The Bio-Energy research group, situated at the Faculty of Engineering at the North-West University is active in the field of second and third generation bio-refinery research, covering both biochemical and thermochemical production routes. The group consist of a unique blend of microbiologists, chemical engineers, biochemists and chemists, enabling the use of a diverse set of skills and knowledge in the research applications.

Although biorefineries are currently a hot topic across the globe, our group is the only one that we know of that covers all aspects of bio refinery products, including biofuels, biochemical and bioplastics. Because the research fields of the group covers both the biochemical and thermochemical production routes, we are able to produce a unique blend of products and processes that aren’t often encountered in most research groups. This makes our group uniquely suited to solve problems in the biomass to energy field.

The Bio-Energy research group has particular wide experience in thermochemical liquefaction, producing biochar as high quality coal substitute and soil remediation agent, and hydro-treatment of low value oils to high value fuels such as bio-based jet fuels and high value bio-chemicals.

They are currently one of only 2 groups in South Africa working in the field of thermochemical liquefaction and the only group in South Africa working in the field of hydrotreatment of oils/biomass for high value fuels production.

The group has state-of-the-art analysis capacity and capability for analysis and characterisation of biofuels and biochemical. They also completed a number of community projects including a number of renewable energy awareness workshops at a school in the local townships.

The group is actively working with industry partners that will implement the developed research towards lowering production costs, increasing revenue and lowering overall emissions and effluents from the production plants. Some of the groups’ research on ultrasonic irradiation has been implemented in industrial paper mills.

Green coal research

Contact details:

For more information on the research projects and outputs contact prof. Frans Waanders