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SUPERGEN Hub to address burning bioenergy questions

17 Jul 2012

The University of Manchester is heading up a new research hub that will investigate the efficiency and whole-life impact of a variety of bioenergy techniques.

The University of Manchester will explore how to limit greenhouse gas emissions
The University of Manchester will explore how to limit greenhouse gas emissions

Science and Universities Minister David Willetts announced the £3.5m SUPERGEN Bioenergy Hub which will look at ways of accelerating the deployment of sustainable bioenergy.

Funded by a grant from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) as part of the RCUK Energy programme, the Hub spans six research institutions and involves ten industrial partners.

It will start work in August and be directed by Dr Patricia Thornley of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at The University of Manchester.

Initially the hub will address 10 research projects ranging from turning biomass into transport fuels to capturing carbon dioxide from burning biomass feedstocks.

Mr Willetts said: “Research and innovation play a vital role in our transition to a low carbon economy. The SUPERGEN BioEnergy Hub will bring together leading academic and industrial partners to look at this pressing challenge and develop practical solutions for a greener future.”    

Dr Thornley said: “The SUPERGEN Bioenergy Hub is going to really drill into a whole host of bioenergy prospects.

“It is not just going to look at what will work practically, in terms of generating power, but also the impact of such technologies. This is vitally important; we have to look at the sustainability of these new avenues.”

Two of the projects will focus on reducing emissions from biomass combustion.  One will involve practical measurement work on real boilers, trying to identify cost effective methods of reducing particulates and other atmospheric pollutants at small scale.

Additionally, a fundamental scientific study will focus on identifying key markers for emissions from fuel analyses.

Professor David Delpy, EPSRC’s Chief Executive, said: “The scientific research carried out through the SUPERGEN Bioenergy Hub can help us discover new and better ways of making fuels, generating power, managing carbon emissions and create economic opportunities for the UK. 

“The Hub will act as a focal point, bringing industry, academia and other stakeholders together to focus on the challenges associated with bioenergy and its role in meeting environmental targets.” 

Notes for editors

Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)

1.    The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is the UK’s main agency for funding research in engineering and the physical sciences. EPSRC invests around £800 million a year in research and postgraduate training, to help the nation handle the next generation of technological change. The areas covered range from information technology to structural engineering, and mathematics to materials science. This research forms the basis for future economic development in the UK and improvements for everyone’s health, lifestyle and culture. EPSRC works alongside other Research Councils with responsibility for other areas of research. The Research Councils work collectively on issues of common concern via Research Councils UK.

The Research Councils UK (RCUK) Energy Programme

2.    The SUPERGEN Bioenergy Hub is part of the RCUK Energy programme which is led by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). The Energy programme is investing more than £625 million in research and skills to pioneer a low carbon future. This builds on an investment of £839 million over the past eight years.  The SUPERGEN Bioenergy Hub will complement the work of the BBSRC Sustainable Bioenergy Centre and the centres will  be working closely to provide sustainable renewable sources of energy for application in the UK and globally.

The Tyndall Centre

3.    The Tyndall Centre, created in 2000, is a University partnership for interdisciplinary and policy-useful research into climate change mitigation and adaptation. With its Headquarters at the University of East Anglia, the partnership comprises Institutes of the Universities of Manchester, Oxford, Newcastle, Southampton, Sussex, Cambridge, Cardiff and Fudan University in Shanghai.

4.    SUPERGEN Bioenergy Hub Partner Institutions
Aston University, University of Bath, University of Leeds, University of Manchester, Newcastle University and Rothamsted Research.
Industrial Partners
Drax, Progressive Energy, Renewable Energy Association, North Energy Associates,
Sustainable Energy Ltd, Renewable Energy Systems Carbon, Greenacres, Biomass Energy Centre, Danish Tecnologik Instituit, Dalkia

5.    The University of Manchester

The University of Manchester, a member of the Russell Group, is one of the largest and most popular universities in the UK. It has 20 academic schools and hundreds of specialist research groups undertaking pioneering multi-disciplinary teaching and research of worldwide significance. According to the results of the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise, The University of Manchester is one of the country’s major research institutions, rated third in the UK in terms of ‘research power’. The University had an annual income of £809 million in 2010/11.