Published on 25/01/2023
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Aston University receives Wolfson Foundation grant to help develop first integrated lab-scale centre to explore low carbon hydrogen production from biomass conversion
  • Grant to help set up first integrated centre to explore low carbon hydrogen production from biomass conversion
  • Centre to be equipped with state-of-the-art technology
  • Will place Aston University at the forefront of hydrogen production and utilisation.

Aston University is to set up the first integrated centre to explore low carbon hydrogen production from biomass conversion. 

The new research centre will be developed at Aston University with the help of a £300,000 grant from the Wolfson Foundation, which will enable the University to acquire state-of-the-art equipment including for gasification, membrane separation and fuel cells. Having these technologies integrated within the new centre will place Aston University at the forefront of hydrogen production and utilisation based on biomass conversion and will strengthen its global research reputation in these areas.

The new equipment will be installed at the University’s campus-based Energy and Bioproducts Research Institute (EBRI), which carries out world-leading research into new and innovative ways of converting biomass into sources of sustainable energy, using thermochemical, biological and catalytic processes. 

It is expected that this research centre will allow national and international collaborations on low carbon hydrogen production and use. The research topics will be closely aligned to both the UK Government’s target to transition to net zero by 2050 and to future sustainable energy worldwide.

Professor Patricia Thornley, director of EBRI, said: “We are delighted to receive this generous grant which will help place EBRI at the forefront of hydrogen technology development in the UK. 

“Researchers have a crucial role to play in supporting new energy technologies and this new facility will contribute to the Government’s 2050 net zero target. 

“As well as all the new opportunities this holistic and novel approach will bring, it will involve diverse stakeholders including policy makers, academics, industrialists, etc.

“I am looking forward to using the new facilities to support industrialists and developers progressing technology scale-up in this important area.”

Paul Ramsbottom, chief executive of the Wolfson Foundation, said: “Aston University’s Energy and Bioproducts Research Institute is well-placed to support the UK’s continuing journey towards achieving net zero. We are delighted to be supporting new facilities which will help them deepen their collaboration with industry in efforts to generate, store and utilise sustainable hydrogen as a viable alternative to fossil fuels. It is a crucial area of research.”

Aston University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Aleks Subic, said: “This new centre will help strengthen Aston University’s place as a national and global centre of expertise for future energy.
“It will build on existing relationships with our industrial partners, facilitate future research collaborations, as well as support teaching of our students to make them better equipped to tackle one of the grand challenges of the 21st century. We are extremely grateful to the Wolfson Foundation for their continued support and for helping to make this centre possible.”

The Wolfson Foundation awards grants for new buildings, refurbishment and equipment to support excellence in the fields of science and medicine, health, education and the arts and humanities. Aston University and EBRI researchers will enormously benefit from this grant which will open various opportunities for national and international collaborations with different stakeholders.

In May, June and September the EBRI plant will be opening its doors to professionals who want to enhance their careers with a short hands-on course in Practical Process Engineering. For more information visit

Notes to editors

The Wolfson Foundation is an independent charity with a focus on research and education. Its aim is to support civil society by investing in excellent projects in science, health, heritage, humanities and the arts.


Since it was established in 1955, some £1 billion (£2 billion in real terms) has been awarded to more than 12,000 projects throughout the UK, all on the basis of expert review.

Twitter: @wolfsonfdn


The academics leading this centre will be Dr Paula Blanco (leading research in biomass gasification), Dr Zhentao Wu (leading research in membranes), Dr Amir Amiri (leading research in fuel cells), and Dr Clara Serrano (technical support).


About Aston University

Founded in 1895 and a university since 1966, Aston is a long-established university led by its three main beneficiary groups – students, business and the professions, and the West Midlands region and wider society. Located in Birmingham at the heart of a vibrant city, the campus houses all the University’s academic, social and accommodation facilities for our students. Professor Aleks Subic is the Vice-Chancellor & Chief Executive.

In 2022 Aston University was ranked in the top 25 of the Guardian University Guide, based on measures including entry standards, student satisfaction, research quality and graduate prospects. The Aston Business School MBA programme was ranked in the top 100 in the world in the Economist MBA 2021 ranking.

For media inquiries in relation to this release, contact Nicola Jones, Press and Communications Manager, on (+44) 7825 342091 or email:


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