£2.2 million research project into purifying biomass feedstocks launched

The UK’s Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) has launched a new project to investigate how removing impurities from sustainable biomass feedstocks can improve the efficiency and effectiveness of biomass energy.

Biomass feedstocks specialist Forest Fuels and energy company Uniper Technologies will work with the ETI in a £2.2 million (EUR 2.6 million) project to explore how improvements in the feedstock processes can remove impurities and contaminated material. It is hoped the study will quantify the level of efficiency gains and financial savings that can come from improving the quality of biomass foodstocks.

The ETI is an industry and government funded research partnership into low carbon energy system planning and technology development created to address UK energy and climate change targets.

A prototype plant will be built to pre-treat biomass feedstocks at Forest Fuels’ depot in Nottinghamshire in the first stage of the project. The cleaned feedstocks will then be blended and combustion tested at the University of Sheffield. The University of Leeds meanwhile, will test the ash produced from the combustion process.

"A lot of waste wood currently ends up in landfill sites or is used in incinerators," said Geraint Evans, ETI bioenergy programme manager, in a press release. "This project will take waste wood, wash it and blend it to remove impurities to make it as clean as possible in the lowest cost way. By removing such impurities this will lead to improvements in the efficiency of biomass boilers and the feedstocks used within them.

"We want to show that improving the quality of biomass feedstocks in this way is a viable way of increasing the amount of sustainable sources of bioenergy, obtaining more energy from them and delivering improved greenhouse gas savings. The intention is that once the process has been proven and tested it could then be used on other bioenergy crops and scaled up to treat larger amounts of material creating even greater efficiencies."

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