UK reveals phase 2 awards in wetland biomass-to-energy program

By Erin Voegele | June 10, 2013

The U.K. Department of Energy & Climate Change has awarded three bioenergy companies a total of £1.34 million ($2.08 million) to support the scale-up of their process designs under phase two of the DECC’s wetlands biomass-to-bioenergy competition. The selected companies were gleaned from an initial list of seven participants that participated in phase one  of the program.

AB Systems Ltd. was awarded £470,000 to support its biomass briquetting project. The company is using alternative harvesting methods to gather feedstock from wetland areas. The diverse biomass material is then dried in AgBags. AB Systems’ website explains that AgBags are a storage system that can be used to store crops, as well as compost, biomass and biofuel. When used in a drying capacity, the AgBags use a patented aeration system to dry biomass and conserve nutrients.

“The funding received from DECC will enable us to build on existing Agbag technologies through the purchase and development of specialist low ground pressure harvesters and of a mobile briquetting plant. It will provide us with the opportunity to undertake development trials and establish techniques for the conversion of a currently underutilized material produced from conservation management. We are very much looking forward to assisting conservation managers enabling them to improve the habitats they control through the production of fuel briquettes from the dried arisings on their reserves,” said David A.T. Synne, director of AB Systems.

AMW IBERS was awarded £293,733 in funding to support the continued development of an integrated process of solid fuel and biogas production alongside slow pyrolysis for the production of bioenergy from reed, rush, fen, grass and scrub feedstocks.  Jonathan walker, director of AMW IBERS said he is excited to be able to trial the technology in Scotland.

Finally, Natural Synergies Ltd. was awarded £576,779 to demonstrate the operational characteristics of wetland feedstocks under a range of processing conditions on a commercial scale. The demonstration will provide operational parameters for establishing anaerobic digestion plants for different opportunities. Information published by the DECC also specifies that project will help establish investor confidence and quantitatively assess energy costs and carbon savings through the development of a life cycle assessment tailored to low carbon technologies applied to wetland systems.  Faisal Salam and Victoria Melchor, directors of Natural Synergies, thanked the DECC for choosing its anaerobic digestion technology for participation in the second phase of the competition.

“With this funding, the three British companies AB Systems, AMW IBERS and Natural Synergies will be able to test their unique solutions for harvesting wetland plants for clean green power,” said Energy and Climate Change Minister Greg Barker. “I wish them every success with their projects.”

Phase one winners of the wetlands biomass-to-bioenergy competition were announced in January. The three companies selected for phase two funding will test their projects designs in wetland areas over the next 10 months. The DECC will announce the organizations selected to participated in the third and final round of testing during the spring of 2014.