THYME-funded research helps improve biomass energy production

With the help of a THYME proof-of-concept grant, researchers at the University of Hull have published a scientific paper on new treatment methods to make biomass energy production cleaner and more energy efficient. The research found that treating biomass wastes with low-energy ultrasound helps to optimise their properties for energy production and cut down harmful emissions.

The study investigated ways of enhancing an established form of biomass pre-treatment: water washing. They found that microwave and ultrasound are two technologies which can speed up the pre-treatment process. To achieve the same result, water-washing required 24-hours, whereas microwave only needed four hours and ultrasound (using over 100 times less energy than microwaves), only needed six minutes.

Dr Vasiliki Skoulou, Director of Research in Chemical Engineering at the University of Hull, is the principle investigator on the project. She was joined by Dr Martin Taylor, a Postdoctoral Research Associate and THYME Fellow at the University’s Energy & Environment Institute, and Hassan Alabdrabalameer, from the Department of Chemical Engineering.

Dr Skoulou’s research was kickstarted by a grant from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), as well as support from Energy Works Hull. The project also received support from THYME, through a proof-of-concept grant, to work in collaboration with the Biorenewables Development Centre and Jesmond Engineering.

Dr Jenny Spear, THYME Programme Manager at the University of Hull, said: “Hull has a wealth of expertise in the pre-treatment of biomass for energy production. “Through the THYME project, backed by Research England’s Connecting Capabilities Fund, we are bringing together regional partners, to accelerate these technologies to improve the performance of local industry – producing greener energy.”

Download and read the full paper here.