Aston power plant & plans for a “thermal ring”
What kind of lab is useful for a chemical engineer whose research is about how to convert biomaterials into energy? The answer is, of course, a power plant.
And that’s exactly what New Optimist Andreas Hornung is about to get. The European Bioenergy Research Institute (EBRI), where he’s the boss, is part of Aston University. They’ve got the go-ahead for £16.5M investment in labs and a small-scale industrial power plant which will convert biomass (sewage, sludge, algae, wood and agricultural waste et al) into electricity for thee and me, using a revolutionary new process that is carbon-negative; i.e. takes carbon out of the system.
Even more exciting than that is the prospect that Birmingham has a “thermal ring” of such power plants around the city. Like many urban environments, we’re energy dependent, waste prolific. Supplies of power, taken for granted for a couple of generations, are looking increasingly vulnerable.
Just as Joseph Chamberlain had the foresight to provide the city with long-term supplies of water, so has our generation the opportunity to to do what’s needed for the long term supply of power — and, while the while, using the energy-rich ‘waste’ we create to make it.
In 1774 Samuel Boswell said I shall never forget Mr Boulton’s expression to me, I sell here, Sir, what all the world desires to have — Power.
Here’s Andreas talking about the research that already goes on at the EBRI: