NUI Galway launches biofuels research lab

NUI Galway launches biofuels research lab
Pictured l-r: Professor Vincent O’Flaherty, Ryan Institute, Professor Donal Leech, College of Science, President of NUI Galway, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, Professor Walter Gear, Dean, College of Science and Engineering, and Professor Piet Lens with his New Energy Technologies research team. Pic: Aengus McMahon

NUI Galway has launched a new laboratory to research the generation of biofuels from organic waste.

Professor Piet Lens, a leading expert in environmental biotechnology, will lead a team of 25 PhD and post-doctoral researchers in the university's Department of Microbiology Programme, ‘Innovative Energy Technologies for Bioenergy, Biofuels and a Sustainable Irish Bioeconomy’.

They are aiming to develop new technologies to produce biobased renewable fuels (such as hydrogen from dairy effluent) that are generated from waste products (such as butanol from spent brewery grains).

It is hoped the fuels will be used to supporting the Government’s strategy for an energy self-sufficient Irish bio-economy.

Besides hi-tech solutions, nature-based technologies will also be developed with the aim of tackling socio-environmental challenges such as climate change, water security, water pollution, food security and human health.

These pollution control technologies are based on processes as they occur in wetlands and algal ponds.

They will also aim to manufacture new biobased products such as fertilizers and bio-commodities (such as polylactic acid and bioplastic).

Professor Lens said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for NUI Galway to develop new technologies that transform wastewater and waste into energy and bio-commodities. The investment of Science Foundation Ireland in this area is a response to the nation’s Climate Action Plan and ambitions to become a self-sustainable island for energy, where renewable biofuels are generated out of our wastes.”

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