Aston University helping turn paper waste into vital energy

The waste generated by recycling paper is to be converted into energy with help from researchers at Aston University. Working together with PIRA International, a CASE award student will investigate the potential that can be derived from using this waste to a significant advantage.

Established in 1930, Pira provides strategic and technical consulting, testing, intelligence and events to help clients gain market insights, identify opportunities, evaluate product performance and manage compliance. PIRA is the worldwide authority on the packaging, paper and print industry supply chains.

The paper industry is a significant user of energy in the form of electricity to power motors, drives and machinery, and in the generation of steam that is used to heat cylinders and dry the paper sheet. Within the UK, where over 75% of paper products made use recovered paper, there is also significant potential to generate waste by products that can't be used in the paper sheet and need to be disposed of. The rapid rise in the cost of energy and disposal of wastes generated during production together provide a compelling argument for on-site generation of energy from the thermal conversion of paper industry wastes.

The objective of the study is to examine the potential for gasification in the conversion of paper industry wastes to energy that can be either used on site or sold to the grid.

Elements of this will be to develop methods to condition selected paper industry wastes to enable gasification, through trials to quantify the energy recovered through gasification of the selected wastes, identify the advantages of gasification (over other thermal techniques), develop models to quantify economic gain and payback on investment, ensure quantification of benefits in terms of carbon footprint and to examine routes to full scale distributed energy generation at papermaking sites.

The Bio-energy Research Group is one of the world's leading centres for research and development of technology for energy from biomass and wastes. It has specialist skills in gasification theory and modelling, in experimental techniques for feedstock and fuel characterisation and in gas conditioning and cleaning strategies. It also has expertise in the analysis of systems for power and heat production, including economic and environmental assessment.