Industrial biotechnology research and development

Biomaterials can be transformed or modified by microbes, enzymes and other agents derived from bio-organisms (biological processes) into biofuels, bioplastics such as PHA and other products. Scion is developing biological processes to use wood and other biomass feedstocks to create new products to support growing circular and bio-based economies.

Industrial fermentation

We have a 100 L bioreactor with controlled temperature, pH, redox, oxygen content and stirring. This produces sufficient quantities of material for further processing. Our setup also includes a continuous centrifuge for rapid harvesting of biomass or supernatants containing biofuel or biochemicals. The equipment is in a PC2 fermentation laboratory, allowing us to work with imported or genetically modified organisms.

Read about:

Watch a video about industrial fermentation at Scion [YouTube]

Our research focusses on:

  • Converting the carbohydrates in wood and other sources into ethanol and other alcohols including wood treatment, converting carbohydrates into simple sugars (saccharification) and fermentation
  • Microbial production of bioplastics such as PHAs (polyhyrdroxlalkanoates)
  • Producing biochemicals from biopolymers such as lignin, adding value to an industry side stream and supporting biorefinery development

Find out about using our expertise and facilities.


Christophe Collet, Team Lead, Microbial Biotech

Gareth Lloyd-Jones, Research Group Leader, Forest Genetics and Biotechnology


Our work includes gene data mining (genome analysis) to discover and develop new biocatalysts. We also look for new microbes from the environment, in the guts of wood eating organisms, including New Zealand termites and the huhu (Prionoplus reticularis) grub.

Listen to a story on our work with termites [Radio NZ]
Read about what we found in the huhu’s puku (stomach)


Gareth Lloyd-Jones, Research Group Leader, Forest Genetics and Biotechnology