Loughborough University secures DfT funding for biofuels projects

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Lecturers from Loughborough University in the UK have been awarded £200,000 from the Department for Transport (DfT) for research into the development of sustainable bioenergy systems.

The grant has been granted to Dr Jin Xuan, senior lecturer in low carbon processes, Dr Tanja Radu, lecturer in water engineering, and Dr Jonathan Wagner, lecturer in chemical engineering.

It will cover two research projects that will explore the production of biofuel, bioenergy carbon capture, as well as storage and utilisation.

According to the university, Xuan’s project will consider the role of e-biofuel in reducing transport emissions while increasing sustainability. The research will examine the feasibility of a new electrochemical process to produce biofuels while reusing the captured carbon dioxide (CO2).

“In this project, we will develop a new concept of e-biofuel which combines the advantages of both e-fuel (produced from renewable electricity and CO2) and biofuel (produced from biomass) to intensively decarbonise the road transport sector,” said Xuan.

“This project will support us to pioneer the research and innovation in the field of electrochemical synthesis of sustainable fuels and chemicals from biomass and captured CO2. It also provides Loughborough researchers with a new link to the Supergen Bioenergy Hub and the Department of Transport.”

Additionally, a project led by Radu will research algae-based biomethane fuel purification and carbon sequestration.

“The project offers an elegant and exciting solution to the problem of carbon capture and fuel purification, combined with the circular model of algal biomass production to be used for further fuel generation,” Radu said. "By achieving this, we are getting one step closer to the carbon-neutral fuel production, which opens numerous other applications and possibilities for future research."

The funding award was supported by Supergen Bioenergy Hub, which works across academia, industry, government and societal stakeholders to develop sustainable bioenergy systems.

“We’re delighted to make these awards to two such exciting and innovative projects,” said Patricia Thornley, director of the Supergen Bioenergy Hub. “Carbon capture, storage and utilisation in bioenergy is a vital area of research if we are to find solutions that address the energy trilemma of security, affordability and sustainability.”

Transport and Environment Minister Jesse Norman added: “The government is working to make all modes of transport cleaner and greener, and using new technologies to make the UK’s transition to a low-carbon energy future. We are delighted to join Supergen Bioenergy Hub in supporting these projects, and we look forward to seeing the outcomes of the research.”