After first attending a workshop about writing a researching a thesis (a good challenge!), the first part of the Biomass module began. Our group split into two groups, the others studying wind power, and we got straight to work learning about different types of fuel and all the regulations that influence a Biomass boiler design.
On our second day of the module, we went out on a day trip to visit a number of local companies with biomass boilers. First on the list was a local woodchip producer, Peter Bottoms. Next stop was Plas Crug in Aberystwyth, a biomass plant heating the new Welsh Assembly Government offices next door. Then onto the CRAFT building in Aberystwyth where the Biomass boiler has only just been fixed after a number of years of lying dormant. Finally, we stopped at IBERS, a research centre linked to the University of Aberystwyth, where we got to look inside a laboratory and learn about the research into other potential biomass fuels. We had the opportunity to ask questions and have a good look around each stop, so that we knew exactly what a biomass plant was all about.
I had never really seen a biomass boiler operational before and this day of site visits was a very valuable experience. We also got to have a closer look at the two Biomass boilers at CAT, with a number of data loggers recording their performance and efficiency. The tutors even trusted one of us to light one of them!
Our coursework, for this module, is to design a Biomass boiler for the Y Plas building, which we looked at during the Building Related Issues module 2. We’ve split ourselves into 3 different groups: sizing the boiler, finances, and fuel.
To celebrate the silly season, we enjoyed a great Christmas party organised by Rachael. There was a wonderful Christmas meal, served skillfully by our tutors. And though I was initially concerned about the gift I selected from the Secret Santa bag, it turned out to be an innocently large squash. The gifts were exceedingly creative, perhaps as you can’t get much for a pound these days. It was a fancy dress theme, and subsequently I spent the night anticipating the appearance of an Elvis. There is something extremely strange about being in one room with four Santas.