Aston joins biomass project

Researchers from AstonUniversity are part of a European-Chinese team that is evaluating the commercial possibilities of cofiring biomass in China’s coal fired power stations. The research team hopes to help cut China’s dependence on fossil fuel and reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.

The €590,000 China EU Bioenergy project is a two year initiative funded by the European Commission.

Those involved in the project believe the potential impact of substituting coal with a CO2 neutral fuel is large. It is estimated that if half of the biomass wastes currently produced in China was utilised in existing power plants it could displace more than 200 million tonnes of coal.

Coal has fuelled China’s emergence as an economic powerhouse and today the country is the world’s largest coal producer and consumer. With over 70 per cent of all energy consumed in China coming from coal, the market is promising for EU companies keen to introduce their cofiring technology to new markets.

Cofiring, which is not currently practiced in China, involves burning coal and biomass together – mainly straw, reed, rice husks, and wastes from crops and wood. Cofiring cuts down on greenhouse gas emissions and can help to reduce global warming because biomass is a ‘carbon neutral’ fuel releasing the same amount of carbon when it is burned as it absorbs while growing.

China‘s economy is complex. Its distributed farms make the logistics of biomass collection and transport challenging. ChEuBio will gather data on the biomass sources and availability, undertake case studies of various plants to assess possibilities for cofiring in China’s coal power plants and determine the commercial potential for cofiring in China.

AstonUniversity’s Bioenergy Research Group will use geographic modelling to evaluate the potential of using various biomass feedstocks in different regions of China, and will help to communicate the findings to the Chinese power industry and policy makers in the country.

China’s distributed farms make the logistics of biomass collection and transport challenging