ECCI helps launch major new Biofuel project

14 November 2012

Forestry and agricultural waste, seaweed and paper could soon be used to power businesses across Scotland.

That is the ambition of the new Scottish Biofuel Programme, which officially launched last week following a £1.6 million investment.

The body was funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), Scottish Government and Scottish Enterprise and brings together Scotland’s leading biofuel experts for the first time.

Led by the Biofuel Research Centre at Edinburgh Napier University, the Scottish Biofuel Programme is a partnership between five Scottish Universities and research institutions.

The University of Abertay Dundee, Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS), Scottish Agricultural College (SAC) and Edinburgh Napier will work alongside the University of Edinburgh represented by the UK Centre for Biochar and Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation (ECCi) to help small and medium sized businesses develop low carbon technologies, products and services.

Ed Craig, Head of Business Innovation for ECCi said: “We are delighted to be part of this important project which complements our own innovation, policy and skills support initiatives working with small and large businesses and organisations.”

This Government backed partnership is aimed at helping Scottish SMEs to achieve exactly that goal and we will provide a business and R&D support base to grow the biofuel sector in Scotland.”

At the launch a special exhibition will showcase the group’s expertise on biochar, anaerobic digestion and sustainable biofuels.

 Case studies on show will include:

  • Changeworks Recycling – the recycling company worked with Edinburgh Napier’s Biofuel Research Centre and discovered Tetra Paks, paper and cardboard could be converted in to biobutanol to fuel their transport vehicles.

  • Sustainable Project Partners – the SME worked with scientists from SAMS on bioethanol production from seaweed.

  • Wessex Water – the University of Edinburgh’s UK Biochar Research Centre (UKBRC) produced a comprehensive feasibility study of the company’s best options in terms of energy, cost and carbon savings to add value to biosolids and help them move towards a more sustainable future.

  • Abertay University has worked with a number of Scottish SMEs on the conversion of organic residues from agriculture and the brewery and distillery industries. Other projects have included converting household organic wastes, biosolids from municipal water treatment plants and seaweed, to methane gas.

SMEs can apply to the programme’s Business Innovation Fund, which has a total volume of £70k per year available. Grants will be awarded on a competitive basis and will allow businesses to exploit existing and future research commercially as well as to conduct feasibility studies.

Fergus Ewing MSP Minister for Energy, Enterprise & Tourism will give a speech at the event. He said: “Scotland is well placed to become a world leader in the production and use of sustainable biofuels with the huge environmental and commercial benefits that would bring – creating jobs and new income streams; making use of waste materials as well as contributing to reducing our transport-related carbon emissions.” 

The Scottish Government is very pleased to be supporting this collaboration between a broad partnership of some of Scotland’s key research institutions, to bring expertise and advice on biofuels within reach of organisations across the country.”

Julian Pace, rural director at Scottish Enterprise, said: "The idea of creating revenue from waste material offers a great opportunity for SMEs to exploit, particularly those in rural areas of Scotland. We need to help our businesses understand how this could impact their bottom line, help grow their business and in turn contribute to the Scottish Government's ambitious low carbon targets."

The Scottish Biofuel Programme will receive £582k of co-funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) over three years. It has secured £250k from Scottish Enterprise, £250k from the Scottish Government and additional match-funding from the five partner institutions.

Linked articles

  • CASE STUDY: Celtic Renewables- a spin-out from Edinburgh Napier University, using technology developed at the Biofuel Research Centre. Celtic Renewables produces next generation biofuel from the by-products of biological industries – initially focused on the £4m Scottish Malt Whisky Industry. ECCI provided Carbon Accounting analysis to develop product design & provide a strong case to investors. 

  • Celtic Renewables' Mark Simmers pitches at ECCI's Live Pitch session at the Scottish Low Carbon Investment Conference.

  • Mark Simmers on what it take to be a a successful entrepreneur at ECCI's 'Meet the Entrepreneur' event