CREST provides industry R&D, demonstration and testing facilities for new renewable energy products and sustainable technologies. The facilities are be used by small companies within the region who have ideas for new products but who currently do not have the physical and/or technical capacity to develop, test and commercialise them. Within CREST facilities staff are accessible to develop, demonstrate and test new technologies and show how these can be integrated practically and sensibly to achieve energy savings. Services offered by CREST will include:
- R&D in renewable energy systems and sustainable technologies
- Development and testing of sustainable construction methods and materials
- Innovative product and component design
- Development of demonstration prototypes and models
- Testing of renewable energy systems and products
- Demonstration and testing of retrofit technologies
- Data analysis and performance monitoring
- Advice and consultancy on renewable energy and sustainable technologies
The CREST partners all have a CREST centre within their facilities. The new CREST centre at IT Sligo is integrated into its existing state of the art research and development centre. Through CREST it has invested in an exceptional 3D printing facility. Dumfries and Galloway College has constructed its new CREST building on campus. This accommodates the CREST staff and a range of renewable energy demonstration equipment. Cavan Innovation and Technology Centre has a centre just off the Dublin Road on the outskirts of Cavan town. A small workshop is available with 3D printing facilities and renewable energy demonstration equipment. The flagship facilities for CREST are located at South West College’s Technology and Skills Centre in Enniskillen and comprise of three areas; the CREST Passive Pavilion, the R&D Laboratory and CREST Hub.
The Pavilion is a new building which meets high levels of environmental standards through its construction and the Hub and R&D laboratory have been integrated into the existing Skills Centre building.
The Passive Pavilion
The Pavilion area of CREST provides demonstration and testing facilities to showcase innovative products and processes and the use of renewable technologies in construction. The Pavilion was designed to engage industry through experiencing (seeing, touching) new sustainable technologies and materials allowing for a deeper engagement in and understanding of the techniques on display.
Products on display include:
- new construction technologies for example, passive house detailing
- natural building materials e.g. hempcrete, wood fibre insulation
- renewable technologies including solar hot water heating, micro-hydropower and air source heat pumps
- SMART technologies
- The Pavilion is a dynamic facility and allows for annual/biannual reconfiguration to include emerging technologies.
Outside the Pavilion there are demonstration pads which will be used to demonstrate and test different technologies, especially those best suited to an outdoor environment. There is also an innovative 45kW robotic solar PV tracking system – the first of its type to be installed in the UK and the island of Ireland – situated directly outside the building. The “passive pavilion” building itself is showcasing the best in environmentally responsible design through its planning, choice of materials and energy systems. It has been designed to meet the Passive House standard, to achieve a BREEAM Excellent rating and to be carbon neutral. It is the first building in the UK and Ireland to meet all three of these standards.
The R&D Lab
Within the R&D lab a range of advanced prototyping, testing and development facilities are available to enable staff at the centre to support companies with practical hands-on new product development. The R&D lab comprises a large workshop facility which can be divided into smaller project workspaces. Some of the CREST projects involves the development of highly innovative ideas for which IP protection will be required and thus some of the project workspaces are screened from public accessto prevent disclosure issues. Equipment within the R&D lab includes biomass and biogas testing facilities, and a range of testing and ancillary equipment.
The Hub forms the central office area within the CREST centre and comprises of a modern office and meeting space where the CREST team meets with companies to discuss their requirements and outline the services available. The CREST centre in Enniskillen forms the core of a larger network of satellite facilities in Sligo, Cavan and Dumfries in Scotland, and modern electronic communications facilities are available within the Hub to link with these sites (e.g. Videoconferencing, web conferencing etc.)
Biogas technology at CREST
Increasing emphasis is being placed on both the destination of our wastes and the generation of sustainable power. With power generation predicted to become more de-centralised upto and after 2016, technologies able to generate continuous and reliable energy are coming increasingly into focus. One such technology, capable of continuous generation at a steady output is anaerobic digestion (biogas).
Northern Ireland and Scotland have seen significant growth in the past five years in the application of biogas technology. The growth in this industry has been significantly enhanced though the ROC and FIT schemes to incentivise renewable power generation.
Traditionally, our European neighbours have been ahead in the development and implementation of biogas technology and as a result, Germany alone represents 30% of the global installed capacity at some 3,000MW. Austria, Denmark and Sweden have also embraced biogas technology and generate significant proportions of their local power demand from these systems.
Biogas technology operates on a wide range of feedstocks (material used to generate power from). Almost any organic matter can be used in a biogas system to feed the microbiology in the biogas tanks with the end result being methane which can be burnt to generate electricity and heat.
With the recent growth in the UK market, the majority of technology being installed has been imported. This has many benefits such as proven, tried and tested equipment however also presents numerous drawbacks such as lack of local knowledge on local installation standards and experience operating biogas systems on feedstocks available locally.
The type of feedstock being used in the biogas plant will determine the amount of power generated. Power generation is as a direct result of gas production from the breakdown of the feedstock. Feedstocks such as food waste or silage have high gas generation potential whilst slurry or waste water have low potentials.
To efficiently specify a biogas system, the level of gas expected to be generated must be accurately known. This will allow parts to be specified and economic appraisals to be completed before decisions are made on system viability. The level of gas generated by a feedstock will also directly correlate to the market value of that material. Those feedstocks with high gas potentials will attract high prices when sold to a biogas plant whilst those with low gas potentials will be less attractive.
To assist the growing biogas industry in our region, CREST has developed a range of testing services. Having invested in new laboratory apparatus, CREST is now able to offer;
- Gas quality testing (Methane, Carbon Dioxide, Oxygen, Hydrogen Sulphide, Temperature) Feedstock and Digestate nutrient analysis (N,P,K)
- Feedstock biogas potential (total gas yield, gas quality, retention times)
- Digester performance tracking and optimisation (FOS/TAC and Volatile Fatty Acids)
- Batch and continuously fed digestion analysis
- Pre-treatment system performance assessment
- Digester additive performance analysis
The range of services available through CREST has been developed in co-operation with local industry to identify specifically which particular analysis and techniques are the most desirable and commonly used. Further analysis and techniques can be developed on request to address any requirement for information on the digestion process.
For further information on how to access the biogas testing facilities at CREST please speak to one of the team.