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UK bioenergy network secures £6.4 million continuation

Aston University led a successful, multi-million pound bid to continue the UK's largest Bioenergy R&D consortium, SUPERGEN Bioenergy, for a further four years. 

The EPSRC-funded £6.4 million continuation will build on the findings of the first four years of the project and extend the work into promising new areas of bioenergy including renewable transport fuels and biorefineries.

Research and development focuses on nine themes that span the entire bioenergy chain: resources including marine biomass; characterisation and pretreatment; nitrogen; thermal conversion; power and heat; transport fuels and biorefinery; ammonia; and system analysis, complemented by a dissemination and collaboration theme. 

"We decided to continue to concentrate on our core strengths in thermal processing of biomass, especially since this is the clear direction bioenergy is taking in Europe, rather than diluting resources to focus on new areas," said SUPERGEN Bioenergy manager Tony Bridgwater of Aston University.

Work developed in the first four years of the project will be expanded.  SUPERGEN II will devote more attention to lower cost and more varied sources of biomass, like rape straw and bark, because growing competition for high quality biomass is expected to drive up the price in future.

SUPERGEN Bioenergy II welcomes three new academic partners - Forest Research, Imperial College and Policy Studies Institute - to total ten organisations. Jenny Jones of Leeds University will oversee the financial management.

Industrial partners are set to increase from six to eleven companies.  One or more industry mentors will support each of the theme leaders to manage and direct activities.

"Biomass is unique because it is the only source of renewable fixed carbon and thus the world's only renewable source of conventional transport hydrocarbon fuels and renewable chemicals.  SUPERGEN Bioenergy II aims to optimise the use of the UK's limited biomass and support UK industry to develop competitive technology for home use and export," said Tony Bridgwater.

"It takes about one per cent of the agricultural land to supply one per cent of the electricity demand, so a real impact from bioenergy is achievable, and SUPERGEN Bioenergy's research will help to make it possible," said Jenny Jones.

SUPERGEN publishes British Bioenergy News, a biannual newsletter on the latest bioenergy developments in the UK. For a free subscription visit the website: www.supergen-bioenergy.net.

SUPERGEN also runs the Bioenergy Research Forum (BRF) where industry and researchers meet every 6-8 months to discuss and exchange information on bioenergy.  Anyone interested in bioenergy can join the meetings and apply to become an associate member of SUPERGEN free of charge.  For more information on the BRF, SUPERGEN Bioenergy or British Bioenergy News, or to be added to the mailing list for the newsletter, e-mail news bulletin or the BRF series of events, please contact Rob Fenton (r.b.fenton@aston.ac.uk or +44(0)121 2043398).

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