Aston University’s portable baby-wipes-to-biofuels system embarks on summer tour

In the UK, Aston University researchers are taking their prototype, portable Pyrofab technology on a summer tour to evaluate sustainable sources of bioenergy from waste across north-west Europe. The Pyrofab is based on Pyroformer technology, developed in the UK by the European Bioenergy Research Institute (EBRI) at Aston University. The Pyrofab converts carbon from organic waste materials to produce carbon neutral fuel and biochar, a commodity that can be used to improve soil. It has the ability to process a wide range of biomass, residues and wastes. This means that hard to treat sources of waste now have the potential to be used as a feedstock to produce low carbon energy. Feedstocks being tested include food waste, domestic waste, agricultural waste such as pig manure, industrial waste and even baby wipes. 

The Pyrofab is compact, transportable and can work with existing generation technology. This means waste can be locally sourced, reducing the environmental impact of transportation and reliance on overseas imports of biomass such as wood. It encourages energy diversity, helping to protect Europe’s energy supply. What’s more, bioenergy generation isn’t intermittent like other renewables. 

Pyrofab prototypes are set to tour four sites in North West Europe, hosted by partners in an EU INTERREG IVB funded project – BioenNW – and will then return to the UK. 

Professor Tony Bridgwater, Director of the European Bioenergy Research Institute at Aston University and ranked in the Digest’s Top 125 People in the Advanced Bioeconomy, said: “When you think about our future energy security and sustainability, baby wipes and leftovers might not be the first things that spring to mind. Through the BioenNW project, partners are using EBRI developed technology to put waste at the forefront of the race to meet Europe’s biggest energy challenges. 

“The Pyrofab unlocks the potential of waste, producing sustainable carbon neutral bioenergy and biofuels. This has the potential to change a significant liability for businesses and local authorities across North West Europe into a home grown resource, to reduce waste management costs and generate new revenue streams through the derived products.”

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