Aston University bioenergy expert appointed Fraunhofer director

A leading expert in the field of renewable energy has been announced as the new director of the Institute branch Sulzbach-Rosenberg of Fraunhofer UMSICHT in Bavaria, Germany.

Professor Andreas Hornung, Director of the European Bioenergy Research Institute (EBRI) at Aston University will be combining his innovative work at Aston University alongside developing the Fraunhofer Center for Energy Storage in Sulzbach-Rosenberg, Germany.

Professor Hornung believes the new role will help strengthen research opportunities between the UK and Germany in the rapidly growing field of renewable bioenergy. This will include generating energy from multiple waste sources such as wheat husks and sewage sludge into sources of cost-effective heat and electricity.

“These two roles allow my expertise in the field of bioenergy to be shared across two European countries”, said Professor Andreas Hornung. “This will enable the UK and Germany to align their bioenergy research more closely to bring benefits for society and business. Both institutes are focused on developing and implementing sustainable concepts that are tailored to meet market needs. It is an honour to lead these two world-leading organisations.”

The Fraunhofer Center for Energy Storage, will involve researchers examining chemical and thermal energy storage systems. They will assess promising alternative energy technologies and test them in specially built demonstration plants.

At Aston University, EBRI has developed a new £16.5m demonstration facility with six bioenergy ‘topic’ laboratories to showcase and develop renewable low carbon technologies. Funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the facility includes pilot scale photo bioreactors harnessing algae and a 0.4MWel small scale industrial power plant.  The plant will provide all of the heat, electricity and cooling needed to power the building, generated from a range of biomass including sewage sludge, wood, algae and agricultural waste.

The research results of both EBRI and the Fraunhofer UMSICHT can be used by industry and are particularly relevant for small and medium-sized companies. EBRI currently has ERDF funding to work with West Midlands based businesses to provide free business support and enable them to explore the potential of this research and high growth market. There are currently only two other Fraunhofer collaborations in the UK.

Professor Hornung is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry and of the Institution of Chemical Engineers. In 2012, he received the Green Leader Award of the West Midlands.

The European Bioenergy Research Institute (EBRI) at Aston University has been established since 2007 and bioenergy research has been taking place at the University from as early as 1978. EBRI staff conduct world-class research into all aspects of bioenergy, ranging from fundamental research through development, to deployment of innovative technologies, in collaboration with industry. EBRI works with regional, national and international businesses and organisations to help them realise opportunities from this new high growth sector. 

Since 1990 Fraunhofer UMSICHT, Institute Branch Sulzbach-Rosenberg develops concepts and processes which directly relate to the economy in order to allocate and make an efficient use of energy, raw materials and materials. It employs about 60 staff members. Fraunhofer UMSICHT in Oberhausen develops technical innovations in the fields of environmental, material, process and energy technology. In 2011 the staff comprised 345 members, the institute generated a turnover of 24.8 million EUR. The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft is the leading organization for applied research in Europe. The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft employs a staff of around 20,000, who work with an annual research budget totaling 1,8 billion euros. 

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