Opportunities for the UK and India to Collaborate around Bioenergy

The Supergen Bioenergy Hub has identified many opportunities for the UK and India to together drive forward innovation in bioenergy in its Final Report of the UK-India Bioenergy research scoping opportunity Bioenergy Technologies for a Net Zero Transition’.

The report focused on 7 challenge areas: Rice and other agricultural residues, Waste and circular economy, Algal biofuels and biochemicals, Anaerobic digestion, Fermentation, Gasification, Biorefinery and chemical and represents the final synthesis of contributions from stakeholders in the UK and India over a 3 month period incorporating virtual engagement and online workshops.

It highlights the current state of play in bioenergy research in each country and identifies collaborative opportunities that range from development of resource inventory and remote diagnostic tools to practical work to advance the use of insect larvae in waste treatment and energy generation. Common interests in algal breeding and processing are discussed as well as the challenges of gas upgrading from anaerobic digestion. Both countries are endeavouring to support scale-up and implementation from laboratories to pilots and beyond and collaboration around these could be particularly stimulating and cost-effective (especially in gasification and fermentation).

With an increased focus on carbon budgets there is a need to develop better understanding of the fully life-cycle impacts of bioenergy implementation. While different in each country, the tools, skills and methods have strong similarities where co-working could provide obvious benefits.

Finally, as our economies face global challenges and resource-constrained futures the urgency to identify the most appropriate high value products from biomass sources (whether bioplastics or animal feed, concrete binders or fragrances) has never been greater. Internationally excellent expertise in life cycle assessment could be combined to robustly assess the true sustainability credentials of bioenergy and bioproducts and thereby inform decision-making, policy focus and corporate strategies internationally.

Director of Supergen Bioenergy Hub Professor Patricia Thornley said:

“As we have explored bioenergy research opportunities with counterparts in India we have discovered significant commonality around the prioritisation of agricultural residues as a sustainable feedstock as well as some complementary strengths on bioenergy conversion technologies and innovation pathways. These provide an excellent basis for UK and Indian researchers to work together, with industry, to deliver an affordable, resilient, low-carbon future from biomass.”

The report for UKRI, funded by UKRI India is part of scoping exercise led by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and commissioned to Supergen Bioenergy Hub. The publication is available to download on the ‘Research Outputs’ section of our website.

This work was commissioned in order to inform UKRI/UKRI India priorities and pathways for innovation development in bioenergy with UK-India partnerships and was written by Professor Patricia Thornley, Supergen Bioenergy Hub in the UK, Bhavika Rathi, Independent Researcher from India, together with Arup Jyoti Borah, IIT, Guwahati, Tezpur University India; Basu Saha, Centre for Global Eco-Innovation, Lancaster University, UK; Jessica Adams, IBERS, Aberystwyth University, UK; Moonmoon Hiloidhari, Nalanda University, India; Richard Blanchard, Loughborough University, UK; Richard Dinsdale, Sustainable Environment Research Centre, University of South Wales, UK; Sanjay Nagarajan, Sustainable Environment Research Centre, University of South Wales, UK; Santosh Kumar, Diamond Lights Source and Imperial College London, UK;  Seetharaman Vaidyanathan, Chemical and Biological Engineering, University of Sheffield, UK; Shaishav Sharma, Sardar Patel Renewable Energy Research Institute, Gujarat, India; Shivali Sahota, Sardar Swaran Singh National institute of Bioenergy, Kapurthala, India; Shyam Kumar Masakapalli, BioX Centre and School of Basic Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology Mandi, India.