Aston University has announced the opening of new chemical-engineering laboratories that will focus on transforming plant materials, oils and municipal and agricultural waste into useful forms of renewable energy.
The university invested £650,000 into the laboratories to strengthen its bioenergy research capabilities.
Within the ‘Royal Society-Wolfson Advanced Biofuels and Bioenergy Laboratory’, the university will accommodate its European Bioenergy Research Institute (EBRI). It will focus on biomass-conversion technologies, which is the process of transforming plant materials, oils and municipal and agricultural waste into useful forms of renewable energy.
Bioenergy research projects currently involving Aston University include the £6.2m Supergen bioenergy project. Managed by Aston, it involves 14 research organisations and nine companies delivering a UK centre of excellence in bioenergy and biofuels research and development.
Aston is also working with Severn Trent Water to transform sewage sludge into energy, and Johnson Matthey to transform pyrolysis gases and synthesis gases into fuels for heat and power engines.
Further laboratories, which will contain a combined heat and power plant powered by alternative fuels, and algae tanks to generate heat and power are being built at Aston and are set to open later this year.
’Biomass is the only source of renewable carbon, the chemical basis of all our transport fuels and many of the products we use every day, for example plastic,’ said Prof Tony Bridgwater from Aston’s Bioenergy Research Group. ’Biomass can reduce our reliance on dwindling fossil-fuel levels and these new laboratories will allow us to expand our essential research.’