This project ran until the end of November 2015. It was funded by the European Commission under the FP7-PEOPLE-2009-IRSES programme, Grant Agreement 246772

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Project Overview

Fast pyrolysis is a relatively new biomass thermochemical conversion method in comparison to combustion and gasification. A wide range of routes can be explored for the use of bio-oils, upgrading and extraction of chemicals.  It is not possible for one nation to be the sole driver of this renewable technology. International collaboration is the best possible solution to accelerate the research and technology development. Further implementation of this technology will need a coherent approach involving academia, industry and policy makers.  The composition of the consortium has been optimised in view of these challenges. The consortium partners bring a wealth of research experience and a range of advanced technologies from biomass characterisation, computational process modelling, reaction kinetics and catalytic processes across various disciplines including biology, chemistry, chemical engineering and mechanical engineering. Together, the partners form a unique team of excellence, uniting various innovative approaches in both generic and specific types.

ECOFUEL is building an international partnership for new second generation biofuel processes: the research will set the foundation stones for technologies being developed, that have the potential to be commercialised. The partnership will make further contributions to overcoming barriers to commercialisation. For instance, costs of fast pyrolysis units can be reduced substantially through joint ventures between Chinese and European manufacturers. It is likely that large-scale implementation of this technology will initially take place in countries like China, while the EU will benefit as a key technology provider as the market grows. The knowledge gained from Chinese and European experience on this biofuel technology will pave the way for commercial implementation in the future. 

ECOFUEL will effectively integrate respective regional programmes for better allocation and utilisation of resources, in particular to achieve the critical mass required to move the second generation of biofuels forward. 

The international partners included in this research consortium include Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China; Guangzhou Institute of Energy Conversion, Chinese Academy of Sciences, China; Aalto University; Finland; University of Southampton, UK and Aston University, UK.


ECOFUEL aims to:

  • Draw together the very best academic research teams from the EU and China with diverse multi-disciplinary skills and expertise and with common interests in the field of bioenergy to confront the challenge of climate change and sustainable development in a global framework.
  • Execute an innovative exchange and training programme that allows detailed comparison of different methodologies on their merits, encourages cross-fertilisation of the ideas behind the various approaches, and will stimulate the commercialisation of new biofuel technologies through close cooperation among international partners.
  • Bring together the very best research groups in this field in order to remove fragmentation of the existing research activities at various universities and research institutes and to achieve a critical mass of research effort unparalleled anywhere in the world.
  • Create a platform for research training and transfer of knowledge activities, both within the network domain and towards the public domain, crossing inter-sector boundaries; this is essential to promote new second generation biofuel technologies, train a sufficient number of people in this field to meet the challenges ahead, and ensure the competitiveness of EU industry.
  • Disseminate knowledge to the larger international communities to maximise the impact of this network and ensure the academic and industrial relevance of its research activities.
  • Provide researchers, young researchers in particular, with intensive training-through-research programmes as well as complementary skills training in order to become trainers of the future in a multi-disciplinary field of academic, industrial and societal importance; and as such improving the young researcher's career perspectives.
  • Establish collaborative mechanisms for long-term partnerships between the EU and China researchers and institutes on important issues such as energy to combat the climate changes and other challenges for 21st century.