Sustainable feedstocks for renewable fuels
We want fuels to be both renewable and sustainable. That means fuels from sustainable feedstocks – materials that don’t compete with human or animal food supplies, don’t add to environmental pressures, and benefit people locally, as well as globally.
What do sustainable feedstocks look like?
An important part of our work is researching sustainable feedstocks for renewable fuels. Many of these feedstocks are waste materials. For example, we’ve several projects studying by-products from agriculture, which often look like a disposal problem rather than an energy source. We also study different types of food and animal waste, and biological effluent from industrial processes.
We also study non-food crops that could be grown for energy production. When we do, we’re careful not to compete with food supply or increase food costs. We avoid increasing environmental pressures on water, land or transport. And we avoid any risk of impacting biodiversity of existing ecosystems. We especially like multi-purpose crops where there’s more than one useful product.
Proving the concept
In all projects, our aim is to take an idea from the laboratory and show that it’s possible to a pilot scale – ready for the next step of commercial development. Feedstock work is interdisciplinary – we may be using biotechnology or biochemistry to show that a material has potential; analytical and process chemistry to work out how to develop that potential, and engineering to show it happening in the real world. We have extensive laboratory and pilot plant facilities on the Gloucestershire Science & Technology Park. We’re equipped for biochemistry, microbiology and analytical chemistry. And we also use our environmental and business expertise to show whether the idea is sustainable and economically viable.