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University of Greenwich claims a first for experimental glycerol boiler

30 October 2012

An EC funded initiative, led by Medway Council, will seek to find cost-effective and environmentally efficient ways of producing the biofuel, glycerol.

Professor Pat Harvey
Professor Pat Harvey

Part of ‘Ecotec 21’, an Anglo-French consortium set up to study Combined Heat and Power (CHP) technology, the project brings together universities in the UK and France, research institutions, government-funded organisations, energy and facility managers, designers and architects.

An international expert in bio-fuels, Professor Pat Harvey from the University of Greenwich, is leading the campus study. Based at the university’s School of Science, she aims to find cost-effective and environmentally efficient ways of producing glycerol, including the future possibility of using algae as a source of the fuel.

A sugar alcohol, glycerol has many advantages over other energy sources as it is water-soluble, bio-degradable, non-odorous, non-volatile, non-toxic and produces virtually no combustion particulates.

Professor Harvey will also research the carbon footprint of glycerol – expected to be much lower than gas – as well as its risks. The School of Engineering will review the design of the plant and its systems, while colleagues at the School of Architecture, Design & Construction will study the retro-fitting and performance of this new technology, along with the training needed.

The Business School will assess economic issues while university researchers in Psychology will consider how best to encourage use of biofuels.

“This ambitious project puts Medway at the forefront of technological development in sustainable fuels," says Professor Harvey. "We believe that we are the first university in the world to install a glycerol boiler and the findings of this research will have an important contribution to make to the global search for the biofuels of the future."

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