Published: 10 July 2013

University wins £442,000 grant for major pan-European renewable energy project

The University of Surrey has won a valuable grant for a four-year project to develop the modelling tools and training facilities that will underpin the future of biofuel production.

With Europe’s Renewable Energy Directive stating that biofuels must account for 10% of energy production by 2020, identifying the most viable methods of biofuel production has become a necessity rather than an option for European governments.

University of Surrey will be at the forefront of research into achieving this objective, having secured a £442,000 RENESENG (Renewable Systems Engineering Grant) for a four-year project to create a structure for assessing biofuel production and setting up European PhD training facilities.

The grant is part of an overall project grant of £4.2m, awarded as an FP7 Marie Curie project ITN (Initial Training Network) to a European consortium of major universities and biofuel companies. Along with Surrey, the consortium includes the National Technical University of Athens, Imperial College, École Polytéchnique Fédérale de Lausanne and the Technical University of Denmark, along with ten bio-refining companies including Arkema (France), BPF (Netherlands) and CIMV (France).

The overall aim of the project is to develop synthesis tools, capabilities and a training network for renewable energy, with a focus on bio-refining. Surrey has been tasked with developing a comprehensive and flexible modelling tool to assess feedstock, integrating and improving existing tools. The model will take both a cross-functional approach – assessing feedstock across different criteria such as availability, quality and properties – and an LCA (lifecycle assessment) approach by considering the environmental impact of all aspects of the supply chain. In addition, Surrey will set up a pan-European PhD multi-centre.

The project will be led by Primary Investigator Dr Franjo Cecelja, working with Co-investigators Dr Aidon Yang and Dr Jhuma Sadhukhan.

Dr Cecelja says: “With biofuel production currently requiring government subsidy, and conflict with food production causing further issues, it is imperative for governments and industry to have access to a reliable knowledge-base, tools and training. Already a centre of excellence for renewable energy, Surrey is proud to be part of this project. We see great potential for further research, while the introduction of the multi-centre will be of enormous benefit to the University.”

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