Sustainable Biomass Based Energy Systems to 2020 and Beyond

Biomass and biodegradable wastes are two of the UK’s renewable resources that remain under exploited, and that can help alleviate our dependence on fossil fuels, and contribute to a sustainable energy scenario. The individuals in this application each have unique and complementary experience in the problems associated with the sustainable utilisation of these feedstocks. Their expertise covers many topics including the fundamentals of thermochemical degradation of biomass, detailed analytical chemistry, process design and development through experimental studies, and chemical and computational modelling. Between them, the applicants have developed outstanding research groups in these areas with current research grants of more than 4.4M and more than 500 career academic publications in the field of energy. The research concerns the development of clean, sustainable energy systems, and recovering/development of feedstocks from biomass and waste processing. The groups have the expertise to study fundamental chemistry and process engineering, and to optimize systems through modeling and process design. This includes the development of novel computational approaches for predicting behaviour in the design and development of equipment, machinery and processes. The Platform Grant will enable the establishment of a centre of excellence of international renown in the area of sustainable biomass based energy systems. One scenario for biomass is an energy plant with integrated energy production, clean fuels, high value chemicals or hydrogen production, with pollution control and waste heat/steam for industrial use. The Platform Grant will enable the retention of key researchers, providing medium term investment to coordinate activities on this theme. In some cases, early feasibility studies will be required, in others effort can be immediately directed to building consortia and preparing proposals.Substantial investment is already in place through EPSRC, EU and DTI funded projects, including the SUPERGEN Biomass and Biofuels consortium. Added value will also arise from follow-on projects arising from scoping studies, some of which are outlined in the proposal as well as from ‘third arm’ activities, such as consultancy, local partnerships and project activities. International links would be further exploited through visits and hosting researchers, so that existing collaborations will be strengthened and new ones fostered. By the end of the Platform Grant a world class centre will be established with expertise and facilities to solve emerging challenges in the use of biomass resources for fuels and chemicals and for clean sustainable energy.