With significant forest cover biomass is an important source of energy in Scotland. ETP universities are working with industry to contribute to the development of the Bioenergy industry in Scotland to reduce CO2 emissions, add to the carbon sequestration potential, enhance rural economies and help meet renewable energy targets.
ETP expertise in Bio-Energy
Biomass production systems
Sustainable production of biomass for bioenergy is essential to meet the low carbon agenda. ETP scientists are working on agronomy of short rotation coppice, and a range of oil seed crops suitable to grow in Scotland. Micro and macro algal crops are also being investigated. A key barrier to the biological processing of lignocellulosic crops for liquid fuels is being studied and biochemical and genetic solutions are being sought. Land use, life cycle analysis and carbon modelling are all being investigated to ensure the development and deployment of sustainable systems.
Harvesting, transport, storage and pre-processing of biomass are key elements in the supply chain which are being studied by ETP engineers.
There is a range of thermochemical process that can use biomass as a source of fuel. Biomass can be combusted, gasified or pyrolysed to produce heat, electricity, transport fuels and even hydrogen. Key issues being addressed by ETP scientists are fuel characterization, characterization of emissions, catalytic processes to convert syngas from gasification into Fischer-Tropsch hydrocarbons.
Bio diesel can be produced from crops rich in lipids such as oil seed rape or algae, or animal fats via physical extraction of the oil and then transesterification. Key issues being addressed are fuel characterization, processing the co-products and engine testing.
Anaerobic digestion can be utilised to breakdown organic materials such as vegetable processing co-products, seaweeds or domestic wastes in a controlled process to produce methane. The methane can be burnt directly to give heat, upgraded and injected into the gas grid or converted to hydrogen via steam reforming. All aspects are being investigated by ETP universities.
Fermentation of sugar or starch rich biomass, either from crops or co-products from the biomass processing industries can be used to produce ethanol or butanol, depending on the type of microorganisms used.
Microbial fuel cells
These are devices which utilize the catalytic reaction of microbes to convert chemical energy to electrical energy, i.e. the direct conversion of organic matter to electricity using bacteria. These have a range of potential applications including clean-up of contaminated water.
The scientists and engineers within ETP embrace many different disciplines to further their research and development of Bioenergy technologies:
- Terrestrial and marine biomass production systems
- Plant breeding
- Chemical and materials characterisation Resource economics and land use studies Carbon and lifecycle analysis Technoeconomic analysis
- Biochemical processing Bioengineering Thermochemical processing Catalysis
- System design
- Process engineering