Professor appointed Fraunhofer director

Aston University's Vice Chancellor with Professor Andreas Hornung
Aston University's Vice Chancellor with Professor Andreas Hornung

18 January 2013

A leading expert in the field of renewable energy has been announced as the new director of the Institute branch Sulzbach-Rosenberg of Fraunhofer UMSICHT in Bavaria, Germany.

Professor Andreas Hornung, Director of the European Bioenergy Research Institute (EBRI) at Aston University will be combining his innovative work at Aston University alongside developing the Fraunhofer Center for Energy Storage in Sulzbach-Rosenberg, Germany.

Professor Hornung believes the new role will help strengthen research opportunities between the UK and Germany in the rapidly growing field of renewable bioenergy. This will include generating energy from multiple waste sources such as wheat husks and sewage sludge into sources of cost-effective heat and electricity.

“These two roles allow my expertise in the field of bioenergy to be shared across two European countries”, said Professor Andreas Hornung. “This will enable the UK and Germany to align their bioenergy research more closely to bring benefits for society and business. Both institutes are focused on developing and implementing sustainable concepts that are tailored to meet market needs. It is an honour to lead these two world-leading organisations.”

The Fraunhofer Center for Energy Storage, will involve researchers examining chemical and thermal energy storage systems. They will assess promising alternative energy technologies and test them in specially built demonstration plants.

At Aston University, EBRI has developed a new £16.5m demonstration facility with six bioenergy ‘topic’ laboratoriesto showcase and develop renewable low carbon technologies. Funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the facilityincludes pilot scale photo bioreactors harnessing algae and a 0.4MWel small scale industrial power plant.  The Plant will provide all of the heat, electricity and cooling needed to power the building, generated from a range of biomass including sewage sludge, wood, algae and agricultural waste.

The research results of both EBRI and the Fraunhofer UMSICHT can be used by industry and are particularly relevant for small and medium-sized companies. EBRI currently has ERDF funding to work with West Midlands based businesses to provide free business support and enable them to explore the potential of this research and high growth market. There are currently only two other Fraunhofer collaborations in the UK.

Professor Dame Julia King, Vice-Chancellor of Aston University, said: “Tackling the challenge of sustainability is a key priority for Aston University as reducing carbon emissions is absolutely critical for tackling climate change. This close alignment with the Fraunhofer UMSICHT means Aston University and Fraunhofer are ideally positioned to make the crucial breakthroughs in developing sustainable energy solutions for the benefit of all in society.”

Professor Eckhard Weidner, Director of Fraunhofer UMSICHT said: “I’m delighted to have found Professor Hornung for our institute branch as a specialist in the field of bioenergy. He is a renowned expert in the areas of energy storage and energy conversion – important research areas of Fraunhofer UMSICHT. His experiences in the UK founding the European Bioenergy Research Institute (EBRI) open up very good opportunities for us regarding an international cooperation. Professor Hornung is part of a global research network, an important requirement to address global challenges of such as the shortage of energy and resources and to develop the solutions of the future together through research cooperation.”

Professor Hornung is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry and of the Institution of Chemical Engineers. In 2012, he received the Green Leader Award of the West Midlands.

Further information, images or interviews: Louise Russell, EBRI Marketing & Communications Officer, 0121 204 4637 or


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Notes to Editors

1.     The European Bioenergy Research Institute (EBRI) at Aston University has been established since 2007 and bioenergy research has been taking place at the University from as early as 1978. EBRI staff conduct world-class research into all aspects of bioenergy, ranging from fundamental research through development, to deployment of innovative technologies, in collaboration with industry. EBRI works with regional, national and international businesses and organisations to help them realise opportunities from this new high growth sector.

2.     Since 1990 Fraunhofer UMSICHT, Institute Branch Sulzbach-Rosenberg develops concepts and processes which directly relate to the economy in order to allocate and make an efficient use of energy, raw materials and materials. It employs about 60 staff members. Fraunhofer UMSICHT in Oberhausen develops technical innovations in the fields of environmental, material, process and energy technology. In 2011 the staff comprised 345 members, the institute generated a turnover of 24.8 million EUR. The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft is the leading organization for applied research in Europe. The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft employs a staff of around 20,000, who work with an annual research budget totaling 1,8 billion euros.

3.       The Department for Communities and Local Government is the managing authority for the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) Programme which runs from 2007 to 2013. This is one of the funds established by the European Commission to help local areas stimulate their economic development. The West Midlands ERDF Programme has been allocated €400 million to invest in projects which will support local businesses and create jobs. Priority areas and themes for the West Midlands are: Innovation and Research & Development, Enterprise Development, Sustainable Urban Development, and Inter-Regional Activity.