Image of biomass outside of a industrial building


University of Hull BioHydrogen research focuses on unlocking potential of biorefinery waste streams

The University of Hull has been awarded £245,000 to investigate the possibility of producing hydrogen from the waste streams produced by biorefineries. The funding was awarded by the UK Government’s Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) through phase one of their Hydrogen BECCS Innovation Programme, which has been funded by the £1 billion Net Zero Innovation Portfolio (NZIP).

Climate change has brought an urgent need for society to replace fossil fuels like oil and coal with renewable and low-carbon sources of energy.

Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (often referred to as BECCS) is of special interest as it is a negative carbon emission technology. Bioenergy is produced from renewable feedstocks such as crops which absorb carbon as they grow; this carbon is then permanently captured during the energy production stage.

Supported by the BEIS funding, Project Bluegen will be led by Dr Martin Taylor in the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Hull. Dr Taylor said: “Industrial production of biofuels using plant-based feedstocks is growing and as a result, these biorefineries are producing more waste. These sludge-based materials are an untapped supply of hydrogen, a future net-zero fuel.

“Project Bluegen will produce hydrogen through gasification of these sludges. Working with our project partners, we will focus on cost effective pre-treatments of biorefinery waste so it can be successfully used as a gasifier feedstock.”

“We are aiming to design an integrated system of hydrogen production that can be coupled with carbon capture and storage (CCS), thus eliminating carbon dioxide emissions and preventing the release of waste to landfill.”


Image of Dr Martin Taylor grinding samples, with two glass beakers bubble in the foreground

Project Bluegen is led by the University of Hull in partnership with Aston University, Biorenewables Development Centre in York, Teesside University and Jesmond Engineering. This builds on THYME Project research into biofuel pre-treatment processes undertaken by the University of Hull with the Biorenewables Development Centre in York, Teesside University, and Jesmond Engineering.

The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy seeks to lead economy-wide transformation by backing enterprise and long-term growth, generating cheaper, cleaner, homegrown energy and unleashing the UK as a science superpower through innovation.

This funding has been made available from the government’s £1 billion Net Zero Innovation Portfolio, which aims to accelerate the commercialisation of innovative clean energy technologies and processes through the 2020s and 2030s. The Hydrogen BECCS Innovation Programme aims to provide funding to support innovation in hydrogen BECCS (bioenergy with carbon capture and storage) technologies.

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