Biofuel Energy Conversion
An alternative harvest of new energy
Dr Beatrice Smyth remembers being at a wedding in a lovely Irish village. ‘Everything was perfect – except for one thing. Somewhere a farmer was spreading slurry. Wedding or no wedding, he had his work to do.’
For Beatrice, that smell, overpowering though it was that day, contains the scent of opportunity. ‘When we look for energy solutions, people think of importing palm oil biodiesel from the tropics or sugar cane ethanol from Brazil – but all you have to do is look out the window.
‘We have a huge resource. We have about the same number of cattle as people and they produce a lot of manure and slurry. As well as that we grow grass better than anywhere else in Europe. And so we have an energy crop with the added advantage that we can do this on our doorstep, benefiting local employment and the local economy.’
Beatrice, Lecturer in the School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, is a member of the Clean Energies Research Group, one of 12 research clusters at Queen’s with a focus on sustainability issues.