Bioenergy Research Group

Organisational unit: Research Group

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Organisation profile

The Bioenergy Research Group (BERG) is one of the largest university based research groups in thermal biomass conversion in the world. It was formed in 1986 as a focus for a range of inter-related activities in biomass conversion and environmental studies related to global warming and has grown into a substantial multi-disciplinary research effort.

The objective of the BERG is to apply chemical-engineering science and technology to help provide the world with sufficient energy, fuels and chemicals from renewable and sustainable resources to meet tomorrow's needs.

To this end BERG is developing novel thermal processes whereby agricultural wastes, fast-growing wood, annual crops and biogenic wastes can be thermally converted in a biorefinery, using both fast pyrolysis and intermediate pyrolysis, into oils and gases which can, in turn, be used to generate electricity and produce transport fuels and chemicals. 


BERG is a founder member of the European Bioenergy Research Institute (EBRI) 

EERA Bioenergy

The overall objective of EERA Bioenergy is to:

The more efficient use of R&D investments that this Joint Programme foresees will contribute to an acceleration of the development of next generation conversion and upgrading technologies.

SUPERGEN Bioenergy Phase II

Biomass is any plant material which can be used as a fuel, such as energy crops, wood, agricultural waste and vegetable oils. Biomass can be burned directly to generate power, or processed to create gas or liquids to be used as fuel for production of power, transport fuels and chemicals. Biomass currently accounts for just 0.43% of the UK's energy, but it is seen as one route to meeting EU targets for reduction of CO2 emissions and increased use of renewable energy.

The project is studying the production of different types of biomass and investigating their behaviour in thermal conversion processes, with particular emphasis on the interaction and interface between production and conversion. Conversion processes are being investigated to improve their performance. Finally the bioenergy products are being expanded to include transport fuels and renewable chemicals within the context of a biorefinery. A wide range of system studies are included to evaluate the performance, cost, and socio-economic benefits of a wide range of bioenergy chains.

Bio-Oil refinery Project

The University’s Bioenergy Research Group (BERG) is involved in a £1.4m project aimed at developing new technologies to transform bio-oil into a more efficient source of renewable energy, potentially capable of replacing fuels such as diesel. 

The Bio-oil Refinery Project, part funded by the Research Council of Norway, will develop new, integrated bio-oil technology to transform biomass more efficiently into biofuels through fast pyrolysis - the process of heating materials in the absence of oxygen. This will include turning biomass material such as tree bark and waste wood into usable oil for heat power and transportation needs.

The two year scheme will help develop fast pyrolysis oil technology, which in the long term could potentially create a range of energy benefits, not least as a mainstream oil alternative for diesel fuels. Pyrolysis oil has a number of advantages over fossil fuels as it is renewable, non-toxic and in case of any spillage it does not spread on water like petroleum. Bio-oil is also more suitable for long-distance transportation than other renewable fuel sources including raw biomass or wood pellets due to its high energy density.

Coordinated by the Paper and Fibre Institute in Norway, The Bio-oil Refinery Project  involves Aston University and several partners from Norway and Sweden.

Prof Tony Bridgwater, Head of BERG, said; “This project will form an international network between industry, academia and research institutes. We need to develop more efficient technologies to not only make bio-oil viable on a large scale at lower costs, but also to derive transportation fuels with similar objectives.”

Biofuels Research Infrastructure for sharing knowledge(BRISK)

BRISK will fund researchers outside and inside the project to carry out research at any of the 26 partners' facilities.

The partners are listed here

The facilities available are listed here

Details on how to apply for funding are provided here

Other activities in BRISK


Protocols, Databases and Benchmarking

New methodologies for feedstock characterisation

Advanced measurement methods and procedures in thermo-chemical biomass conversion

Improving methods for testing and optimisation in catalytic conversion processes

Beyond BRISK


DIBANET is a research project funded under the EU's Seventh Framework Programme. This project is being co-ordinated by Carbolea at the University of Limerick and is a response to the Energy 2008 Call - "Significant enhancement of the cooperation between key researchers & industries from the EU & Latin America in the field of biofuels". DIBANET stands for the "Development of Integrated Biomass Approaches NETwork" & the title of the Project is "The Production of Sustainable Diesel Miscible Biofuels from the Residues & Wastes of Europe & Latin America". There are 13 partners in the group, 6 from the EU & 7 from Latin America (LA). The total budget for the project is €3.7m.

DIBANET will develop technologies to help towards eliminating the need for fossil diesel imports in the EU & LA by advancing the art in the production of ethyl-levulinate from organic wastes and residues. Ethyl levulinate (EL) is a novel diesel miscible biofuel (DMB) produced by esterifying ethanol with levulinic acid.



The Bioliquids-CHP project contributes to the strategic cooperation between the European Union and Russia in the field of energy RTD. The need for more renewable energies in the energy mix calls for projects such as Bioliquids-CHP, as they tackle technical hindrances preventing cleaner energy systems from accessing the market and being able to contribute to a better environment for the future generations.

IEA Bioenergy Task 34- Pyrolysis

The overall objective of Task 34 is to improve the rate of implementation and success of fast pyrolysis for fuels and chemicals by contributing to the resolution of critical technical areas and disseminating relevant information particularly to industry and policy makers.  The scope of the Task will be to monitor, review, and contribute to the resolution of issues that will permit more successful and more rapid implementation of pyrolysis technology, including identification of opportunities to provide a substantial contribution to bioenergy.  This will be achieved by the activities listed below.


  • Review of bio-oil applications
  • Bio-oil standardization
  • Round robin for nalytical method validation
  • Techno-Economic Assessment (TEA) of thermochemical liquefaction technologies

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