Biogas is a mixture of gases, mainly methane and carbon dioxide, which is formed when organic materials break down in the absence of oxygen. Biogas can be burnt as a fuel, or upgraded to biomethane (~98% methane) and used as a transport fuel or injected into the natural gas grid.
As it is derived from organic resources such as energy crops (e.g. maize and grass), animal slurries and spoiled food, biogas is a renewable, low-carbon source of energy, which can make a significant contribution to the EU 20-20-20 climate change and energy package targets. As such, there has been significant uptake of biogas technologies, with over 12,000 biogas production facilities established to date in the EU.
Most European countries incentivize the energy produced from biogas in order to allow it to compete with energy from fossil-fuels and other renewables. These incentives are funded from taxation, so to be sustainable, the cost of energy from biogas must be reduced.
That’s were the ATBEST project comes in – a €3.8 M research project funded by the EC through the FP7 Marie-Curie Actions programme. ATBEST will consider the entire biogas supply and utilisation chain, and tackle fourteen key research challenges that have been identified during the development of the project.
Each of these research challenges is being tackled by a researcher working at one of the eight ATBEST Project partner in one of four countries: Queen’s University Belfast in the UK; University College Cork, Teagasc and Bord Gáis Networks in Ireland; University Duisburg-Essen and Cologne University of Appied Sciences in Germany and Linköping University and Scandinavian Biogas Fuels in Sweden.
The interest in these research challenges was reflected in the recruitment stage, with close to 350 applicants competing for the 14 opportunities. Despite three-quarters of these applications being from men, we were able to achieve the Marie-Curie Actions target for representation of women, achieving an equal 50/50 split between males and females.
The recruited researchers, who have all now begun their fellowships, are an international bunch: two from Germany, two from Spain, two from India, two from Italy and one each from Poland, Slovenia, UK, China, Lebanon and Greece. The researchers will use this blog over the coming months and years to give updates on their research.
In our next blog, one of the ATBEST researchers, Paz Vilanova Plana will tell us about the first summer school, which took place in Germany at the start of July 2014.
Simon Murray, ATBEST Project Manager