BIODIESEL engines which could slash business heating and power costs and reduce UK carbon emissions are being piloted in the North-East.
Minister for North-East England Nick Brown marked the official UK launch of state of the art biodiesel systems at the region’s New and Renewable Energy Centre (NaREC) in Blyth.
NaREC’s Clothier Laboratories at the Hebburn research centre will host the UK’s first demonstration project of the new generation of 100% biodiesel fuelled combined heat and power engines (CHP).
The investment and aftercare team at regional development agency One NorthEast has been working with Japanese firm Yanmar Co Ltd to secure the project, which could pave the way for new commercial uses of a secure, low carbon power resource.
Micro CHP is particularly suitable for commercial buildings with significant heating and power requirements, such as swimming pools, communal residences like care homes and university campuses, and in rural areas.
The North-East will be the only location in Europe to run a pilot for Yanmar.
The research and development programme will evaluate the economy and ecology of the engines to run on biodiesel fuel and develop the engine so it will be ready for commercial sale in the UK and Europe.Yanmar has installed two engines at the Clothier Laboratories. They will work with NaREC, Newcastle University and local partners in collaborative research to power, monitor, appraise and develop the engine, to enable it to be brought to the UK market within the next three years. One NorthEast’s rural and environment team has invested £200,000 of Single Programme funding in the project through NaREC.
Mr Brown said: “I am delighted to be here to witness the launch of this exciting new project. It represents an excellent opportunity for our region to further enhance its expertise in the developing biofuels industry.
“The knowledge which will be gained from research into this area will help increase the overall prosperity of our region and is a wonderful example of the North-East’s commitment to leading the way in exploring and mastering emerging new energy technologies.”
Biodiesel fuel is made from biomass, such as vegetable oils, and does not produce carbon dioxide when burned.
It is biodegradable, non-toxic and is seen as ‘clean energy’ or ‘carbon neutral’ as well as being a cost-competitive form of energy. This test will use biodiesel from a rape seed, soy mix feedstock sourced regionally.
Makoto Yasuda, from the environmental business development department at Yanmar, said: “Yanmar chose North-East England because One NorthEast’s investment and aftercare team demonstrated that the region had the facilities, skills and commitment to make the testing work and enable us to gain a foothold in the market that will allow us to develop our commercial proposition.
“Micro CHP has the potential to be an influential heating technology that decreases carbon dioxide emissions through increased energy efficiency in households and small businesses.
“This project will enable us to fully explore the viability of biofuel micro CHP to create new solutions for low carbon heat and power in Europe.”
One NorthEast chairman Margaret Fay said: “The unique technology being tested and developed in the region lends further credibility to the region’s reputation as a centre of excellence for energy technologies.
“The North-East Biofuels Cluster will have complete scope of the industry, from production to consumption, and the potential supply chain opportunities for businesses in the region, particularly in rural areas, will be very important.
“Ultimately, this research will take forward the introduction of low carbon products that can help businesses reduce their energy consumption and cost.”
NaREC chief executive Andrew Mill added: “NaREC is working to enable the move towards a low carbon economy on a national and international scale by assisting the development and market growth of new energy technologies.”