The Supergen Bioenergy Hub, based at Aston University, has received the investment to continue its exploration of the use of renewable energy.
The hub is one of three across the UK which contribute to the government’s engineering net zero priority to ensure the country benefits from clean energy research and innovation.
The successful bid was led by director of the hub and of Aston University’s Energy and Bioproducts Research Institute (EBRI), Professor Patricia Thornley.
Professor Manosh Paul and Dr Ian Watson, of the University of Glasgow’s James Watt School of Engineering, are co-investigators at the hub.
They are leading two independent projects supported by the new funding. The projects are titled ‘Net-negative emission Hydrogen-BECCUS (Bioenergy with carbon capture, utilisation and storage)’ and ‘Improving scale-up efficiency and deployment speed for biorefineries.’
The new funding builds on the hub’s bioenergy research which focused on accelerating current generation technologies.
Bioenergy is a significant and increasing UK renewable energy. The UK could have sufficient indigenous biomass and waste to supply over 40% of the UK’s primary energy demand.
The vision of the new impact Supergen Bioenergy Hub is to increase sustainable biomass production in the UK to minimise greenhouse gas emissions.
Established in 2018, Supergen Bioenergy Hub works with academia, industry, government and other groups to develop sustainable bioenergy systems that support the UK’s transition to an affordable, resilient, low-carbon energy future.
It’s funding comes from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), part of UK Research and Innovation.
Professor Thornley said: “Getting the right enabling environment is absolute key to unleashing the massive potential of bioenergy in the UK.
“We are delighted that UKRI – UK Research and Innovation – have recognised the ability of the world class team of investigators in this proposal to deliver a step change in the bioenergy sector.
“We look forward to working with colleagues in industry, policy and academia to incorporate new ideas and information into this exciting new programme of work.”
Professor Manosh Paul said: “I’m delighted to be continuing our partnership with Aston University and colleagues across the UK on the Supergen Bioenergy Hub, and to be leading two independent research projects.
“Reaching net-zero is the most important challenge of our times, and unlocking the potential of bioenergy will be a key achievement to helping us reach those goals.
“This is a key initiative in the UK’s drive to decarbonize its energy sector, and we are excited to work together to develop future generations of bioenergy technologies.”
The grant is part of an overall investment of £55 million in six national research centres to drive forward change in the energy system and help to meet the UK’s net zero target by 2050. 
The centres will boost knowledge, create innovative green technologies and reduce demand for energy to achieve greener, cleaner domestic, industrial and transport energy systems.
Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser, chief executive of UK Research and Innovation, said: “The government has set a target of reaching net zero emissions by 2050, requiring rapid decarbonisation of our energy systems. UKRI is leveraging its ability to work across disciplines to support this ambition through a major portfolio of investments that will catalyse innovation and new green energy systems.
“The funding announced today will support researchers and innovators to develop game changing ideas to improve domestic, industrial and transport energy systems.”
Over the next four years Professor Thornley and her colleagues will be working with key industrial partners. These include Advisian, Alps Ecoscience, Compact Syngas Solutions, Croda, DAABON, Energy Systems Catapult, Engas UK, Future Biogas, Glass Futures, Kew Technology, Progressive Energy, Reheat, Renewable Energy Association, Rolls Royce, Straw Innovations, Wales & West Utilities, Straw Innovations, Terravesta, Uniper.
Academic partners Imperial College, London and the University of York will work with Aston University to support the growth and dissemination of the hub’s work. They will help to prove how sustainable bioenergy technology solutions developed in the UK can work.
The Universities of Surrey, Glasgow, Sheffield and Strathclyde will play key roles in developing innovative and disruptive bioenergy technologies.
Meanwhile Aston University, the University of York, University of Glasgow, Imperial College and the University of Southampton will focus on supplying independent academic perspectives to support development of the sector.