Full Title:Environmental Biotechnology
Module Code:ENVR S8010
Credits: 7.5
Valid From:Semester 1 - 2013/14 ( September 2013 )
Module Delivered in 2 programme(s)
Module Description:This module provides students with a detailed understanding of how molecular biology can be applied to environmental monitoring and ecology, how energy can be generated from biomass and how microorganisms have the ability to deal with toxic substances.
Learning Outcomes:
On successful completion of this module the learner should be able to
  1. Critically assess and analyse the theory and practice of molecular genetic and molecular biology approaches to environmental and ecological research problems.
  2. Compare, contrast and evaluate the fundamental principles, operating criteria and design options for the major methods of production of sustainable energy from biomass and clean technology.
  3. Apply and discuss recombinant DNA techniques in the production of novel plants and microbes to enhance agricultural productivity and environmental remediation.
  4. Apply the obligations of the major legislative and regulatory instruments in relation to energy recovery from biomass and solid waste management.
  5. Formulate informed views on current global and national environmental issues.

Module Content & Assessment

Indicative Content
Environmental Monitoring
• Microbial ecology & Molecular Biology: Molecular genetic techniques used to identify prokaryotes and methods for estimating relatedness between species from genetic data. • Research applications of molecular techniques in the field of behavioural and evolutionary ecology. • Linking processes to organisms: Traditional and molecular techniques used to understand environmentally important processes such as pesticide degradation or consumption of methane. • Biomarkers: Biochemical indicators, immunochemistry, genetic indicators. Bioindicators. Biosensors: immobilisation of enzymes, use of biosensors in environmental monitoring.
• Biomass Introduction: The energy problem, sources of biomass, feedstock sustainability, global patterns of biomass use, review of photosynthesis and the carbon cycle. Thermo-chemical conversion of biomass – solid biomass fuels, pre-treatment, direct combustion, gasification and pyrolysis. • Liquid biofuels – Bioethanol and biodiesel production, E.U. and national legislation, global utilisation and production. • Incineration of MSW – composition of municipal solid waste, incineration process, emission control. Production of landfill gas – degradation processes, landfill gas migration, design and operation of landfill sites, gas collection techniques.
Agricultural Biotechnology
• Applications of Biotechnology in Crop Protection: Engineering plants for improved disease, pest and herbicide resistance. • Applications of Biotechnology in Crop Nutrition: Approaches to improving the efficiency of fertiliser use by crop plants. • Applications of Biotechnology in the Improvement of Crop Quality: Engineering crop plants for improved post-harvest quality and nutritional value. • Biopharming: the use of transgenic plants as bioreactors. • Risks Associated with GMOs: Potential impacts on the environment and human health. Patenting, Regulatory and Other Issues.
Clean Technology
• Fundamentals of clean technology. • Integrated pest management and bio-control of plant diseases. • Microbial polymer production and bio-plastic technology
The following illustrates the types of laboratory investigations to be undertaken in this module:
•The use of enzyme electrodes and modern biosensors. •Fermentation paper waste to bioethanol. •The production of biodiesel from cooking oil. •Assessment of the diversity of silver resistant bacteria in soil. •Protein profile analysis of various fish species.
Site visits
• Short-rotation willow coppice plantation in Clogherhead. • Rapeseed pressing and Biodiesel production facility.
Sample Workshop Topics: • Environmental topics making headlines. Students identify a recent environmental biotechnology news story and try to get behind the headlines to distinguish fact from fiction. • Student-led debate on the ethics and the potential costs and benefits of plant biotechnology. • How healthy is eating fish? A discussion on the bioaccumulation of persistent organic pollutants in fish. • Student-led debate on incineration as a waste management tool.
Assessment Breakdown%
Course Work10.00%
End of Module Formal Examination50.00%

Full Time

Course Work
Assessment Type Assessment Description Outcome addressed % of total Marks Out Of Pass Marks Assessment Date Duration
Other Alternating workshops and tutorials will promote critical thinking and familiarise students with current global and national environmental and sustainability issues. Workshops will facilitate student-led debates and discussions. 5 10.00 0 0 Every Week 0
No Project
Assessment Type Assessment Description Outcome addressed % of total Marks Out Of Pass Marks Assessment Date Duration
Practical/Skills Evaluation Weekly laboratory practicals and site visits will serve to re-emphasise topics covered in lectures. Students must submit a written report on each laboratory session/site visit. They will be expected to present reports which are of professional standard with due consideration to safety aspects, quality assurance and the critical analysis of results with reference to regulatory and/or other appropriate criteria. 2,3 40.00 0 0 n/a 0
End of Module Formal Examination
Assessment Type Assessment Description Outcome addressed % of total Marks Out Of Pass Marks Assessment Date Duration
Formal Exam End-of-Semester Final Examination 1,2,3,4 50.00 0 0 End-of-Semester 0

DKIT reserves the right to alter the nature and timings of assessment


Module Workload & Resources

Workload: Full Time
Workload Type Workload Description Hours Frequency Average Weekly Learner Workload
Practical No Description 3.00 Every Week 3.00
Lecture No Description 2.00 Every Week 2.00
Tutorial No Description 1.00 Every Week 1.00
Independent Study No Description 3.00 Every Week 3.00
Directed Reading No Description 2.00 Every Week 2.00
Total Weekly Learner Workload 11.00
Total Weekly Contact Hours 6.00
This course has no Part Time workload.
Recommended Book Resources
  • A. Scragg 2005, Environmental Biotechnology, 2nd Ed., Oxford University Press
  • G. Boyle 2004, Renewable Energy, 2nd Ed., Oxford University Press
  • L. Bodiguel and M. Cardwell 2010, The regulation of Genetically Modified Organisms, Oxford University Press
  • S. Silveira 2005, Bioenergy: Realising the potential, Oxford University Press
Supplementary Book Resources
  • A. Slater, N.W. Scott, M.R. Fowler 2004, Plant Biotechnology: The genetic manipulation of plants, Oxford University Press
  • J.D. Wall, C.S. Harwood and A.L. Demain 2008, Bioenergy, ASM Press
  • E. Cushion, A. Whiteman and G. Dieterle 2009, Bioenergy Development: Issues and Impacts for Poverty and Natural Resource Management, World Bank Publications
  • H.J. Jordening and J. Winter 2005, Environmental Biotechnology: Concepts and Applications, Wiley-VCH
  • B.A. Koch 2010, Damage caused by Gentically Modified Organisms: Comparitive survey of redress options for harm to persons, property or the environment, SLR
  • 2009, Future Bioenergy and Sustainable Land Use, Earthscan (available on DkIT Dawsonera online collection)
Recommended Article/Paper Resources
  • T. Thamsiriroj, J.D. Murphy 2009, Is it better to import palm oil from Thailand to produce biodiesel in Ireland than to produce biodiesel from indigenous Irish rape seed?, Applied Energy, 86 (5), 595-604
  • Y. Chen, J.J. Cheng, K.S. Creamer 2008, Inhibition of Anaerobic digestion process: A review, Bioresource Technology, 99 (10), 4044-4064
Supplementary Article/Paper Resources
  • V.P. Singh, R.D. Stapleton 2003, Biotransformations: Bioremediation Technology for Health and Environmental Protection, Progress in Industrial Microbiology, 36
  • D.Y.C. Leung, X. Wu, M.R.H. Leung 2010, A review on biodiesel production using catalysed transesterification, Applied Energy, 87, 1083-1095
  • R.E.H. Sims, W. Mabee, J.N. Saddler, M. Taylor 2010, An overivew of second generation biofuel technologies, Bioresource Technology, 101, 1570-1580
Other Resources

Module Delivered in

Programme Code Programme Semester Delivery
DK_SENBI_8 Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Environmental Biology 8 Mandatory
DK_SENVI_8 Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Environmental Bioscience 8 Mandatory