This graphic novel covers what bioenergy is, why we should use it, what people worried are about when we talk about bioenergy and how to ensure a future with bioenergy will be sustainable.

We address a number of questions we often get asked as bioenergy researchers: “Why is it OK to cut down trees?” “Does it compete with food?” “Does it cause pollution?”. This is a great time to find common ground with concerns over biomass, and address how we use research and policies to solve the issues. We also look to the future to see how bioenergy could be adopted and become a normal way of life for all of us.

Why does this matter?

This is so important! Our industrial stakeholders and Advisory Board identified public perception as one of the key barriers to the uptake of bioenergy. This way, no matter how amazing our findings are, if people do not understand them they will not accept them then we will get nowhere.

Why a comic?

We wanted to produce something that could reach a wide audience, that was both captivating and highly informative. Graphic novels are basically extended infographics, using ‘pictures to say 1000 words’ and using text to make sure the reader understands what we are showing them.

Who was involved?

The comic was produced by a team of ten Supergen Bioenergy Hub postdoctoral researchers working in the UK’s leading universities and research institutes on bioenergy. Five talented artists turned their research into graphics.

Where can I get a copy?

If you would like a physical copy of the comic, please email supergen-bioenergy@aston.ac.uk.

Alternatively, you can download a copy below.



Further reading

Committee on Climate Change: Biomass in a low-carcon economy.

The Association for Renewable Energy and Clean Technology (RED: Bioenergy Strategy.

Committee on Climate Change: Land use: Reducing emissions and preparing for climate change.

For further information or to discuss any of the issues raised in the comic, please contact us at supergen-bioenergy@aston.co.uk.

The researchers involved:

Carly Whittaker
Rothamsted Research

Carly has been working on the sustainability of bioenergy for over ten years.

“The media only seems to show the negative aspects of using biomass. I made this comic because I want there to be a fair discussion about bioenergy”

Kui Zhang
University of Newcastle

Kui has been working the integration of plasma, catalysis and process intensification and its application in bioenergy production for over ten years.

“The conversion of biomass/bio-waste into energy and value-added chemicals will make the world sustainable.”

Miao Guo
Imperial College London

Miao has been working on bioenergy systems modelling, optimisation and sustainability issues for last ten years.

“General public opinions and community building are important for bioenergy research; comic is an innovative way for communication. With our joint efforts we are building our sustainable future.”

Mirjam Roeder
University of Manchester

Mirjam has been working in the fields of bioenergy, climate change and international development for over 10 years.

“Bioenergy offers many opportunities but also has various challenges as every other energy sector. Academic research is important to provide independent scientific evidence. The comic will be an exciting way of making research findings easy to understand for everyone.”

Nathan Skillen
Queen’s Belfast

Nathan has been working on advanced technologies for the past 7 years

“Communicating science is one of the hardest challenges we face. I helped with this comic cause it’s an exciting way to inform a wide range of people about an important topic”

Patrick Mason
University of Leeds

Patrick has worked as an Engineer for over 25 years on various energy-related technologies

“Sourcing and delivering energy for the needs of the world without (further) harming the planet is THE challenge of the century. Bioenergy could help us achieve this.”

Rob Holland
University of Southampton

Rob is an ecologist who has worked on the sustainability of bioenergy for 7 years.

“Bioenergy could play an important role in future energy systems if deployed in a way that balances societies need for energy and the social and environmental consequences of production”

Scott Banks
Aston University

Scott has been working in the bioenergy field for eight years.

“The general public need to be made aware that there are multiple options for renewable energy sources, not just wind turbines”

Zakir Khan
University of Glasgow

Zakir has been working on technology development of bioenergy for last seven years.

“The public has a right to know about the advantages of using biomass over fossil fuels. This encourages me to be a part of this public engagement about bioenergy science in a very different and positive way”

The artists involved

James McKay

James Mckay is a comic artist and illustrator specializing in communicating scientific research, in particular about animals, plants, environments and climate change in the past and in the future.

James has illustrated the comic Flesh for 2000AD, the book ‘Dinosaurs of the British Isles’ (Siri Scientific Press) and he led the Royal Academy of Engineering funded graphic novel project ‘Dreams of a Low Carbon Future’

Ben Dickson

Benjamin Dickson is a comics writer, illustrator and designer.

Previous projects include the action comedy “Santa Claus vs the Nazis” (For Aces Weekly and Markosia) and the the non-fiction graphic novel “Fight the Power! A Visual History of Protest Among the English-Speaking Peoples” (Published by New Internationalist and Seven Stories). He was also the designer and co-editor of the Royal Academy of Engineering project “Dreams of a Low Carbon Future”

Emma Chinnery

Emma Chinnery is an Illustrator and Cartoonist based in London, UK.

Emma creates chalk board artwork and graphics for Whole Foods Market and has worked for clients including Aces Weekly and Bloomsbury Publishing. She has also appeared in Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year in association with the National Portrait Gallery.

Emma’s published works include Aces Weekly: THE VOID, GRANNY STATE, LAST THURSDAY and GRAN THEFT PUDDLETON. Bloomsbury Publishing: DRAWING A VEIL. Royal Academy of Engineering: DREAMS OF A LOW CARBON FUTURE which was nominated for National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCCPE) ‘Engage’ Awards 2014. Sky Arts: A LITTLE BOOK OF PORTRAITS.

John Swogger

John Swogger is an archaeologist who creates comics as public outreach for excavation projects, research laboratories, museums and visitors centres. He is the author of a weekly newspaper comic strip about the archaeology and history of the English/North Welsh border region.

Corban Wilkin

Corban Wilkin is a cartoonist and illustrator with a focus on graphic fiction.

He was the winner of the Observer Graphic Short Story Prize for his comic But I Can’t and his full-length graphic novel Breaker’s End was listed for the Myriad First Graphic Novel Award and nominated for a British Comics Award.

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