Published on 03/11/2021
Biochar Birmingham EBRI Aston University


•     Ten businesses within the Greater Birmingham and Solihull areas to be picked to live trial new biochar technology to help combat climate change

•     The project is linked to the new Urban Biochar greenhouse gas reduction and sustainable materials demonstrator which is now installed at horticultural nursery site on outskirts of Birmingham

•     The project is being delivered by the Energy and Bioproducts Research Institute (EBRI) based at Aston University after being granted Local Growth Fund (LGF) funding from the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP).


Up to ten businesses from in and around Birmingham and Solihull will be given the chance to trial a ground-breaking project launched during COP26 to help combat climate change through the use of biochar.

The call-out, which is for companies wanting to make the move towards becoming carbon neutral, has come from the Energy and Bioproducts Research Institute (EBRI) based at Aston University. It follows the launch of its new urban biochar greenhouse gas reduction and sustainable materials generator earlier this year.

The chosen ten will be guided by the experts at EBRI into how they can use biochar, a sustainable form of charcoal made from organic waste, and how it can be used for practical purposes.

The fuel for the trial will be sourced from the new state-of-the-art equipment which was built at a horticultural nursery on the outskirts of Birmingham, which is now producing biochar from urban tree waste from around the city.

The project, called the ‘Urban Biochar and Sustainable Materials Demonstrator’, is being led by the Energy and Bioproducts Research Institute (EBRI) based at Aston University and is being funded by Local Growth Fund (LGF) from the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP), as well as the EU European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

The equipment, which was delivered and installed at Birmingham City Councils Cofton Nursery near the Lickey Hills in August, is now used to process tree waste produced around the city and Solihull area, using a thermal conversion process to create the biochar.

Biochar has a variety of uses, including carbon capture, water treatment, soil improvement, odour control and industry applications.

Tim Miller, director of engagement at EBRI, said he hoped many businesses would step forward to be involved in such an exciting project which would help them move towards their own sustainable standards in the coming years.

“With the talks at COP26 ongoing over these next few days, now is the perfect time for us to do the call out to businesses to step forward and benefit from such incredible technology.

“The ten ‘live use’ case trials will be able to demonstrate how biochar can be used for practical purposes, for decarbonisation and for work to improve the land as a soil amender. The businesses can be any size. What we are looking for is places that people can use this biochar material. It maybe green roofs, or hydroponics, green walls, it maybe they are doing some sort of property development and want to look to see how they can reduce the greenhouse gas balance impact of their property. Or perhaps they are going through the process of planting trees and want to be able to use the biochar which will help store carbon in the ground and increase tree growth,” he added.

Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP) Net Zero Board Champion, Councillor Ian Courts, Leader of Solihull Council added: “GBSLEP has invested in projects to drive the growth of our low carbon and energy technology sector. The £306,000 grant from our Local Growth Funding has enabled this state-of the-art equipment to be installed.

“It will convert tree waste from homes across Solihull and Birmingham into a sustainable energy use for our businesses. This project is a fantastic example of how we are locally supporting the Government’s Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution.”

For further details about the plant, email or call 0121 204 3383.


Notes to editors

About Aston University

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


Aston University was named University of the Year 2020 by The Guardian and the University’s full time MBA programme has been ranked in the top 100 in the world in the Economist MBA 2021 ranking. The Aston MBA has been ranked 12th in the UK and 85th in the world. The University also has TEF Gold status in the Teaching Excellence Framework. 


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The Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP) is a partnership of business, public sector and further and higher education. Its mission is to drive sustainable economic growth across the city-region, creating jobs and improving the quality of life for everyone.

The GBSLEP area spans nine local authority areas: Birmingham, Solihull, East Staffordshire, Cannock  Chase, Lichfield, Tamworth, Redditch, Bromsgrove and Wyre Forest. It is home to over two million people, an estimated 848,000 jobs and an economy worth £44.5 billion.

Since 2010, the government has awarded GBSLEP £433 million to invest in a range of projects to grow the local economy. These include transport infrastructure, skills development, business support, innovation, and cultural and creative assets. GBSLEP is on course to secure more than £300 million of additional public and private investments, which will create a further 29,000 jobs and 7,000 new homes.

Since 2010, more than 130,000 new private sector jobs have been created across Greater Birmingham and Solihull. Last year, the area generated a 4.7% increase in economic growth – making it the fastest growing core city LEP in area in the country. More than 7,000 businesses have been supported by the GBSLEP Growth Hub in the past two years.

For more information about GBSLEP, please visit the website, subscribe to its newsletter or follow on Twitter and LinkedIn.


Midlands Engine

The government is committed to making the Midlands an Engine for Growth in the UK, increasing economic growth and improving the quality of life for everyone. The Midlands is home to over 10 million people and over 780,000 businesses. Its economy is worth £217.7 billion. So far the government has awarded £1.9 billion in three rounds of Growth Deals across the Midlands. 8 Enterprise Zones have been established in the Midlands Engine since 2012, and 3 zones have been extended. By March 2016 these had attracted almost £1 billion of private investment, and created 85 new businesses and 7,291 jobs.

This project part funded by the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (and in London the intermediate body Greater London Authority) is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund. Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. For more information visit

European Regional Development Fund

Local Growth Fund

Local Enterprise Partnerships are playing a vital role in driving forward economic growth across the country, helping to build a country that works for everyone.

That’s why, by 2021, Government will have invested over £12bn through the Local Growth Fund, allowing LEPs to use their local knowledge to get all areas of the country firing on all cylinders. Analysis has shown that every £1 of Local Growth Fund invested could generate £4.81 in benefits.

Further information

If you would like some further facts about the Fund, or the wider regeneration work going on across the country, please contact DCLG press office by emailing in the first instance to request any additional information you might need.

Some additional key facts:

There are 38 LEPs covering the whole of England The government has awarded £9.1bn in three rounds of Growth Deals to local areas to drive economic growth. LEPs are investing in a wide range of projects informed by detailed analysis of the most pressing economic needs in each of their areas, including transport, skills, business support, broadband, innovation and flood defences.



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