Wheat to Wheel Masterclass
As oil reserves become increasingly low; the need to deliver ‘greener’ fuel becomes ever more important and the global population continues to grow - how do we serve our fuel needs in a more sustainable way?
Dr Dave Richards, Managing Director of Vivergo Fuels – one of Europe’s largest biofuel producers when fully operational in 2012 explained to an audience of postgraduate management students the energy challenges businesses increasingly face, the role Biofuels can play and what specifically Vivergo Fuels will bring to this global market.
Vivergo’s plant will produce around 420 million litres of bioethanol from wheat each year. Annually, 1.1 million tonnes of feed grade wheat (the majority sourced from within a 50 mile radius) will be used at Vivergo’s plant based at Saltend, near Hull. This makes the company the biggest wheat buyer in the UK. The process at the plant uses this wheat to produce 420 million litres of bioethanol and 500,000 tonnes of animal feed per year.
Biofuels offer the advantage that they have the potential to reduce overall GHG emissions from road transport because the plants from which they are produced absorb CO2 when they are grown. This offsets the CO2 released from the vehicle when the blended biofuel is used.
Bioethanol is produced by the fermentation of starch or sugars in a very similar way to the method used to produce beer and wine. Fermentation is followed by distillation to remove the water and impurities and produce a pure alcohol. Petrol containing up to 5% bioethanol can be used in any unleaded car on the road in the UK today. In the longer term, there is potential for all ordinary cars to use higher blends. Ford and Saab already supply models to the UK which will run on bioethanol / petrol blends up to 85% bioethanol (E85).
Vivergo’s bioethanol will offer Green House Gas (GHG) savings in excess of 50% over standard petrol production (minimum set by the Renewable Energy Directive is 35%), the equivalent of removing 180,000 cars from the road each year.
School head, Steve Toms commented: “Guest lectures such as this are so beneficial to our students as they provide an insight into a wide range of businesses. Using it’s extensive links with business and public sector organisations, the School’s Centre for Business Collaboration arranges a number of guest lectures and seminars throughout the year”.