About Bioenergy

Bioenergy is renewable and sustainable energy made from biological sources such as:

  • Plants such as corn, soya and sunflower (known as biocrops)
  • Wood chippings
  • Rice husks
  • Manure and sewage
  • Commercial, municipal, agricultural and industrial waste.

Bioenergy is the energy stored (sunlight in the form of chemical energy) in living or recently living biological organisms known as biomass. Bioenergy can be used to provide heat, generate electricity and make fuels and it accounts for the majority of renewable energy produced globally.


There are three main waste-to-energy technologies:

  • Biochemical (aerobic, anaerobic, landfill gas collection, biodiesel production, ethanol production)
  • Physiochemical
  • Thermochemical (combustion, gasification, pyrolysis, depolymerisation)

BioenNW is focused on the use of anaerobic digestion and intermediate pyrolysis.

Anaerobic Digestion

Anaerobic Digestion is a series of processes in which microorganisms break down biodegradable material (such as food waste and slurry) in an oxygen free environment. It can be used for industrial or domestic purposes to manage waste and/or to release energy and by doing so it reduces the emission of landfill gas into the atmosphere.

The process produces biogas (containing methane, carbon dioxide and traces of other gases). The gas produced can be used to power CHP engines and the residue (a nutrient rich digestate) can be used as a fertilizer.

Intermediate Pyrolysis

Intermediate Pyrolysis is the process of using heat to break down waste into a form of charcoal (biochar) and gas. The process takes place under elevated temperatures (above 430°C) and pressure. A synthetic natural gas (syngas) is produced and this can be used in gas turbines to produce electricity.

The biochar produced makes an excellent fertiliser, can be burnt as fuel or used in the food industry to replicate smoky flavours. The whole process is not only carbon neutral, it is actually carbon negative as it removes carbon and stores it in the form of the biochar. Biochar, when used as a fertilizer, will hold carbon in the soil for thousands of years.

Pyrolysis also offers the opportunity to process contaminated waste which cannot be put into landfill.

The process separates out the contaminant, such as organic mercury, which can then be sold back as a valuable material to the chemical industry.


Benefits of these bioenergy technologies:

01   Renewable Energy Source

Bioenergy is a renewable energy source. As the world will always be producing waste, this source will continually be renewed.

There is the potential to get 5 kWh per day per person of useful energy from municipal, commercial and industrial waste.

02   No Incineration

It does not involve incineration. One of the main benefits of this bioenergy process is that it does not involve incineration, which means that there is no concern over polluting the atmosphere.

03   Can Be Built Anywhere

Bioenergy Power Plants are suitable for conurbations. As the process does not involve incineration it does not require a large building.

Bioenergy plants can be built near to, or on, housing or industrial estates, or even in city centres.

A bioenergy power plant could be housed at the back of a factory or office block that it then powers.