Student blog: Leanda on biomass wood heating

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This module was the second part of double biomass. We had organised ourselves into groups, during the last module, and had work to do both individually and together towards the group presentation at the end of the week.

Part 1 was mainly about burning woody Biomass, to prepare us for the assessed work. This part was dedicated to the many other fuels that make biomass such an enormous and fascinating subject. There were a number of guest speakers who were incredibly knowledgeable about their respective fields.

Gordon Allison talked to us again, this time about liquid biofuels and the research that IBERS is doing into them. We meet him in his laboratory during the last module but this time he gave us a lecture.

Duncan Kerridge also talked to us again; this time about District Heating systems. District heating is more widely used in other countries, and has a valuable and growing role to play.

Cordner Peacocke, from CARE in Northern Ireland gave us two information packed lectures on Gasification (burning with oxygen) and Pyrolysis (burning without oxygen) with a number of real life projects that he had been involved with. This area is very much in its infancy but is very up and coming.

Judith Thornton, from the Welsh School of Architecture Cardiff, gave us a lecture on Anaerobic Digestion (AD). It was encouraging to hear that what we consider to be waste, is being used to provide energy.

Finally Andrew Boroughs from Organic Energy, gave us an inspiring lecture on Okofen pellet boilers. It was an honour to hear from someone who had very moralistic principals on how business/renewable energy should be conducted. The whole room was impressed and I know that someone enquired about possible work with his company afterwards.

It was actually quite nice to be doing a group presentation. I’m not great on presentations and it sort of took the pressure off a bit so that I could see that they aren’t as big a deal as I was making them out to be. We had to listen to all the Wind Power (the other module running in parallel) and Biomass presentations and I learnt a lot from doing that. I hope to build on this in the modules to come and reach my potential.

All week, I had been burning the midnight oil on the group presentation front. By Saturday night I made a break for freedom and spent some of the night in the local pub with fellow coursemates before returning to CAT to be confronted by party games that would make a Health & Safety Officer have a heart attack. Luckily no bones were broken and the only bruises were to egos.

One of my favourite things about this course is the people on it. You get to know them so much better than you would on a standard university course. The course is pretty intense; you spend a lot of time with each other. However, I’m lucky to be surrounded by such great people. No-one else at home would engage in conversations with me about the possibility of harnessing hamster power in a gigantic hamster wheel. Big ideas have to start somewhere!