Birmingham ‘innovation hub’ boosts global clean energy prospects

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BRITISH and German energy experts from industry and academia are creating a new Birmingham-based ‘Innovation Hub’ to deliver new approaches to energy and waste management to benefit communities around the world.

University of Birmingham and Fraunhofer Institute for Environmental, Safety, and Energy Technology have renewed their Joint Research Platform set up in 2016 with plans to locate collaborative research in a new centre at the city’s Tyseley Energy Park.

Professor Martin Freer, Director of the Birmingham Energy Institute, commented: “With our global community consuming more energy than ever before, the demand for energy is rising, yet this increasing demand is occurring at a time when climate change and the use of fossil fuels is a growing concern.

“In establishing the Innovation Hub, we’re looking to develop collaborative research programmes related to waste processing and recycling in particular the development of technologies capable of delivering biofuels.”

Birmingham Energy Institute and Fraunhofer established the Joint Research Platform to combine academic expertise with industrial capability, addressing the practical challenges around energy and waste to get innovative solutions into action.

The partnership between the two institutions has been cemented through a series of new research programmes and development of a Thermo-Catalytic Reformer plant at Tyseley Energy Park.

Thermo-Catalytic Reforming technology has been developed by Professor Andreas Hornung, Chair in Bioenergy at the University of Birmingham and Director of the Institute Branch, Sulzbach-Rosenberg, Fraunhofer UMSICHT.

Prof. Dr. Hornung, commented: “Fraunhofer UMSICHT stands for the provision of high quality energy carriers and raw materials from waste.

“In extending our research cooperation with the University of Birmingham we hope to contribute our expertise in process engineering, especially in thermochemical conversion processes.

“We aim to to implement our solutions for the energy and raw material transition all around the world. With this renewed international research partnership and its emerging links to China, we strongly believe to come a good step closer to this goal.”

Set to open in 2021, the Hub will also link to the creation of a technology transfer centre in China in partnership with Jiangsu Industrial Technology Research Institute in Nanjing and funded through Research England’s International Investment Initiative programme.

A five-year bridge connecting the sister cities of Birmingham and Nanjing with energy and raw materials experts in Germany will see researchers develop new technologies such as energy storage solutions, allowing renewable power to be available ‘on tap’, as well as energy sources and biofuels created from waste.