4 September 2007

Ireland: Plans for € 50 million bioprocessing facility

Plans for a € 50 million bioprocessing facility in Carlow were announced by Prof. Jimmy Burke, head of the Teagasc Crops Research Centre. The plant will be used by Irish universities, the Irish Agriculture and Food Development Authority (Teagasc) and businesses to convert biomass materials into fibre, starter chemicals or other products.

Speaking at “Bioenergy 2007″, Irelands largest outdoor bioenergy event, he explained the concept of the proposed facility: “With biomass you can grow it, cut it, harvest it and burn it for energy in specially adapted boilers or power stations. The second phase is that before you burn, you take that biomass and put it through a bioprocessing factory, where the high element constituents of the biomass are extracted.”

“By integrating a variety of biomass conversion processes, all of these products can be made in one facility and Ireland has a major advantage because it is not only the world’s top producer of biomass, but was well up with the new science technologies,” he said.

“Researchers at the Institute of Technology Carlow (Carlow IT) and Teagasc’s National Crops Research Centre in Carlow, the University College Dublin (UCD), Trinity College Dublin (TCD), University College Cork (UCC) and the National Universtiy of Ireland, Maynooth (NUI) are already working on some components of this technology, but significant investment in a state of the art bioprocessing facility is required,” he added. “Ireland can become a major player in this regard and we have had discussions with major international companies and the co-operatives and Irish agribusinesses.”

The plan for the facility has been submitted to the state development agency Enterprise Ireland. Prof Burke envisaged that the proposed bioprocessing facility would also contain a pilot plant laboratory. Businesses would be able to lease the space and equipment to develop or scale up new projects or to optimise existing processes.

(Cf. News of 2006-10-31.)

Source: Biotechnology Ireland, 2007-08-31.

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