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Yorkshire, UK researching new waste-derived pellets

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A feasibility study by the Biorenewables Development Centre (BDC), a subsidiary of the University of York, will investigate the commercial production of sustainable, locally-sourced materials to produce biomass boiler pellets in Yorkshire, UK.

It is hoped the new pellets, derived from municipal and woodland waste, will help to reduce the region’s carbon footprint and provide a source of income for nature reserves and other conservation efforts.

According to the BDC, the high price of biomass pellets in York and North Yorkshire threatens the continued operation of wood-fired boilers and could drive up the region’s carbon footprint if they are shut off in favour of fossil fuels. The project will assess the feasibility of producing cheaper pellets.

Researchers will assess waste streams from the sustainable management of Yorkshire’s woodlands, parks, and nature reserves, such as hedgerow clippings and wood chippings, alongside the University of York’s waste streams (food, cardboard, wood) using pilot-scale facilities based at the BDC, near York. The study will also assess the potential for sourcing material from Yorkshire’s forestry industry, and the environmental impacts.

Peter Hurst, lead technologist at the BDC, said the project is an “excellent example” of how the firm’s unique facilities can help to de-risk the innovation process and make the most of renewable, plant-based resources.

“The Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has an ambition to create a carbon-negative circular economy and this study could deliver a real impact in that area,” said David Dickson, chair of the York & North Yorkshire LEP Infrastructure and Joint Assets Board.

“It also has the potential to unlock numerous benefits to waste management, bioenergy, and the land management sector and increase the resilience of local businesses.

“We’re pleased to support this feasibility study with £50,000 (€55,000) secured from the government’s Local Growth Fund and we look forward to seeing how the work develops.”