Aston Uni gets set for bio-energy switch-on

Redhall Jex is nearing completion of a nine month contract to build a bio-energy plant located within a new facility on the Aston University site in Birmingham.


Aston University Bio-energy Plant

Aston University Bio-energy Plant


The Redditch-based engineering solutions company has installed plant and equipment, and manufactured and installed all of the pipework systems within the plant.

The new facility, funded by the University and the European Regional Development Fund, will generate heat and power from biomass using algae, sewage sludge, wood and agricultural waste as sources of fuel.

Biomass is plant matter used either to generate electricity (via steam turbines or gasifiers), or to produce heat (via direct combustion), or both – as is the case at the Aston University bio-energy plant.

The plant will also produce biomass by-products, including hydrogen power for low carbon vehicles or fuel cells.  Another by-product, Biochar, stores the carbon that the bio-energy process removes from the environment and is a charcoal that makes an excellent agricultural fertiliser.

As a result, biomass-derived energy holds the promise of reducing carbon dioxide emissions; a significant contributor to global warming. Although the burning of biomass releases as much carbon dioxide as the burning of fossil fuels, biomass burning does not release “new carbon” into the atmosphere, which the burning of fossil fuels does.

It’s believed that bio-energy will play a key role in the UK achieving its EU Renewable Energy Directive – a target of 15 per cent from renewable by 2020.  The City of Birmingham is aiming for a Co2 reduction of 60 per cent by 2026.