International Bioenergy Conference 2014

The Bioenergy conference was jointly run by the BBSRC Bioenergy Centre (BSBEC) and the ESPRC SUPERGEN Bioenergy hub and focused on a wide range of bioenergy topics including national and global bioenergy perspectives, feedstock, conversion technologies, potential impacts and current and future policy.

I was involved in a combustion session, with a poster and a flash presentation on the Bio Cap UK project, which I am involved in as part of my PhD project. The conference was the first that I have presented at so I was quite nervous on the day before hand.  The Bio Cap UK project is a joint project between the University of Leeds, the Tyndall Centre at Manchester University, the University of Edinburgh and a range of industrial advisors, looking at the potential of biomass  and coal combustion with Carbon Capture and Storage to produce a potentially carbon negative technology. The importance of bioenergy CCS was mentioned several times in the keynote speaker presentations by the Energy Technologies Institute and the International Energy Agency, this made me think that my PhD might just be relevant to the real world and that actually some of what I am doing might just help rather than just having a thesis sitting on a shelf that no one ever reads.

The conference itself offered parallel sessions looking at several different aspects of bioenergy. The only session that unfortunately was oversubscribed (and as a result there wasn’t a spare seat in the house) was the biomass sustainability session. Unfortunately I was unable to get in to the session but I had seen one of the key speakers before and remember the difficulty in sourcing truly renewable biomass of the quality required in power generation. The most interesting session that I attended was the Novel Conversion Technologies with presentations on biomass production in the brewing industry and ‘Power from Poo’ which generates gas and electricity from waste water treatment plants. 

The whole event was setup to encourage networking and the posters were displayed for the 3 days that the conference ran in a main hall. This gave everybody plenty of time to see the wide range of research work that is currently being undertaken by a wide range of disciplines. This was continued at both the drinks reception arranged by Supergen on the first night and the conference dinner held at Manchester Cathedral in the city centre, an amazing venue for a gala dinner.

I have to say the conference was a fun event that allowed me to meet new people from a wider range of disciplines than I usually work with.  From this I was able to gain a better understanding of all the competing technologies and the challenges we are facing as a society if we want to mitigate the effects of climate change. On a personal note I felt that my first presentation went well and I am currently (tentatively) looking at future conferences that I can present my future work.