CityU to establish Hong Kong’s first biofuel research centre

Karen Cheng

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The School of Energy and Environment of City University of Hong Kong (CityU) is to establish Hong Kong’s first Biofuel Research Centre by forming a partnership with the Edinburgh Napier University in UK to undertake research into sustainable alternatives to fossil-based fuels.

The centre will not only be the first of its kind in Hong Kong but also a key component of the School of Energy and Environment. It will address the rising global demand for sustainable and non-fossil-based fuels, and Hong Kong’s urgent need to accommodate its ever-increasing volume of waste.

A partnership Memorandum of Understanding was signed between CityU and Edinburgh Napier University on 28 January. The focus of the centre is research and development relating to renewable energy via second generation biofuels emanating from a diverse range of non-food crops and waste matter. Biofuels are energy sources made from renewable biological materials, unlike traditional fossil fuels such as oil and coal, which are not sustainable.

“This centre represents a key development for the School of Energy and Environment. We expect that it will become an important hub for scientific biofuel research that will eventually lead to the commercialisation of new technologies. It also serves to bolster our professional education capabilities to the benefit of various sectors of society, including the government, industry, academia and the general public,” said Professor Johnny Chan Chung-leung, Dean of the CityU School of Energy and Environment.

Edinburgh Napier University set up the first Biofuel Research Centre in the UK. The two universities will initially work on acquiring the necessary equipment and recruiting academic and research personnel for the centre, which will then be extended to the development and application of joint research projects, student and faculty exchange programmes and joint partnerships with private industries in Hong Kong and mainland China.

“Scotland is at the forefront of renewable energy research and technology. Sustainability is a hugely relevant issue and one of Edinburgh Napier’s highest priorities. The Edinburgh Napier University and CityU collaboration is an important step in the global search for new and more sustainable energy solutions,” said Professor Dame Joan Stringer, DBE, Principal and Vice Chancellor of Edinburgh Napier University.

Professor Martin Tangney, Director of the Biofuel Research Centre, Edinburgh Napier University, said, “Edinburgh Napier University’s Biofuel Research Centre has achieved international acclaim and we look forward to sharing our experience and expertise in establishing this joint research centre at CityU. 2010 is a critical moment for renewable energy research. This is a tremendous opportunity for Hong Kong to become the R&D hub and commercialisation centre for renewable energy technologies in China and beyond. This is the decade where it will all happen.”

The new centre will begin its research activities as soon as the necessary equipment is in place. It is expected that much of the future funding will come from government research grants and industrial partnerships. The centre will be located within the premises of the School of Energy and Environment, which will be in The Science and Technology Parks.

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