Science Bridge 

Business and engineering academics from Aston University and the Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi constructed a combined heat and power plant (CHP) in a remote village in northern India.

Fuelled by crop waste such as rice husks, the 300kw biomass-solar plant provided heat, steam and electricity to downstream plants, which were built as part of this three year project (including a rice mill, fruit and vegetable processing plants and a water distillation unit). The plant allowed regional farmers and their families to access a cheap, renewable and reliable energy source that in-turn can help remote villages to generate an income and escape from a cycle of ‘fuel poverty’.

This includes the conversion of materials such as algae, sewage sludge, seeds, wood and agricultural waste into useful fuels for electricity generation, heating, transport and fertilisers. The combination of solar and biomass power reduces fuel consumption while allowing round the clock operation.

The project included:

  • Mapping specific regions to assess access to existing biomass and renewable energy resources to ensure there is no conflict with existing land for food production.
  • Engaging with communities to assess specific business needs and assessing attitudes to the need and potential of proposed energy technologies both current and future
  • Creating a reliable and small scale CHP system which can be used in the long term by communities and replicated easily in other areas.

The Science Bridge Project consisted of 4 work packages:

Student opportunities

Student opportunities

Support for your business

Support for your business

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SBP WP1 - pic 1
Work package 1

To assess the scope for using wasteland and wastewater resources to cultivate energy crops in selected areas of the UK and India and to implement phytoremediation at 4 sites in India. 

SBP WP2 - pic 4
Work package 2

To implement an intermediate pyrolysis-CHP plant in the UK, reduce its manufacturing cost through redesign and supply chain management, thus proving the concept for the UK and India alike.

Science Bridge Project work package 3

Work package 3

To improve and implement in rural India a tri-generation unit using a biomass-fired boiler and steam turbine, to transfer the unit to microenterprises in India, and to undertake preliminary technology transfer of this small-scale steam-based technology to the UK.

SBP WP4 - pic 4
Work package 4


To implement a hybrid solar-biomass energy plant using a steam turbine in India. 

This three-year, £3m Science Bridge Project, was supported by Research Councils UK (RCUK) and the Indian Department of Science and Technology (DST). The Science Bridge Project consists of people with diverse cultures and backgrounds combining Aston University’s School of Engineering & Applied Science and Aston Business School with expertise from the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi (IITD). The project also investigated renewable biomass technologies in the United Kingdom through Aston University and the European Bioenergy Research Institute.