Gasification and urban biochar demonstrators

HyDEX facilities at Aston University

Aston’s Energy and Bioproducts Research Institute (EBRI) hosts the largest gasification plant for R&D in the UK

HyDEX facilities at Aston University

The Gasification Pilot Plant

Aston University’s Energy and Bioproducts Research Institute (EBRI) hosts a unique Gasification Pilot Plant which is a distributed renewable energy demonstrator. The facility is a microgrid equipped with a biomass gasification plant, a combined heat and power generator, and 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 e ngine, which is controlled by a demand-side management system.

The Gasification Pilot Plant at EBRI has expertise and facilities for testing and developing fuel cells with commercial applications in heating and transport.

The plant is used for:

  • The production of hydrogen from gasification processes, including biomass
  • Assessing the potential of pyrolysis in hydrogen-rich gases production
  • Gasification and fuel cell integrated systems

By optimising production, through catalysis and integrating conversion methods such as methanol conversion, the process of providing hydrogen can be enhanced.

HyDEX facilities at Aston University

The Urban Biochar and Sustainable Materials Demonstrator

Aston University’s second demonstrator, which is based at a plant nursery in Birmingham, processes tree cuttings from parks and roadsides in the Birmingham City area. It uses low/intermediate pyrolysis to produce hydrogen and other gases alongside bio-oils, herbicides and biochar. This demonstrator is working to provide heat for greenhouses as well as biochar to help trees and plants to grow.
Operation of the demonstrator is supported by industry partners and also engagement and research staff at the Energy and Bioproducts Research Institute (EBRI) at Aston University.

The demonstrator has been used to develop a regional supply chain of companies able to design, fabricate and supply the specialised equipment needed to process the residues to produce the hydrogen and other products. The creation and operation of the demonstrator has helped these companies gain access to opportunities in UK and export markets. A wider cluster of companies has been established that are able to benefit from both the consumption of residues such as tree shreddings and also the use of the new products that are created. This includes use of hydrogen and other gasses gases in fuel cells, but also industrial heating, use of solids for plant growth enhancement, peat replacement, as a plaster and cement additives, surface coatings, odour control and filtration.

Contact EBRI

EBRI offers visits to the demonstrator along with technical advice and support with business modelling. In addition, case studies and events are being developed to illustrate the commercial potential uses of the demonstrator.

For more information, contact:
Energy & Bioproducts Research Institute (EBRI)
Telephone: +44 (0)121 204 3383

ERA doctoral training
HyDEX facilities at Aston University