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Arensis and University of Chester launch joint biomass feedstock research project

US-headed micro-power grid developer Arensis Corp., and the University of Chester have announced the launch of a joint biomass feedstock research project that will trial a range of new waste feedstocks to feed into a decentralised clean energy power system at the University of Chester in the UK.

Detail of an Entrade E3 micro biomass-fired combined heat and power (CHP) unit (photo courtesy Arensis).

A new joint research project recently launched will trial a range of new waste feedstocks to feed into a decentralised clean energy power system at the University of Chester.

The joint project, run by the University and the UK distributed biomass company Arensis, aims to discover which waste materials can be redirected from landfill to create electricity and heat for commercial biomass.

Renewables are playing an increasing part in the provision of energy, however, with that, we’re seeing an increasingly fragmented grid with energy use becoming more and more regionalised. What we’re aiming to do with this project is twofold: Firstly, to create a decentralised microgrid where we can study how solar, storage and combined heat and power (CHP) can work together to explore what the energy systems of the future will look like. Secondly, we’ll be trialling different sources of waste feedstocks and their efficiencies for the CHP system, said Dean Garfield Southall, Executive, University of Chester’s Faculty of Science and Engineering.

A range of feedstocks sources – including household waste, animal and agricultural material and commercial wastes – will be trialled at the University’s Thornton Science Park. The material will be fed into an Entrade biomass combined heat and power (CHP) unit housed within a shipping container to study the output of the generated energy. The heat and electricity generated by the trial will be used in a clean energy microgrid, to explore the decentralised energy systems of the future.

Electricity generated by the biomass converter will go into the microgrid, while we demonstrate how a heat network can be created to supply users of generated heat nearby. We will try to simulate a variety of different loads from a variety of generation and storage technologies with a set of algorithms which can arbitrate and switch between the technologies to study what is most reliable and efficient within the network, said Dean Southall.

Access to UK installations

Arensis aims to demonstrate how commercial operators could use on-site biomass converters to transform waste otherwise bound for landfill to generate clean power and heat for their own operations.

Arensis provides off-grid, sustainable, carbon-neutral energy generation to international customers using market-leading biomass energy generators from its German manufacturer and sister company, Entrade Energiesysteme GmbH. With 185 power systems in operation across the UK, the company says that currently delivers 85 percent of all small-scale biomass generation in the country.

Advantages of using the Entrade units include the speed of set-up, with installation rapid enough for them to be up and running within hours. The units are also easily transported and are scalable, given the units are modular and can be combined for greater capacity.

During the trial, a three-year PhD applicant will have access to an Entrade E3 biomass converter onsite at Thornton. The unit is on loan from Drax power plant where it has been testing wood pellet feedstocks and can generate 25kW of electricity and 60kW of heat from a range of feedstock sources. The student will also be able to access more than 100 Entrade units that Arensis manages across its two Liverpool operations.

We’re excited to be lending our equipment and expertise to the project to show how combined heat and power (CHP) from waste biomass can be integral to the provision of decentralised energy. Importantly this demonstrates how business operators can use biomass converters onsite to transform their commercial waste, into heat and power – lowering their energy consumption and emissions and saving on waste removal costs, said Julien Uhlig, CEO of Arensis.

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