Research Facilities

The Energy & Bioproducts Research Institute (EBRI) offers state-of-the-art analytical and processing laboratories

The Energy & Bioproducts Research Institute (EBRI) has eight state-of-the-art analytical and processing laboratories, allowing research on a full cycle from fundamental analytical scale through to semi-industrial demonstrator research. Each laboratory is dedicated to a different area of research and includes: characterisation of feedstock and fuels, thermal and high-pressure processing and upgrading of fuels, thermal processing of biomass and waste materials, bioprocessing, synthesis and testing of catalysts, and the characterisation of novel biofuels.

Biomass and Bio-Fuels Characterisation

EBRI’s biomass and biofuels characterisation capabilities span a range of physical and chemical techniques. Dedicated analytical laboratories are equipped with a number of the state-of-the-art equipment that allows determining thermochemical properties of biomass, solid fuels and waste including elemental composition, calorific value, moisture and volatile matter content along with ash content and composition. A wide range of chromatographic techniques (GC-MS, GC-FID, GC-TCD and HPLC) are used for qualitative and quantitative characterisation of bio-crudes and intermediates for upgrading along with biofuels and other organic liquids.

Core Analytical Equipment
  • Elemental analysers (CHNSO, TOC and ICP-IOS)
  • Thermogravimetric analysers (TGA and TGA/DSC)
  • High-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) systems for different chemical component groups incl. phenolics and sugars
  • Gas chromatography systems with different combinations (GC-MS, GC-FID, GC-TCD and micro-GC) for qualitative and quantitative analysis of organic liquids, intermediates and biofuels
  • Bomb calorimeter
  • Karl Fischer (KF) titration analyser for water content analyses
  • Total acid number (TAN) analyser
  • Dynamic viscometer

Thermal Processing Capabilities

EBRI has a long history of developing new techniques for processing biomass and waste, particularly in the field of fast pyrolysis technology with associated research activities relating to feedstock pre-treatment, liquid product collection, analysis and characterisation of the products, and most recently on upgrading the vapours and liquids to refinery feedstock quality hydrocarbons.

Pyrolysis Rigs

Three continuous fluid bed fast pyrolysis rigs (300 g/h, 1 kg/h and 7 kg/h) systems for the production of bio-oil, laboratory-scale intermediate (slow) pyrolysis, two slow pyrolysis auger kilns and fluidised bed gasifiers with on-line gas analysis systems are associated with the thermal processing facilities.

Autoclave Systems

Most recent processing facilities development include series of high-pressure autoclave systems (25 ml – 1 L capacity) used for hydrothermal liquefaction and upgrading studies along with continuous high-pressure Fischer–Tropsch flow reactor (50 bar) for the synthesis of fuels.

Bio-processing facilities

Researchers at EBRI are investigating processes to increase the net energy yield which can be obtained from original waste and residue streams via different biological routes (including enzymatic hydrolysis, fermentation and anaerobic digestion).

Bioreactors

Series of fully automated BIOSTAT bioreactors (with different configurations) are used for easy control of cell growth and bioprocessing (anaerobic digestion or fermentation) studies.

Cultivation Equipment

Current biological research also includes effective exploitation of microalgae for combined waste remediation and bioenergy production, and this research is utilising algal cultivation equipment including algae growth chambers and incubators as well as Varicon Aqua 600 L algal photobioreactor.

Development and Characterisation

EBRI’s catalysis research laboratory is equipped to develop and characterise novel materials and catalysts.

Autoclaves

Our facilities include a suite of atmospheric and high-pressure autoclaves along with multi-position batch reactors for synthesis and testing catalysts.

Reactors

Synthesis and testing reactors are complemented with in situ spectroscopic and crystallographic techniques for solid materials characterisation systems (TPR, including DRIFT, DRUV cells and ATR liquid flow cell), and adsorption techniques (porosimetry, pulse chemisorption) for surface area, porosity and active site analysis of porous catalysts.

Catalysts, Bio-Char and Solid Materials Characterisation

Our equipment includes state-of-the-art integrated microscopy and imaging spectroscopy equipment for the characterisation of solid materials.

Scanning Electron Microscope

Our electron microscope (JEOL-8000) SEM allows for three-dimension material morphology with an Energy Dispersive X-ray (EDS) system for analysis and mapping inorganic elements.

Photoelectron Spectroscopy

Our X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy system (AXIS Supra XPS) is used for surface analysis of solid materials, catalysts and membranes with quantification of surface loadings for chemical state.

Diffraction Analysers

Our X-ray diffraction analyser (Bruker D8 Advance XRD) is useful for the identification and characterisation of crystalline phases in solid materials

EBRI Pilot Plant

The EBRI Pilot Plant is a distributed renewable energy demonstrator. The facility is a microgrid equipped with a biomass gasification plant (1 MWth), a combined heat and power generator (400 kWel), and 10 kW smart bidirectional chargers for electric vehicles.

  • The biomass gasification plant is the largest gasification plant for R&D in the UK. It is a four-storey building with a fully instrumented fluidised bed gasifier for the conversion of biomass into a gaseous fuel.
  • The EBRI microgrid can be fully powered in terms of heat and power by a dual-fuel engine, which is controlled by a demand-side management system.
  • EBRI has one of the UK’s first vehicle-to-grid (V2G) chargers and the UK’s first vehicle-to-grid platform. The platform controls how energy is stored in the cars’ batteries to then be returned to the microgrid, allowing for energy to be monetised flexibly.

People and Contact Us

We welcome collaboration opportunities with academia, government bodies and industry from around the world.

To contact us, email the EBRI Business Support Team, visit Bioenergy for Business or call us on 0121 204 3383.

Energy and Bioproducts Research institute (EBRI)

Aston University

Aston Triangle

Birmingham

B4 7ET