University of Birmingham and Fraunhofer UMSICHT launch Joint Research Platform

22.5.2017

Wednesday 17 May 2017 marked the official launch of a collaborative Joint Research Platform between the Birmingham Energy Institute and Fraunhofer UMSICHT at the University of Birmingham.

© Photo University Birmingham/ John James

Prof. Günter Leugering (FAU), Landrat Richard Reisinger, Prof. Eckhard Weidner (Fraunhofer UMSICHT), Prof. Andreas Hornung (Fraunhofer UMSICHT Sulzbach-Rosenberg), Prof. Andrea Klug (OTH Amberg-Weiden), Prof. Martin Freer (Birmingham Energy Institute), Thomas Dickert (Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft), Prof. Tim Jones (University Birmingham), Prof. Mark Simmons (University Birmingham), Prof. Andy Schofield (University Birmingham) and Raoul Klingner (Fraunhofer UK).

© Photo University Birmingham/ John James

Professor Andreas Hornung, Chair in Bioenergy at the University of Birmingham, and Director of the Institute Branch, Sulzbach-Rosenberg, Fraunhofer UMSICHT.

© Photo University Birmingham/ John James

Prof. Andreas Hornung (Chair in Bioenergy at the University of Birmingham, and Director of the Institute Branch, Sulzbach-Rosenberg, Fraunhofer UMSICHT), Prof. Tim Jones (University Birmingham) and Raoul Klingner (Fraunhofer UK).

With our global community consuming more energy than ever before, the demand for energy is rising. But this increasing demand is occurring at a time when climate change and the use of fossil fuels is a growing concern. 

The Joint Research Platform will combine academic expertise with industrial capability to deliver new approaches to energy and waste management with the beneficiaries being cities and communities. It will address the practical challenges that sit at the heart of the energy waste nexus, applying academic insight to accelerate innovation to the market place. 

Over 100 UK and international leaders from industry and academia attended the launch event to discuss a collective ambition to drive innovation to make Birmingham the green heart of Britain. 

The collaboration will initially focus on the new Thermo-Catalytic Reforming (TCR®) technology, developed by Professor Andreas Hornung, Chair in Bioenergy at the University of Birmingham, and Director of the Institute Branch, Sulzbach-Rosenberg, Fraunhofer UMSICHT. The demonstrator for TCR® is based at Tyseley Energy Park in the city of Birmingham - a central hub for Energy Innovation as part of the Energy Capital vision for the West Midlands. 

In the future, the collaboration will look to progress a chain of commercial-scale thermo-catalytic reforming plants around the city of Birmingham.This concept has been called the ‘Thermal Belt‘. If developed, the technology will have the potential to transform the way that we think about waste and energy, and start providing a solution to the growing demand for clean energy and fuels on a global scale. 

Professor Andreas Hornung said:

»The Joint Research Platform is a major step forward into a new era of transferring innovation into application. Guests from all over the world have been in Birmingham, celebrating this opportunity, including investors into technology from Brazil, Italy and Germany. We delivered something new to the great research portfolio at University of Birmingham, and to the means of the city to get solutions delivered for a green Birmingham.«

Professor Martin Freer, Director of the Birmingham Energy Institute, said: 

»The establishment of a joint University of Birmingham - Fraunhofer UMSICHT research platform comes at a great moment, when not only are there significant opportunities for collaborative research, but the chance to set the agenda for the City of Birmingham in its drive towards decarbonising of energy and transport, and better use of waste for energy and fuels. This is a very exciting moment for the Birmingham Energy Institute and I am sure will be looked back on as a formative in its aim to have substantive impact on the UK energy transition.«

Professor Andrea Klug, president of OTH Amberg-Weiden, said:

»We regard the new Joint Research Platform as an outstanding chance for common research projects with our Competence Center for Co-Generation and our Institute of Energy Technology. Parts of the work could be carried out in Birmingham, at Fraunhofer UMSICHT and at the University in Amberg. This could also be a great chance for the education of young academics and engineers. In this context we would also be very interested in establishing a cooperative PhD programme.«

Notes: 

  • The Birmingham Energy Institute is the focal point for the University of Birmingham, and its national and international partners to create change in the way we deliver, consume and think about energy. The Institute drives technology innovation and develops the thinking required to solve the challenges facing the global community as it seeks to develop sustainable energy solutions in transport, electricity and heat supply. 

  • Fraunhofer UMSICHT, based in Sulzbach-Rosenberg and Oberhausen, belongs to Germany's Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, Europe's largest organization for applied research with 69 institutes and a workforce of 25 000 employees in Germany. Fraunhofer UMSICHT's research is focused on environmental technologies. It develops concepts and processes for direct application. Integrated process monitoring for efficient, sustainable and economical solutions are central to Fraunhofer UMSICHT’s work. 

  • The Tyseley Energy Park has the potential to be a world leading demonstrator of waste processing technologies linked into a low-carbon energy generation system, linked to a low-carbon transport hub in one of the major UK cities.