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Climate-KIC participants about to head off on tour of EBRI's bioenergy demonstration plant

Developing the bioeconomy throughout Europe

Earlier this month, BioenNW lead partner EBRI organised and hosted an event on behalf of Climate-KIC. The event, ‘Developing the bioeconomy throughout Europe’, had a truly European dimension with participants from Hungary, Ireland, Belgium, Germany, Denmark and the UK all in attendance. It took place at EBRI at Aston University in Birmingham on 2nd – 3rd October.

Estimated to be worth over €2 trillion and providing 20 million jobs in the EU, the bioeconomy is set to build a more competitive, innovative and prosperous Europe in which bioenergy has an important role to play.

The course was designed to give participants an insight into why the bioeconomy is key to business and industry. Participants learned how important it is for Europe to maintain competitiveness by using waste and organic residues as a source of energy instead of relying on fossil fuels. The main technologies involved in biomass conversion processes were discussed, as were bioenergy markets, capabilities and software that can enable better decisions to be made about feedstock selection, development locations and technologies throughout Europe. Speakers for day one were Dr Jim Scott, Dr Veronica Mas and Tim Miller, all from EBRI, Chrystelle Verhoest from Laborelec, Anna Maria Currin from BioenNW partner IZES gGmbH, and Will Byrne from Birmingham City University, another BioenNW partner. Participants also had a guided tour of EBRI’s 0.5MW Pyroformer™/Gasifier demonstration Power Plant, part of our facilities on the Aston University campus. The plant is capable of powering the EBRI building, as well as part of the Aston University campus.

On the second day, we organised a site visit to Lower Reule Bioenergy (LRBE), a food waste recycling and Anaerobic Digestion (AD) business operating in the West Midlands. We visited its AD plant, which is situated on the family farm in Gnosall, Staffordshire. The site has been running since 2010 and has the capacity to divert more than 30,000 tonnes of food waste per year from landfill and generate 1.3MW of renewable electricity – enough to supply more than 2,500 local homes and businesses in the surrounding area.

LRBE uses a continuous wet mesophilic AD process. The liquidised food waste is fed into two sealed digester tanks which are kept at approximately 40˚C to provide the optimum environment for the mesophilic bacteria to thrive and break down the food waste to create biogas. The biogas is burnt through two Combined Heat and Power Engines to create electricity. About 4% of the electricity is used to run the plant whilst the remainder is exported to the National Grid. The heat from the engines is re-circulated to heat the digesters and pasteurise the digestate that is taken from the digester tanks after approximately 45 days to produce a high quality fertiliser which is then spread on Lower Reule’s 500 acre farm and the remainder is spread on neighbouring farms. Helen and the team did a fantastic job of showing us around their impressive facility!

There were further sessions in the afternoon from Morten Gylling, University of Copenhagen, and Dr Edward Hodgson at Aberystwyth University.

All participants really enjoyed the course and the feedback has been extremely positive, with all delegates rating the course as ‘Excellent’ or ‘Good’. We really enjoyed orgainising Climate-KIC’s first short course and hope to be able to run another in the future.

Words by Louise Ciaravella, Marketing & Communications Officer
European Bioenergy Research Institute, Aston University, UK