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The Bryden Centre PhD Programme - Fully Funded PhD Studentships in Renewable Energy

The Bryden Centre PhD studentships have been funded under the European Union’s INTERREG VA Programme. The Bryden Centre will create a ‘virtual centre of competence’ that will support industry-led applied/pre-commercial collaborative research on a cross-border, interregional basis that is focused on two specific forms of renewable energy:

  • Marine renewable energy; and
  • Bio-energy

The programme will offer a range of research opportunities in the key theme areas of Biofouling, Biofuels, Renewables and Environment (Resource, Interactions, Impact), Grid Storage and Techno-Economics.

We are seeking to recruit our first cohort of 20 or more students to commence their studies in September 2017; each of whom will work with industry to produce industrially relevant research with the potential for commercial exploitation and resulting economic growth within the INTERREG VA eligible region of Northern Ireland, Border Region of Ireland, and Western Scotland.

For further information on the Bryden Centre PhD opportunities, please click here.

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Advanced technologies and novel solutions for a competitive and sustainable European biogas sector

The EU-funded ATBEST project has recently hosted its final international conference from 7 to 8 September 2016 in Linköping, Sweden, where it outlined its toolbox of innovative solutions to support and promote the future growth and sustainability of the European biogas sector.

Biogas, a mixture of methane and carbon dioxide, is a source of carbon neutral energy for electricity generation, heating and transport, which can make a significant contribution to achieving Europe’s far-reaching and ambitious climate change commitments. However, the production and utilisation of biogas is not yet equally established around Europe, currently relying on government subsidies to ensure the development of biogas infrastructure that would not only be environmentally sustainable but also an economically viable investment.

In order to address these structural and financial challenges, the ATBEST (Advanced Technologies for Biogas Efficiency Sustainability and Transport) project’s outputs have focused on delivering improvements to the effectiveness and efficiency of each stage of the biogas supply chain. These include investigating alternative feedstocks and better digester configurations, novel monitoring techniques, new biogas upgrading solutions and improved biogas utilisation techniques.

‘The ATBEST researchers have produced some excellent work which will influence the biogas industry across Europe as it faces challenges posed by reduced government subsidies and competition from other renewable energy technologies,’ commented project manager Dr. Simon Murray from Queen’s University, Belfast, UK. ‘For example, we have developed new knowledge surrounding control of viscosity in digesters which will lead to lower mixing power requirements, novel absorbents which will reduce the size of, and energy used, by the equipment employed to upgrade biogas to biomethane, and explored alternate biogas utilisation technologies which will capture the energy which is currently lost when biogas is used in a CHP engine.’ He continued by explaining that all of this work has been underpinned by life cycle analysis and economic modelling that will allow the correct decisions to be made to ensure increased economic and environmental sustainability of the biogas industry.

Key conference results

The project’s final international conference, with more than 90 participants from Europe as well as representation from Brazil and South Africa, aimed to combine both the outcomes from the project in terms of new contributions to the scientific community, as well as active engagement with a range of stakeholders from the biogas sector to support active discussion for the future of the sector. The conference - a cooperation between Linköping University, Scandinavian Biogas Fuels AB, the Swedish Biogas Research Centre (BRC) and the QUESTOR Centre at Queen’s University Belfast- included sessions on the potential of anaerobic digestion (AD) technologies and their applications, the importance of new feedstocks, innovative digestion conditions, process monitoring and sustainable investments.

During the first day, the conference focused on applied solutions for biogas optimisation, including presentations on novel techniques for biogas upgrading, synergistic possibilities for the recovery of CO2 into valuable commercial by-products, as well as addressing the technical challenges for full-scale implementations. The importance of AD as a driver for societal progress in times of change was highlighted by Prof. Willy Verstraete (Ghent University, Belgium). Topics such as development of macroalgae as a substrate for biogas production, microbial community structure and their correlations with process operation and productivity, sustainability and life-cycle assessments of feedstock digestion systems, and arable land as carbon sink including carbon sequestration in biogas systems were also addressed.

‘Biogas is a growing sector not yet fully exploited,’ stated Dr Francesco Ometto, one of the ATBEST project researchers. ‘Although the technology and knowledge is there, in comparison with other renewable energy sectors, biogas is still too small ‘to make a difference’. The conventional concept of an AD system where waste material is converted to methane and fertiliser has now passed.’ He further outlined the belief of the ATBEST community that future biogas production will be integrated with other sectors providing substrates (e.g. the aquaculture, pulp and paper industries) or the capability to develop high valuable products from the post digestion material, such as pure protein from nitrogen as suggested by Prof. Verstraete.

Education and training focus

The project also had an educational focus, with a key aim being the delivery of industry-relevant training to 14 researchers specialising in the biogas sector, which included secondments and participation in 3 dedicated summer schools. ATBEST has also fostered the growth of collaborative partnerships between 8 organisations from four EU Member States (Germany, Ireland, Sweden and the UK). Each collaborator has brought their own complimentary expertise in a wide range of environmental technologies to the project that will go a long way towards building the future prosperity, competitiveness and sustainability of the European biogas sector.

This article originally appeared on the European Commission's website 


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ATBEST Network Meeting May 2015
Robotics lab at TH Kӧln, Gummersbach Campus

The 5th ATBEST network meeting took place on May 10th and 11th, hosted by TH Kӧln, at their Gummersbach Campus and :metabolon facility. 

Each fellow in attendance delivered a 20 minute presentation on their research which led to some excellent discussions amongst the audience. The presentations delivered at the meeting can be downloaded here. Fellows and supervisors also received a tour of the facilities at Professor Bongard's Automation institute and at :metabolon

Those attending also had a chance to socialise whilst enjoying meals at Brauhaus Gummersbach and Die Mühlenhelle restaurants. 


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ATBEST Conference - Registration now open!




ATBEST Conference, Linköping, Sweden, 7 and 8 September 2016


Biogas for the future - towards a sustainable and efficient supply chain’


The ATBEST Conference organising committee is pleased to announce that registrations for the conference are now open.


The 2 day programme will explore how we can maximise the efficiency and sustainability of the biogas supply chain and we are confident you will enjoy stimulating presentations from leading academics, the industry led workshop focussing on the biogas market of the future and contributions from international experts on the biogas production chain.


Confirmed speakers include:


Emeritus Professor Willy Verstrate Ghent University

Dr Arthur Wellinger President of the European Biogas Association

Professor Jerry Murphy Director of Energy Engineering University College Cork

Dr Raffaella Villa Senior lecturer in Bioprocess Technology, Cranfield University

Matti Vikkula President and CEO, Scandinavian Biogas Group


Full profiles on all our speakers are available here.


Over the course of the conference, there will be several networking opportunities including a drinks reception and conference dinner on 7 September.




Researchers from academia and industry are also invited to submit an abstract for a short oral presentation or a poster presentation.

To register or for more information please click here.


We look forward to welcoming you to our conference in Linköping this September.






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ATBEST Newsletter now available

The latest edition of the Newsletter gives information on the recent ATBEST Consortium Meeting in Belfast, the Biogas Opportunities Workshop in Mayo and gives details of the upcoming ATBEST international conference in Linköping, Sweden.

Read the Newsletter

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ATBEST Network Meeting November 2015
Project Co-ordinator Sam McCloskey with ATBEST Fellow Paz Vilanova Plana

The 4th meeting of the ATBEST consortium took place in Ireland in early November 2015. At Queen's University Belfast on Tuesday 3rd November, the ATBEST fellows gave updates on their research projects and training programmes. Experienced researcher Laura Gil Carrera from Gas Networks Ireland did so for the last time as her fellowship draws to a close. You can read about Laura's experiences as part of the project on the ATBEST blog

On the second day of the meeting, associate partner Cré hosted a disemination event at the Crowne Plaza, Dublin. The event attracted an audience of policy makers (including Damien English T.D. Minister for Skills, Research & Innovation) and industrial representatives and afforded the opportunity for Michael Eisinger, Scientist in charge at UDE, to give an overview of the ATBEST project and Experienced Researcher Francesco Ometto from Scandinavian Biogas Fuels to give an overview of his research. 

The presentations delivered at the meeting can be downloaded here

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ATBEST Announces International Conference


ATBEST Conference, Linköping, Sweden

7 and 8 September 2016


Biogas for the future - towards a sustainable and efficient supply chain’


ATBEST - Advanced Technologies for Biogas Efficiency, Sustainability and Transport - is hosting an international conference at Linköping Concert and Congress to explore how we can maximise the efficiency and sustainability of the Biogas supply chain.


The conference will comprise presentations from leading academics and industry experts on the following topics:

 Feedstocks and digestion

Process monitoring

Upgrading and supply

Optimum biogas utilisation

The 2 day programme will also include delegate presentations, networking opportunities and an industry led workshop focusing on the biogas market for the future. 

Those interested in presenting will be invited to submit their abstracts in early 2016.  Deadline for submissions will be 30 April 2016.  


For further information please register your interest with the ATBEST team


Funded by the European Union, the ATBEST Marie Curie ITN is a collaboration between eight partners located in the UK, Ireland, Germany and Sweden.  The project tackles several key research challenges along the biogas supply chain, improving its competitiveness with respect to fossil derived fuels and increasing the sustainability of the biogas industry in Europe.


Learn more about the ATBEST project at


Organised in collaboration with:

Linköping University

Scandinavian Biogas Fuels

Biogas Research Center



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The 14th World Congress on Anaerobic Digestion took place in Viña del Mar, Chile, between the 16th to 18th of November 2015. 

With delegates from 52 different countries, the congress provided the perfect opportunity to discuss the most recent innovations and achievements in the field of AD, with Professor Verstraete of Ghent Univeristy in Belgium defining AD as "the driver of societal progression" during his introductory address on the on the opening day. 

The ATBEST project was represented at the event through the delivery of 3 oral presentations and 3 posters. Some of the great work produced was presented by ATBEST fellows Luka Šafaric from Linköping University, Christian Jenne and Nikoletta Giantsiou from University of Duisburg-Essen, Himanshu from Teagasc and Francesco Ometto from Scandinavian Biogas Fuels. Also attending was Annika Bjorn, supervisor at Linköping University, and her student Eva-Maria, who also participated in the ATBEST Summer School in June 2015. 

For more details, visit the event website at 

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ATBEST researcher contributes to seaweed publication

A recently published book, Seaweed Sustainability: Food and Non-Food Applications, features a chapter with contributions from ATBEST researcher Dr Francesco Ometto. Francesco worked on the chapter on Identification and selection of algae for food, feed and fuel applications; which is the research area he focusses on in the ATBEST project. 

Francesco works at Scandinavian Biogas Fuels through the ATBEST project as an experienced researcher, having previous completed his PhD as part of the ATWARM project, which was also coordinated by the QUESTOR Centre at Queen's University Belfast. Dr Raffaella Villa, who supervised Francesco's PhD research at Cranfield University, also contributes to the chapter. 

The book, which was edited by Brijesh Tiwara and Declan Troy, can be previewed on Google Books and purchased via the Elsevier website

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Mayo Energy Agency Event

The Mayo Energy Agency held a successful workshop on Biogas Opportunities in the West of Ireland on August 27th 2015, in Castlebar, County Mayo, Ireland. 

Amongst the speakers was ATBEST researcher from University of Duisburg-Essen, Christian Jenne, who provided examples of the development of Biogas for trasnport in the EU and spoke about the work required for Ireland to meet EU targets with respect to transport carbon emmission, and the role can play in achieving these. 

Other speakers were Patrick Moran, Executive Engineer at Tipperary County Council, who spoke about retrofitting and upgrading a AD unit at a wastewater treatment facility; Noel Gavigan from Irbea on the development of small scale AD facilities and Ian Brannigan from the Western Development Commission who discussed the role of state agency in developing regional policy and job creation opportunities in the biogas industry. 

The event closed with focussed breakout groups, discussing the opportunities for Biogas development in the West of Ireland. The notes 

The presentations and a summary from the event are available for download from the links below. The event was also covered by Fleet magazine



Event Summary

Patrick Moran - Operating an Anaerobic Digester using Wastewater Sludge

Christian Jenne - Overview of Biogas operations in Europe

Noel Gavigan - Opportunities for AD development in the region

Ian Brannigan - Regional Policy Development & Jobs

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ReNEW Network Demonstration Event

The ReNEW network held a successful demonstration event at Queen's University Belfast on June 19th 2015. ReNEW, an InterReg IVB also led by the QUESTOR Centre at Queen's Unversity, aims to promote innovation in the waste supply chain, supporting practices which involve the recovery of valuable resources from waste. 

Alongside presentations from researchers linked to the ReNEW network, the event also provided an opportunity for ATBEST's project manager, Simon Murray, to give the audience a brief introduction to the ATBEST project. The ATBEST fellows from Queen's also presented their posters from the recent ATBEST network meeting in Essen. 

The presentations and posters from the event are downloadable from the links below:



Introduction and Welcome; Gary Sheldrake (Queen's University Belfast) 

The EU Environmental Test & Verification (ETV) Pilot Programme; Jane Turrell (WRc)

ATBEST Marie-Curie ITN; Simon Murray (Queen's University Belfast)

Large Scale High Temperature Reactor; Kevin Morgan (Queen's University Belfast)


ATBEST Posters:

Genomic optimisation of hydrolysis in biogas productionJoanna Grebosz (QUB)

Novel technologies for integrated biogas separation and compressionJing-Xiao Liang (QUB)

Micro-reforming of biogas for micro-combined heat and power generation; Fabio De Rosa (QUB) 

Applications of biogas in chemical energy and liquid fuel productionRawan Hakawati (QUB)


Note: Posters and presentation from all 14 ATBEST researchers from the May 2015 Network Meeting in Essen, Germany, are available here



ReNEW Posters: 

Whey Rich Dairy Waste - A Biorefinery Feedstock

Waste Paper to Value Added BioChemicals

Valorisation of waste by pyrolysis

BIOLEACHING - Recovery of valuable metals from anthropogenic deposits

Valorisation of stainless steel slag by selective Cr recovery and carbonation of the matrix material

Valorization of CO2 off-gas to polymers through biotechnological process

Life cycle assessment of biobased chemical building blocks made from European waste streams

Low energy pelletisation of ash residues

Valuable Products from Tree Barks



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More success for QUESTOR team in Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions

The QUESTOR team at Queen's University Belfast has again been awarded EU funding from the Marie Sklodowska-Curie actions instrument. This will be the third time QUESTOR has led such a project, following on from ATWARM and ATBEST

Known as REMEDIATE, the  €3.7 million research project is aiming to use sustainable methods to clean up contaminated land. the QUESTOR Centre at Queen’s is leading the project and is working with researchers across Europe in collaboration with industrial partners, including Shell Global Solutions. Researchers from the University of Duisburg-Essen, also involved in ATWARM and ATBEST, will also collaborate in the project. 

The four-year European initiative will bring together scientists and engineers who will develop technologies to help accelerate the remediation of contaminated sites, releasing land for industrial or domestic development. 

The QUESTOR Centre has been awarded €3.7 million to lead the four year project, which will support 14 researchers in UK, Ireland, Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands and Italy, working with 14 industrial partners.

Professor Mike Larkin, from Biological Sciences at Queen’s, is leading the project: “There are an estimated 3.5 million potentially contaminated sites in the whole of the EU, of which about half a million are expected to be actually contaminated and in need of remediation.

“Until these are identified and assessed, they will continue to pose potentially serious environmental, economic, social and health risks.

“This is a multidisciplinary collaboration committed to the provision of innovative research and training for more cost effective and sustainable remediation of contaminated land.

“It would not have been possible for Queen’s University to lead such a project without the expertise and co-ordination of staff in the QUESTOR Centre. It demonstrates the capacity that Queen’s has to lead in important international collaborations,” he said.

“Established 25 years ago QUESTOR is an industry-collaborative centre for world-leading environmental research. It is the only Centre outside the United States to be part of the NSF IUCRC (Industry-University Co-operative Research Centre) programme. It has an international standing as a Centre of Excellence for Environmental Research and makes significant contributions to the regional and national economies."

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Gas Networks Ireland - ATBEST Partner gets new name

Gas Networks Ireland is the new name for Bord Gáis Networks. The name change came about following the sale of Bord Gáis Energy to Centrica plc. 

The role of Ian Kilgallon and Laura Gil Carrera in the ATBEST project is unaltered by the name change. 

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Allocade for UCC Scientist-in-Charge

Professor Jerry Murphy

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has elected Professor Murphy, the ATBEST Scientist-in-Charge at University College Cork, as Leader of The International Energy Agency  Task 37 “Energy from Biogas” for the trimester 2016 - 2018. The International Energy Agency (IEA) Task 37 “Energy from Biogas” is the largest Task in IEA Bioenergy ( It has 15 member countries (Austria, Australia, Brazil, Denmark, the EU, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Korea, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom). These countries dominate the production of renewable gas and the membership contains the absolute cutting edge knowledge in renewable gas. 

This is a huge honour for Ireland and for UCC, and it is fantastic news that it has been bestowed on someone associated with the ATBEST project.  

Professor Murphy is the lead PI in Bioenergy and Biofuels in the Environmental Research Institute (ERI). He is the Director of the Degree in Energy Engineering. He has represented Ireland at the International Energy Agency (IEA) Bioenergy Tasks since 2007. In 2013 he edited a Book on behalf of the IEA (Wellinger, Murphy, Baxter (2013) “The Biogas Handbook: Science, production and applications.” ISBN: 978-0-85709-498-8).

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Training in North Rhine Westphalia

The 14 ATBEST fellows enjoyed their first summer school earlier this month. The training programme, 'Enhanced technologies for anaerobic digestion', was hosted by partners UDE and CUAS, in the North Rhine Westphalia region of Germany. Lectures and site visits relevant to the topic of reactor design and monitoring, business skills training for e-learning and innovation, as well as social events ensured delivery of a busy, informative and enjoyable few days. 

One of the ATBEST fellows from the University of Duisburg-Essen, Paz Vilanova Plana, has published a blog piece on the summer school at the ATBEST blog

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Follow us!

Keep up to date with ATBEST progress and activities:

Follow us on Twitter: @ATBEST_ITN
Join the LinkedIn group: ATBEST Biogas Network
Like us on Facebook: ATBEST.ITN 

Also, read the latests updates from the fellows on our blog!

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Queen's Students' Union creates first for Northern Ireland

Queen's Students' Union creates first for Northern Ireland

Students from all over Ireland will flock to Belfast next month for the annual Board of Irish Colleges and Societies (BICS) Awards – marking the first time the event has been held in Northern Ireland in its 19-year history.

Building on the success of the ongoing GAA Festival at Queen’s, which has seen thousands of students from across the UK and Ireland congregate in Belfast, the BICS showcase at Titanic Belfast will host upwards of 400 students and 60 judges from all corners of the island of Ireland.

Last year at the BICS Awards in Athlone, Co Westmeath, Queen’s scooped the top prize of the night – that of overall Best Student Society, which was won by SWOT, a charity run by fourth-year medical students at Queen’s. The aim of SWOT is to raise money for hospitals in the developing world and to buy much-needed medical supplies and equipment for the same.

Queen’s currently has 125 societies with approximately 8,000 members. There are approximately 2,000 societies with over 100,000 students and associate members across the island of Ireland.

Sponsorship has been provided from Visit Belfast as well as from corporate partners including Dominos Pizza and The Signature Works in a bid to make the occasion particularly memorable, especially for those who may never have visited Belfast before. Students will be welcomed at Queen’s Students' Union during the day of April 10 to make their final presentations, before the awards ceremony that evening at Titanic Belfast.

“Queen’s University not only aims to make this a successful event, but to add the ‘wow factor’ and to enhance people’s perceptions of Belfast by showcasing the city at its best,” said David Bradley, Clubs and Societies Coordinator at Queen’s who is also this year’s BICS Chairman.

He added: “Queen’s aims to host the best BICS Awards to date and provide a positive experience of Belfast, and the University, that will have delegates returning to visit in the future as well as making an impression on potential post-graduate students.

“Our view is that if we are going to be hosts, then we need to ensure that they are the best BICS Awards to date and our rivals need to live up to the legacy of our awards in 2014.”

The BICS Awards recognise excellence in student societies in colleges and universities across the island of Ireland. Every society attending the event has already won an award at its own university.
For more information on the event, see

Media inquiries should be directed to the Communications Office at Queen’s on Tel. +44 (0)28 9097 3087 or email

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