2 applications.  Dr Hunt’s research includes leading a work package on added value products from maize, miscanthus and sugarcane as part of a biorefinery European FP7 project (SUNLIBB).  Other research interests include materials science (utilisation of waste residues), waste treatment, catalysis, elemental sustainability, supercritical fluids, biorefineries and mesoporous carbons (Starbons®). 

Center for Novel Agricultural Products CNAP

Professor Neil Bruce

WP 2 Leader

neil bruce

Neil Bruce is Professor of Biotechnology in the Centre for Novel Agricultural Products in the Department of Biology at the University of York. He has worked on the biochemistry and molecular genetics of microbial and plant metabolism for over 25 years. His work on enzyme technologies has resulted in the discovery of a diverse range of enzymes that have environmental and industrial biotechnology applications. He has over 15 years’ experience on bioremediation of explosives and this work has been supported by long-standing collaborative programs with the UK MoD and the US DoD. He was the recipient of Environmental Science and Technology’s award of “Top Environmental Technology Paper of 2007” and received the 2009 Strategic and Environmental Research Development Program (SERDP) of the US DoD ‘Environmental Restoration Project of the Year award’ in recognition of his DoD funded research. He co-founded the DTI ProBio Faraday Partnership for Biocatalysis, and co-founded and directed Bioniqs Ltd, a spinout ionic liquids company from the University of York that arose from his work on enzyme catalysis in ionic liquids. He coordinated the FP6 Marie Curie Early Stage Fellowship Programme CHEMCELL and is currently coordinator of the FP7 Marie Curie ITN P4FIFTY. He has published over 120 refereed papers including papers in Nature Biotechnology, Nature Structural Biology, JACS and PNAS.

Dr Liz Rylott

liz rylott

Dr Rylott has studied molecular biology and biochemistry of plants for over 18 years. She initiated, and now manages, the phytoremediation research group within Prof. Neil Bruce’s laboratory. Her research is focused on understanding the genetic mechanisms involved in the detoxification of environmental pollutants and the mechanisms of xenobiotic-induced stress responses in plants. Much of this work is funded by long term collaborations with the US Department of Defense, and Dr Rylott is a Co-PI on this work. The phytoremediation group studies a range of environmental pollutants including explosive compounds (TNT and RDX), herbicides, metals (gold, palladium) and halogenated aliphatic compounds. Dr Rylott has been involved in key achievements including: The first demonstration of an RDX-degrading gene system, including the characterisation of a structurally-unique cytochrome P450; engineering a catabolic pathway in Arabidopsis for the degradation of 1,2-dichloroethane; elucidating the TNT detoxification pathway in plants and; demonstrating the applicability of Genetically Modified technology for the phytoremediation of explosives (RDX and TNT). This research has attracted significant media attention including recently, a press conference at the British Science Festival and Radio 4’s Material Science, December 2011. 

Yale University

Professor Thomas Graedel

WP 4 Leader

thomas graedel

Professor Thomas Graedel is Professor of Industrial Ecology in the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Yale University. His academic focus is centered on developing and enhancing industrial ecology, the organizing framework for the study of the interactions of the modern technological society with the environment. His textbook, Industrial Ecology, coauthored with B. R. Allenby, was the first book in the field and is now in its third edition. It, and Graedel’s 2004 textbook Greening the Industrial Facility, are used for courses of the same names at Yale University and elsewhere. Overall, he has published 15 books and more than 350 research papers, and his citation record is in the top 1/3 of 1% of active scientists. His current research topics include studies of the flows of materials within the industrial ecosystem, and of evaluating the criticality of metals. He is a member of the UNEP International Resource Panel, and Chair of the U.S. National Research Council committee on Sustainability Linkages in the Federal Government. He was elected to the U.S. National Academy of Engineering for “outstanding contributions to the theory and practice of industrial ecology, 2002.”

The University of British Columbia

Dr John Meech

WP 1 Leader

john meech

John Meech is Director of CERM3 (Centre for Environmental Research in Minerals, Metals, and Materials) at the University of British Columbia, founded in 2000 from support grants from the Canada Foundation for Innovation, the BC Knowledge Development Fund, and Stewart Blusson. CERM3 has conducted over 40 major projects on environmental remediation and sustainable communities. Of particular note in 2001 a plug was installed in the 2200 Level adit of the derelict Britannia Mine site 40km north of Vancouver which at the time was North America's worst metal-pollution site. This plug eliminated all ARD (acid rock drainage) discharge into Britannia Creek. The creek pH increased to 6.5 and levels of copper, zinc, and iron declined by 3-orders of magnitude. This past fall, photographs of adult pink salmon 4 km upstream of the creek mouth have appeared in press reports. Two projects of direct interest to this proposal studied up-take of mercury and gold by plants from tailings and a spent heap leach operation in Brazil. Several species were found to have selectivity towards gold over other metals. Recoveries in pilot trials ranged from 10-15% with concentration ratios of 67:1. Significant beneficiation of mercury was also achieved. Other projects include high-technology applications such as remote-monitoring of mine sites; and increased energy efficiency in comminution processes.


Dr Christopher Anderson

chris anderson

Dr. Anderson is widely recognized as the leading international scientist on the subject of precious metal phytoextraction. He was responsible for the first presentation of gold phytomining to the scientific community (Nature, 1998), and has led research and commercial developments since this time. He holds faculty appointments in Canada and New Zealand (Senior Lecturer in Soil and Earth Sciences, Massey University), is an advisor to the Faculty of Engineering at the Universidad Autonoma de Sinaloa in Culiacan, Mexico, is a founding board member of the International Research Centre for the Management of Degraded and Mining Lands (Indonesia), and is Director of a New Zealand company offering gold phytoextraction service and consultancy. Dr. Anderson has extensive experience with the assessment of soil resource for precious metal phytoextraction, and has designed and implemented trials in South Africa, Mexico, Brazil, Australia and Indonesia in partnership with local collaborators. His current work seeks to apply the revenue from phytoextraction to pay for the clean-up of mine waste. A specific scenario is gold phytoextraction for mercury remediation at illegal artisanal and small-scale gold mines. This work has captured the attention of private companies and government and NGO agencies including the International Labor Office and the International POPs Elimination network.


Others Associated with Phytocat Project

Dr Helen Parker

Green Chemistry Centre of Excellence, University of York


Professor Mark Hodson

Environment Department, University of York

helen parker

Helen gained a PhD in Green Chemistry at the University of York. She is working as the Postdoctoral Research Assistant on the Phytocat project carrying out characterisation and applications for the materials produced during the project

  mark hodson

Mark is a low temperature mineralogist and geochemist. He was appointed Anniversary chair in York in 2012. Before this Mark was at the University of Reading where he founded the Soil Research Centre. He will be assisting the project as soil science advisor.


Nedal Nassar

Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, Yale University


Zakuan Azizi Shamsul Harumain

CNAP, University of York

nedal nassar

Nedal is a PhD student at Yale University working with Thomas Graedel. Prior to Yale he worked as an environmental consultant and process engineer. His contributions to the project include investigating global stocks and flows of PGM’s and developing LCA of the PHYTOCAT process.


Zakuan gained a MSc. In Environmental Biotechnology at the University of Putra Malaysia. He is now studying for a PhD with Prof. Neil Bruce’s group at University of York on a project entitled “The genetics behind platinum group uptake by plants.