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Innovate UK

How can we heat our homes without warming the planet?

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Global warming

We are a small company based in Swindon, UK, that has developed a new technology to produce affordable, green natural gas called bio-substitute natural gas or BioSNG from everyday household waste.

Our new project all started when we responded to an Innovate UK challenge in 2013. Our idea was to identify new ways of recycling waste into energy.

We began working with three partners:

  • National Grid
  • Progressive Energy
  • Carbotech

Together we identified two industry sectors that we could make a difference in:

  1. energy and the heating of homes
  2. transport sector in the provision of decarbonised fuel within the heavy goods environment

Both sectors needed a change and both sectors required improvement to their fuel needs.

Both were using gases that were harmful to environment (fossil gases).

How does the process work?

Five stages in creating BioSNG gas & fuel

Our Gasplasma® process can accept a wide range of wastes or biomass which are gasified to produce a synthesis gas (syngas) that is heated to over 1200°C in a plasma furnace while being exposed to an electric arc.

The resulting high quality, tar-free syngas is cooled in a waste heat boiler and remaining contaminants removed using conventional gas cleaning technology

The cool, clean syngas is compressed and undergoes a series of catalysed reactions to convert it to methane and carbon dioxide.

The carbon dioxide is separated using a pressure swing adsorption system leaving high purity methane, which meets all the requirements for use in the gas network.



The process is highly efficient and flexible. All of the individual steps of the process are technically mature.

The innovation lies in the way they are combined.

Why did we go down the gas route?

Over the past decade, the UK’s renewable sources of electricity, such as wind and solar, have grown quickly.

The UK has also made great progress in reduction of greenhouse emissions. But still missing from all that good work was: how can we make gas ‘greener’?

We began with the UK’s gas infrastructure and how it provides gas to homes and businesses throughout the UK.

Then we reviewed the existing delivery network of pipes and processers in place and realised by creating BioSNG from waste, we could:

  • provide a new source of gas to the UK
  • help save millions of pounds on infrastructure in development costs
  • help reduce the number of UK landfills as waste would go move into our gas production cycle and be recycled

What are the achievements of the project?

The pilot plant’s results and learnings have included:

  • Syngas that is made from household waste can be used to produce methane. The simulations of the process have been optimised and validated.
  • Economic models built on the technical outcomes and discussions with suppliers clearly show that BioSNG can be produced from waste at a cost that is similar to fossil gas.
  • Environmental models show that the greenhouse gas impact of BioSNG production is driven by the carbon intensity of the electricity used in the production process. This is expected to fall very quickly over the next five years as renewables replace coal generation. However, even at current carbon intensities, BioSNG from waste has greenhouse gas emissions 69% lower than fossil gas.

Overall, the project has clearly demonstrated the technical, environmental and commercial feasibility of BioSNG.

What next?

The learnings from the pilot plant have been so well received, that all parties involved in the Innovate UK challenge are now moving into programme stage 2. We are about to start building the first commercial BioSNG plant in the UK.

A future vision coming to life in November 2016

The new commercial facility is expected to start production of gas early in 2018 and will deliver gas to the local grid for heating and to a local haulage firm to run a fleet of heavy goods vehicles.

The gas produced will be sufficient to heat around 1,500 homes or fuel around 75 vehicles.

The pilot plant will continue to be used to demonstrate BioSNG technology and will play an important part in the promoting our technology to Government, industry and overseas bodies who wish to move into BioSNG gas production.

Our goal today is for the development of further, larger scale BioSNG plants across the UK and around the world. We are aiming to make a real contribution to reducing the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions from both heat and transport.

Contact us 

To find out more about this project or to see how we might be able to help you, please contact us. 

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