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ERI Biogas Project shortlisted for €5m SFI prize

A total of 12 teams of scientists have been selected to take part in a Science Foundation Ireland competition that supports challenge-based research, with a combined prize fund of €5 million. Announced on the 8th May, the two challenges, gathered under the Future Innovator Prize programme, include projects on Zero Emissions and Artificial Intelligence for Societal Good. Both streams will provide prizes worth €2m each, and the emissions challenge has a bonus prize of €1m for a team that develops a technology to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

An ERI-based project led by Prof Jerry Murphy and Dr David Wall (both (ERI, MaREI, School of Engineering) called EFACE - ElectroFuels in A Circular Economy is among the teams short listed under the Zero Emissions Challenge and advancing to the next stage of the competition (Seed Phase). The EFACE project aims to tackle three specific challenges:

1. Increasing energy efficiency from existing intermittent renewable electricity devices;

2. Creating a more sustainable agricultural sector through the production of bioenergy;

3. Delivering energy diversification and decarbonisation through the use of advanced transport fuels.

The solution presented is the assessment of a Power to Gas (PtG) facility, to introduce electrofuels to Ireland for the first time in the form of hydrogen, providing use for electricity from wind turbines at times when demand for electricity is low. This PtG system will be assessed in conjunction with an anaerobic digester in a circular economy approach. EFACE is expected to generate a range of societal impacts including the promotion of renewable technologies (in Agriculture and Industry), the production of sustainable, renewable fuels (in Transport), the circular economy (in Energy) and climate mitigation (Climate). This project will produce hydrogen from wind turbines at waste water treatment plants and will use O2 from electrolysers in aeration basin & hydrogen to upgrade biogas to biomethane at sludge digesters in negative emission technology.