Search on for firms who will find new bio-fuel sources

The Oxford Times: Transport Minister Baroness Kramer pictured with, from left, Ralph Overend, Nick Brooks and Zhiheng Wu in the research lab at Fusion Blends on the Milton Park estate, near Didcot Buy this photo » Transport Minister Baroness Kramer pictured with, from left, Ralph Overend, Nick Brooks and Zhiheng Wu in the research lab at Fusion Blends on the Milton Park estate, near Didcot

IN THE film Back to the Future II, inventor Emmett Brown arrives in his Delorean car powered by rubbish.

In the 1980s the concept sounded far- fetched but now it could become a reality within a few years.

Transport Minister Baroness Kramer has been at Milton Park, near Didcot, to formally unveil a £25m competition to find businesses willing to develop the next generation of low carbon fuels for transport. It could see yoghurt pots being turned into diesel or jet fuel being derived from household waste or plant material.

She said: “I would like to see the UK become a leader in advanced fuels. This competition is to set up a demonstration project. It will be crucial to see it move from the laboratory.

“Sometimes we get very pertinent ideas from this process – the competitive nature of it creates that level of success.”

Baroness Kramer stressed the importance of moving away from so-called first generation biofuels which focus on oils created from crops that use up agricultural land to instead focusing on waste materials that may otherwise be thrown away and go to landfill.

She added: “The future of fuels is focused on the use of waste products. We need to do more work in the area of advanced biofuels so we gain the best outcome for the environment and industry.”

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Baroness Kramer was speaking during a visit on Wednesday to Future Blends in Milton Park which itself was created by the Carbon Trust last year as a result of a Government-backed competition to create a new fuel from a process known as pyrolosis which turns materials such as straw and woodchips into an oil-like substance similar to diesel.

Since moving to Milton Park, Future Blends, which employs 10 staff, has spent £6m on setting up a lab to prove the technology and recently opened a mini pilot plant to test its production capabilities.

The aim is to push the process to be in a position for full scale commercial production by 2015.

Chief executive Nick Brooks said: “Instead of being burned, waste wood and agricultural products such as straw are turned into fuel and so are used more efficiently.”

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