Plant & Works Engineering
Birmingham ‘innovation hub’ boosts global clean energy prospects
Published:  29 November, 2019

British and German experts from industry and academia will create a new ‘Innovation Hub’ based in Birmingham to deliver new approaches to energy and waste management that will benefit cities and communities in China and around the world.

Energy experts from the University of Birmingham and Fraunhofer UMSICHT have renewed their Joint Research Platform set up in 2016 with plans to locate collaborative research in a new centre at the city’s Tyseley Energy Park.

Set to open in 2021, the Hub will link to the creation of a technology transfer centre in China in partnership with Jiangsu Industrial Technology Research Institute (JITRI), in Nanjing, and funded through Research England’s International Investment Initiative (I3) programme.

Birmingham Energy Institute (BEI) and Fraunhofer UMSICHT established the Joint Research Platform to combine academic expertise with industrial capability - addressing the practical challenges around energy and waste to get innovative solutions into action.

BEI Director Professor Martin Freer commented: “With our global community consuming more energy than ever before, the demand for energy is rising, yet this increasing demand is occurring at a time when climate change and the use of fossil fuels is a growing concern.

“In establishing the Innovation Hub, we’re looking to develop collaborative research programmes related to waste processing and recycling in particular the development of technologies capable of delivering biofuels.

“We will work with JITRI and Fraunhofer in helping to drive innovation and manufacturing progress, not just in China but around the world, as well as deepening still further the bonds between our sister cities of Birmingham and Nanjing.”

The partnership between BEI and Fraunhofer UMSICHT has been cemented through a series of new research programmes and development of a Thermo-Catalytic Reformer plant at Tyseley Energy Park. Thermo-Catalytic Reforming (TCR®) technology has been developed by Professor Andreas Hornung, Chair in Bioenergy at the University of Birmingham and Director of the Institute Branch, Sulzbach-Rosenberg, Fraunhofer UMSICHT.

Prof. Dr. Andreas Hornung, Director of Fraunhofer UMSICHT, Institute Branch Sulzbach-Rosenberg, commented: “Fraunhofer UMSICHT stands for the provision of high quality energy carriers and raw materials from waste. In extending our research cooperation with the University of Birmingham we hope to contribute our expertise in process engineering, especially in thermochemical conversion processes.

“We aim to to implement our solutions for the energy and raw material transition all around the world. With this renewed international research partnership and its emerging links to China, we strongly believe to come a good step closer to this goal.”

BEI, Fraunhofer UMSICHT and JITRI recently announced their partnership in China to find global solutions for delivering recycling solutions and low-carbon clean energy and reducing the environmental impact of waste.

A five-year bridge connecting the sister cities of Birmingham and Nanjing with energy and raw materials experts in Germany will see researchers develop new technologies such as energy storage solutions – allowing renewable power to be available ‘on tap’ – as well as energy sources and biofuels created from waste.