Aston University researchers pioneer portable biofuel facility

Aston University has developed new technology to convert waste and residues, such as babywipes, into biofuel.

Aston University has developed the portable facility which it says will make biofuel production easier for rural businesses. Photo: Aston University

Aston University has developed the portable facility which it says will make biofuel production easier for rural businesses. Photo: Aston University

The midlands university has designed the Pyrofab, a prototype biofuel production facility. Designed to be portable and compact, Aston University says the Pyrofab offers small and rural businesses a source of onsite fuel generation.

The technology developed by the European Bioenergy Research Institute (EBRI) at Aston University can convert organic waste materials such as food waste, domestic waste, manure and even baby wipes.

The Pyrofab can fit into two shipping containers for easy transportation and deployment. The design means waste can be locally sourced and encourages energy diversity.

The prototypes are set to tour North West Europe as part of a showcase by bioenergy group BioenNW.

Professor Tony Bridgewater, director of the EBRI said: “When you think about our future energy security and sustainability, baby wipes and leftovers might not be the first things that spring to mind.

“Through the BioenNW project, partners are using EBRI developed technology to put waste at the forefront of the race to meet Europe’s biggest energy challenges.”

Unlocking the market

The bioenergy market in the UK is expected to be worth £12bn within a decade and the European Commission estimates bioenergy could account for up to two thirds of European renewable energy generation.

Professor Bridgewater added that the technology unlocks the potential of waste to produce sustainable biofuels. “This has the potential to change a significant liability for businesses and local authorities across North West Europe into a home grown resource, to reduce waste management costs and generate new revenue streams through the derived products.," he said.

“It could also play a significant part in delivering Europe’s environmental targets and improve energy security; making use of our own resources to reduce the need for imports.”

Recent reports have estimated producing biofuels from waste could fuel the creation of 36,000 jobs in the UK and save 37m tonnes of oil use per year by 2030.

Matt Field


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