HRH The Princess Royal talks to Prof Andreas Hornung (EBRI) and Dr James Waterson (HAUC)

Princess Royal visits EBRI bioenergy technology

29 October 2012HRH The Princess Royal has seen the latest in bioenergy technology developed by Aston University researchers from the European Bioenergy Research Institute (EBRI).

The Princess toured the EBRI Pyroformer™ demonstration plant currently based at Harper Adams University College in Shropshire as part of a European Union INTERREG IVB project – BioenNW. BioenNW sees 14 European partners, including the European Bioenergy Research Institute (as the Lead Partner) and Harper Adams University College, working together to support the development of small-scale, local innovative bioenergy schemes in five countries across North West Europe.

The Pyroformer™ – developed by Professor Andreas Hornung of EBRI – uses waste products to generate cost-effective heat and power and for the last 10 months, Harper Adams University College has been the demonstration site for the Pyrofomer™.

The Pyroformer™ overcomes many of the problems other renewable energy solutions have generated. Tests have shown that unlike other bioenergy plants, the Pyroformer™ has no negative environmental or food security impacts. It can use multiple waste sources and therefore does not require the destruction of rainforests or the use of agricultural land for the growth of specialist bioenergy crops. In fact biochar – one of its by-products – can even be used as a fertiliser to increase crop yields.

EBRI researchers have been working closely with researchers at Harper Adams to successfully test a wide range of feedstocks for the Pyroformer™ including wood, sewage sludge, straw from rape, wheat and rice, glass clippings and dried anaerobic residues.

Harper Adams has used the Pyroformer™ to add value to its existing anaerobic digestion process, whereby heat and power is generated by burning gasses collected as food and farm waste breaks down in controlled tanks. The residue from the anaerobic digestion process can be used as a feedstock for the Pyroformer™ and means an additional 25% heat and power can be achieved from the original source. Later this year, the Pyroformer™ will be relocated to the newv£16.5m European Bioenergy Research Institute building funded by the European Regional Development Fund and currently under construction on the Aston University campus following its trial phase at Harper Adams.

Professor Andreas Hornung, Head of EBRI at Aston University, said: “I am delighted that the European Bioenergy Research Institute has been able to show this new, sustainable energy solution to the Princess. As well as the provision of cost effective heat and power, we believe our technology could be a key stimulator of growth and jobs in the region and dramatically reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill. It is an honour to have our innovative bioenergy technology recognised by Her Royal Highness.” 

The Pyroformer™ tour was part of Her Royal Highness’s official visit to Harper Adams University College to open a new £1.6million student residence. During her visit the Princess also visited the site of a new engineering building that will be home to the National Centre for Precision Farming – due to open in 2013 – and saw agricultural engineering in practice when she toured the Soil Hall, an “indoor field”, where aspects of the environment can be managed to provide controlled test conditions for agricultural and off-road vehicles and equipment. The Princess last visited the University College in 2009.

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For further information and images, please contact Louise Russell, EBRI Marketing & Communications Officer at or 0121 204 4637.