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News Archive 2012

€8.1 billion R+D budget announced during launch of the final EU Framework 7 funding calls

On 10th July, the European Commission announced the final set of calls for proposals for research under its Seventh Framework Programme (FP7). This is the biggest ever set of calls, dedicating €8.1 billion to support R&D projects and ideas that will boost Europe's competitiveness and tackle societal issues.
QUESTOR will work with researchers and industry (both within and outside the network) to develop proposals for submission to this final call. The first proposal submission dates are in October 2012.

European Commission FP7 Calls


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QUESTOR Welcomes New Chinese Member Company

Dr Wilson McGarel and Dr Julie-Anne Hanna have just returned from a very successful visit to China. They visited the Fujian Longyan Lehonor Co. Ltd. to formally welcome them as a QUESTOR member company and to discuss how QUESTOR and the company can collaborate effectively.  Discussions also took place regarding a joint Research Centre that will be a collaboration between Longyan Lehonor Co. Ltd., the QUESTOR Centre and Liaoning Petrochemical Company.Meetings also took place with Beijing Jentai Fuels Company  and Beijing Dalian Golden Land Energy Co. Ltd. to discuss possible collaboration and QUESTOR Membership. Dr McGarel and Dr Hanna also visited the China National Chemical Information Centre (CNCIC) in Beijing to discuss how both organisations can work together to help establish QUESTOR in China.The visit to China was organised by Ms. Xiaojing Zhang, CEO of Greenviro Technologies Co. Ltd., the first Chinese company to join QUESTOR.  

News 09/07/12  

Mr Jianfang Zheng- CEO of Fujian Longyan Lehonor Co. Ltd and Dr Wilson McGarel

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German companies develop project proposals with QUESTOR team during collaboration workshop in Mulheim

A team from the QUESTOR Network, including representatives from University of Duisburg-Essen, Queen’s University Belfast and Dundalk Institute of Technology met with a number of German companies in Mulheim on 20th June. The event was organised by ZENIT our long-standing collaboration partner in the North-Rhine Westphalia region and in attendance were a range of companies from across the manufacturing, water and environmental technology sectors. The event was arranged to highlight the success of the QUESTOR Network to German companies and involve them in upcoming project proposals being developed for submission to the final calls of European collaborative funding through Framework 7. The workshop was a great success with a number of project proposal ideas for specific calls being discussed in detail and a number of the companies in attendance expecting to participate as full partners. QUESTOR hopes to further build partnerships with the North-Rhine Westphalia region and develop further collaborations with German companies.


German companies at EU Projects Workshop
German companies at EU Projects Workshop

 German companies at EU projects workshop

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Monitoring key parameters essential to boosting the performance of your biogas plant

Researchers from QUESTOR learned how the major UK biogas companies ensure operational stability and efficient performance through regular monitoring of essential parameters during a recent conference for the Anaerobic Digestion industry in Nottingham (Operational Experiences with Full-Scale Anaerobic Digestion Plants Treating Food and Farm Derived Waste in the UK). In addition to core parameters such as pH, temperature and volatile solids concentrations the advice to industry was that regular testing of Volatile Fatty Acids, trace elements and Biochemical Methane Potential were necessary to maintain plant stability and high biogas yield. QUESTOR currently provide all of these tests on a commercial basis through the Applied Technology Unit and are also involved in a WRAP Funded Project to develop the next generation of biogas plant monitoring equipment. Network partners AFBI gave a detailed presentation on operational experiences from the operation of their full-scale farm based digester during the conference.

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Green Week at Brussels, 22 to 25 May 2012

Last week was Green Week at Brussels, the biggest annual conference on European environment policy and this year's theme was "Water". Dr Elaine Groom from the QUESTOR Centre has been in attendance and participated in several sessions including the sharing of experiences from the ATWARM Marie Curie ITN project.


Northern Ireland Minister updated on plans to improve regulation and compliance of domestic wastewater treatment

As part of QUESTOR’s KTP project with member company VILTRA, a new industry representative body, SIMM NI has been formed.
SIMM is a collaboration between members of the waste water treatment industry supply chain in Northern Ireland, which represents members of the industry to the Assembly, institutions and groups, customers and the media.

Representatives of SIMM including Simon Murray from the Applied Technology Unit, have met with the Environment Minister and members of the Water Management Unit in the NIEA.
The meeting was arranged with the intention of updating the Minister on developments in wastewater treatment industry, restricting legislation and the way that SIMM is proposing to help the industry to improve the current standards.


The Minister outlined the obligations on Northern Ireland’s water quality especially with the Water Framework Directive’s deadlines of December 2015 and how this has particularly affected beaches.
SIMM outlined how they would assist maintenance and servicing by householders across Northern Ireland and thus help performance of all installed treatment systems and reduce the likelihood of pollution incidents. The Minister agreed that maintenance, services and performance were essential elements in improving water quality. SIMM and other bodies have a key role in pushing this agenda.
SIMM will continue to endeavour to become fully representative of the entire wastewater treatment industry and get all of the major players on board with our agenda to regulate the supply chain and raise industry standards. SIMM will fully involve the NIEA with their ongoing work and achievements and update the Minister with new developments for SIMM and the industry.
For more information please visit:

Chair of the QUESTOR research Committee,  Professor Mike Larkin investigates the impact of heath fires on soil microbiology in the Mourne Mountains

A year ago, forest and heath fires scorthched a substantial area in the Mourne Mountains, destroying ecosystems and natural habitats. Professor Mike Larkin was part of a team that scoured the area for life. He and a team of students started examining the blackened peat at the seat of the fire and found more than they had bargained for. “After last year's fires we decided to look at the levels of bacteria in the soil on either side of the burnt and unburnt areas of what are an upland heath", explained Mike.
"The surprise was that there were about ten times as many bacteria in the burnt area than there were in the unburnt area. What was really happening was, over a brief period, the bacteria were starting to grow in numbers. They were growing on the tarry material that was left over by the plants after they'd burnt.
Professor Larkin says that they've calculated that in the unburnt ground there are around ten million bacteria per gram of soil. In the burnt side the numbers shoot up to a hundred million bacteria per gram. A surprising amount of nitrogen-fixing bacteria were also detected. They are effectively fertilising the soil for the returning plants which allows the rapid recovery and succession of vegetation to the area.


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QUESTOR at QUB submitted an application to Interreg IVB NWE on 11th May.

RENEW (REsource innovation Network for European Waste) aims to build a dynamic trans-national, cross-sector innovation network, transforming the waste sector of North West Europe by improved innovation in the recovery of valuable resources. Organisations from Belgium, Germany, Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, as well as Finland and France, joined the RENEW consortium. Evaluation results are expected in September 2012.

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QUESTOR agrees to set up a Joint Research Centre

QUESTOR has formally agreed to set up a Joint Research Centre in China. The Centre will be a collaboration between Fujian Longyan Lehonor CO. Ltd, Liaoning Shihua (Petrochemical) University and the QUESTOR Centre.

Dr. Wilson McGarel (Director) and Dr. Julie-Anne Hanna (Manager of the Applied Technology Unit) will visit China in June to meet with the partners and agree a joint research programme.

Liaoning Shihua (Petrochemical) University is already an academic partner in the QUESTOR Network and Fujian Longyan Lehonor CO. Ltd joined as a QUESTOR member company in May 2012.


Date for your diary:

The date and venue for next year’s ATWARM conference have been set as 14th-16th May 2013, to be held at the Helix Theatre at Dublin City University. This event will showcase environmental innovations and industrially relevant research outputs from the QUESTOR Network. More details to follow in the coming weeks.


New Fusion project started:

QUESTOR and DS Environmental; Letterkenny; Co. Donegal, have just started a cross border Fusion collaboration project. The project will looks at new uses/products from domestic and industrial wastes with particular emphasis on energy recovery and added value products. By investigating innovative new methods of processing grease trap waste in an environmentally friendly manner, DS Enivronmental hope to reduce the overall cost to the hospitality industry.


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CASE at the Titanic Offshore Energy Event

On May 15th 2012, the Titanic Offshore Energy Event was held by Invest NI and The Crown Estate in the new Titanic building, Belfast. Over 300 business representatives were given an extensive view of the UK’s offshore energy programme.

QUESTOR’s new sister organisation CASE (Centre for Advanced Sustainable Energy), exhibited at the event and centre manager Sam McCloskey delivered one of the workshops, which included an introduction to the centre, the accessibility to world class research in Northern Ireland for industry and the EnTERNI Project, which is our proposed development of a commercial demonstration site for an array of 10MW of tidal turbines.

RV Corystes- owned by AFBI, which carried out environmental research on the site of the proposed Tidal Turbine demonstration site off the North Shore.


Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment Arlene Foster was in attendance and in her opening speech endorsed the new Competence Centre and the proposed Tidal Turbine demonstration site.  Minister Foster reiterated the potential for “businesses to explore opportunities in the supply chain either on their own or in collaboration with others”

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Biomass and Biogas Sectoral Mission to Northern Germany and Denmark November 2012
* Expressions of Interest Sought *


Invest NI is part of the Enterprise Europe Network (EEN).  With our colleagues in the region, we are organising a mission to Shcleswig in Northern Germany, and across the border into Denmark. The trip will likely to be 2 days and will take in BioMass and Bio Gas Research Projects and visits to fully commercialised applications. This will be an opportunity to look for technology that  could be transferred by license or joint venture. The probable date is the week beginning 5th November 2012. Support for travel and accommodation can be applied for.


 At this stage we need companies interested to attend a briefing session at 10.00 am on 3rd April in Invest NI HQ in Belfast.

*If you would like to attend please contact Debbie Vance 02890698781

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QUESTOR assistance to company generates sales

In an article in the Belfast Telegraph last week Pulse Eco Shower praised the testing done by QUESTOR ATU which has helped it gain customers.”

This article describes how research done by QUESTOR for a local NI company, Pulse Eco Shower  , has benefitted the company in allowing Pulse Eco to approach much wider markets.

QUESTOR research (link to short report) looked at the reduced water usage of Pulse Eco's innovative new Pure Pulse shower head (40%-60% less) and also measured a significantly decreased rate of limescale and bacterial build up when compared to standard conventional competitors shower heads. Pure Pulse has been on trial with the NHS and after initial tests, results were very positive on the possible bacterial/limescale advantages Pure Pulse can make with regard to their "war against legionaires disease".

Pulse Eco Shower were very happy with the research QUESTOR provided for them saying: ” Thank you for your excellent research on our technology as it has made such a positive and dramatic impact on our companies projected growth and we look forward to working with you again very soon.”

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Fujian Longyan Lehonor Co. Ltd has become the second Chinese company to join as a QUESTOR member.

The company is based in Longyan City in Fujian province and produces liquified gas, gasoline, diesel oil, fuel oil, lubricating oil, modified asphalt, petroleum coke and other clean energy resources.

In addition to joining as a member company, Lehonor has agreed to set up a joint research centre with the QUESTOR Centre and Liaoning Shihua (Petrochemical) University.



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QUESTOR meeting, Tuesday 1st May and Wednesday 2nd May, held at Cranfield University, Bedfordshire, UK

QUESTOR held its bi-annual May meeting at Cranfield University, UK.
The 2 day programme included a tour of the facilities at Cranfield University, plus presentation of selected projects from the QUESTOR and ATWARM research programmes. The QUESTOR Industrial Advisory Board meeting was also held and more details, including minutes from the IAB meeting will be available on the QUESTOR secure members site.
Some images from the meeting can be viewed below.

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Press Release: Muelheim Water Award 2012

Submission of the Muelheim Water Award 2012 starts in January.

The Muelheim Water Award is going into the 4th round, and submission for 2012 starts in the beginning of next year. During the coming submission, applications within the topic “Progress in Water Supply and Sanitation” can be submitted from 1st January 2012. The application period will close on 29th February 2012, 12.00 a.m. CET.

Further information concerning the topic of submission as well as the application procedure can be found on

The 2010 winner was Prof. Thomas Egli from the Swiss Eawag Water Research Institute pictured in the center, collecting his award.

?Prof. Thomas Egli from the Swiss Eawag Water Research Institute   

Click here for a pdf of the promotional flyer

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Conference on EIP Water and Agricultural Productivity and Sustainability
AFBI, QUESTOR and DARD in Brussels

Invest NI, in partnership with the Office of the Northern Ireland Executive in Brussels (ONIEB) and the European Regions Research and Innovation Network (ERRIN), organised a conference in Brussels to explore the regional dimension of the EIPs on Water as well as Agricultural Productivity and Sustainability. Not only was the event a great occasion to showcase AFBI and QUESTOR R&D and innovation capabilities, it was also an opportunity to reinforce Northern Ireland PLC links with the Commission and influence its work on 2 key European initiatives which will have a strong influence on Horizon 2020, as well as other EU funding programmes from 2014.

Download the bulletin, to learn more about:

- The planned European Innovation Partnerships for "Agricultural Productivity and Sustainability" and “Water”
- Future Internet calls
-The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT)  and the Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs)
- Preparing for HORIZON 2020
- Cyprus Presidency of the Council of the EU
- Relevant upcoming events in Brussels
- Further information on the  Invest NI EU R&D Liaison Service

Please get in touch for more details

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Growing numbers of companies having  biogas potential testing (BMP) performed at QUESTOR

A growing number of UK and Irish companies are working with QUESTOR to measure the potential biogas yield of their anaerobic digestion plant feedstocks. QUESTOR ATU have this week just completed another batch of feedstock testing for a local company investing in biogas technology. Over the last few months, there have been a high number of requests for this analysis from renewable energy companies developing biogas plants. A number of samples and feedstock blends have already tested enabling the companies to plan and monitor their plant operation. QUESTOR ATU have the capability to perform BMP testing, plus a wide range of other analyses and services for the biogas sector on a commercial basis.

Biochemical Methane Potential (BMP) testing is a lab-based test that measures the biogas yield and quality, from a batch of feedstock. This information can be used to identify the best feedstocks, optimal blends and help understand the biogas and digestate quality that can be expected from the feedstock. To learn more about BMP analysis or get a quotation please contact us. More information is available on our BMP page.


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ATWARM Summer School 2, a Titanic Success!

The second ATWARM project summer school was held in Belfast during July. It began with 2 (rainy) days of highly interactive content as part of the UK GRAD school programme. Wednesday morning saw the group convene to the birthplace of the Titanic for a history lesson on Belfast's historic legacy of ship-building, milling and linen-making. This was followed in the afternoon by a trip to AFBI and an insight into Northern Ireland's agricultural sector and the pressures this places on water resources. Thursday began with a trip to the Belfast industrial manufacturing site of the world's third largest aircraft manufacturer and QUESTOR member, Bombardier Aerospace. This was followed by a series of talks on technology application and groundwater contamination before the group travelled to NI Water's impressive Training and Development Centre at Antrim where the group listened to presentations on trade effluent discharges and carbon foot-printing. The group were also given an in-depth tour of the wastewater treatment works site. Friday gave a chance to reflect on individual projects and learn how to best commercialise and publicise the research outputs. Finally, the group travelled to the Lough Neagh Discovery Centre at Oxford Island to gain a greater understanding of Northern Ireland’s largest lake and the challenges for NIEA and The River's Agency to protect our inland waterways.

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Completed KTP project delivers renewable energy capabilities to WIS

A Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) between QUESTOR and member company Williams Industrial Services (WIS) has embedded the improved biological and chemical process knowledge to deliver new biogas and wastewater projects, allowing the company to pursue new business opportunities.   The recently completed two years project saw Dr Rebecca O’Neill join WIS in August 2010 after completing her PhD in Chemical Engineering at Queen’s University. Rebecca worked on a number of key projects including the commissioning of one of Northern Ireland’s newest and largest farm based biogas plants. Successful outcomes of the project include:

¨ Monitoring protocol and commissioning plan established for full-scale biogas plant (500kw)

¨ Development of a company innovation register

¨ Implementation of a unit cost database

¨ New wastewater treatment product developed giving cost and carbon savings

¨ Patent pending on a new product and a new process implemented for filing patents

¨ Identification of new markets and consolidation of existing customer relationships. £300,000 additional sales generated.

¨ Secured £140,000 funding for collaborative research grant

Challenges addressed include delivering reductions in energy footprint of wastewater treatment while maintaining treatment performance and developing improved R+D capability in a fast moving engineering company working in a highly regulated sector.   Through the project Rebecca was able to build on her scientific knowledge and add complementary business and commercial skills to her portfolio and has gained significant project and resource management skills. She has partnered with her company and academic supervisors to write successful tenders and competitive grant applications.

QUESTOR Applied Technology Unit have completed 12 successful KTP projects, transferring new process knowledge and scientific capabilities into local NI companies in sectors such as renewable energy, wastewater treatment and manufacturing.

For further details on how a KTP can benefit your business please see our Case Study Flyer or Contact Us.


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Industry workshop for reducing energy costs

The Northern Ireland Polymers Association (NIPA) are holding an event: Energy Essentials for Cost Reduction at the Invest NI head office in Belfast on October 4th 2012. You are invited to this half day conference and workshop which will demonstrate how energy costs can be reduced with a clear understanding of the energy and carbon markets. There will be presentations from leading energy experts, environmental management providers and engineers, all providing their expertise on carbon management, energy procurement and energy management. These insightful talks will give you the information your business needs on how to move forward with reducing your carbon footprint and reducing your annual energy expenditure. This is an opportunity to turn practical steps into real added-value for your business.

More information on the event and a booking form.

Northern Ireland Polymers Association

Invest NI


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QUESTOR to exhibit at the UK’s largest integrated bioenergy event; the European Bioenergy Expo and Conference

QUESTOR will be attending and exhibiting at the European Bioenergy Expo and Conference (ebec 2012). ebec 2012 is expected to attract attendance from landowners, installers, food processors & factory managers, schools, hospitals and the healthcare sector, agricultural contractors and farmers, sustainability and facilities managers, architects and planners, local & central government and the finance and insurance industry. It is the UK's largest integrated bioenergy event, bringing the whole market together to discuss and debate the business issues, legislative challenges and opportunities. The comprehensive world class conference programme comprises over 100 free cutting edge seminars and case-studies. This event will provide the opportunity for companies to network and there will be potential to tap into this drive towards bioenergy and biomass market so that renewable heat and power targets for 2020 can be met. Come and meet us at our stand to learn about our research programme and collaborations with industry.

For more information visit these websites,

European Bioenergy Expo and Conference

 Conference Programme

or contact The QUESTOR Centre.


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QUESTOR commences new FUSION Partnership with innovative engineering company PE Services

QUESTOR have set up a new FUSION partnership with metal fabrication and engineering company PE Services. The project will see a recent graduate of Mechanical Engineering- Jamie Duffy, develop a practical, cost effective, efficient and reliable biomass boiler, with litter handling and heat distribution systems. Using a more environmentally friendly way of providing heat will significantly reduce costs and environmental impact. The practice of spreading large quantities of poultry litter on land is no longer considered acceptable because it can cause serious environmental problems by polluting watercourses and producing odours if not correctly managed. The poultry farming industry has come under increasing pressure to adopt a more environmentally acceptable method of disposal. If an effective biomass boiler solution can be developed during the 12 months of the Fusion project, these issues could be resolved.

A test unit will be set up on a farm in Kinsale, Co Cork, in order to develop a litter handling system, litter storage area, monitor performance of the boiler and litter moistures, monitor emissions and develop an efficient heat distribution system. The biomass boiler must be developed sufficiently to reliably deal with biomass combustion and subsequent emissions and other issues such as ‘clinkers’, wear and tear of equipment from various toxic gases. The knowledge which the QUESTOR Team possess will allow the technology to be changed and modified to deal with the ongoing issues which make burning litter so difficult.  This technology has been tried by competitors and failed or been very unreliable for numerous reasons. Through the elimination of the problems outlined, the company’s experience and the support of Jamie Duffy (graduate engineer) and QUESTOR, PE Services will be able to refine the technology. The overall objective of the project is to develop a biomass boiler unit for the poultry industry for disposing of chicken litter.

QUESTOR have a great deal of experience in FUSION projects and would be happy to discuss any aspects of the programme with you. Please contact us for further information.

Visit InterTradeIreland for information on information on Fusion Projects and how they can benefit your business.


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Resource Efficiency Capital Grant Scheme from Invest NI

Invest NI have released the application form for the 2012/13 to 2014/15 Resource Capital Grant Scheme. The main purpose of the funding is to encourage businesses of all sizes to install equipment that will result in water or material efficiencies beyond regulatory requirements.

To find out more about the scheme and if your business is eligible, please find more details here

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Interest in AD grows in build up to ADNI 2012 conference on October 3rd

The inaugural National Anaerobic Digestion Trade Show and Conference will be held on October 3rd hosted by Cré. Since the launch of the Renewable Obligations Certificates (ROCs), a substantial increase in the number of applications to build primarily farm anaerobic digestion plants. This event will give technology suppliers, consultants, regulators, waste company and Cré members the chance to take stock of real independent facts and key issues within the AD field. Please find below more details about the conference or contact QUESTOR for more information.

Cré National Anaerobic Digestion Trade Show and Conference Programme

Event Information

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Biomass Challenge Processing Fund from DARD

The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) have opened the call for new applications for their Biomass Challenge Processing Fund. The Fund aims to encourage agricultural and forestry businesses to install biomass fuelled technologies primarily to aid agricultural related activities. Note the last day for applications is November 30th 2012.

Contact QUESTOR for more information or visit the DARD website

Biomass Challenge Processing Fund Brochure

Application form


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The Met Office has launched a wind production forecast service specifically designed for wind farms and wind energy production

The service, called Wind Production Forecast Plus, provides energy generators, traders, consultants and grid operators with an accurate weather forecast to feed into their own power models, to help them predict how much energy will be generated from wind farm assets.

It has been designed for assessing energy production at onshore and offshore wind farm locations, and uses site observations, combined with the Met Office's Unified Model, surface data and high resolution site-specific modelling to produce half-hourly predictions up to six days ahead.
The Wind Production Forecast Plus is an upgrade to the Met Office's original service and the new version allows the use of wind speed observations from the site to further increase forecast accuracy and the addition of a 'nowcast'.

Wind Prediction Forecasts from the Met Office

For more information on sustainable energy from wind farms and wind energy production, please contact the Centre for Applied Sustainable Energy (CASE) or the QUESTOR Team


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Shell Springboard competition for UK based SME’s worth up to £40,000

QUESTOR member company Shell, has launched its annual Springboard competition. The competition now in its eighth year has already led to 62 businesses sharing over £2.25 million of development funding. A new round of project development prizes, worth up to £40,000 each, is being offered by Shell to UK-based SMEs with an innovative and commercially viable low-carbon business idea. Launching the new competition, Shell UK's Chairman, Graham van't Hoff, said that, ‘with low carbon enterprise rising up the national agenda, there had never been a more exciting time for businesses in the sector’. Entries for the new competition, the fund for which totals £330,000, opened on September 18th and will close on January 18, 2013. Applicants must be based in the UK; a SME, according to European definition and have been in business for at least three months.

If you wish to enter the competition or find out more about it contact the QUESTOR Team

Shell Springboard


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Green Genius, £3 million national competition aimed at driving forward the UK’s green growth agenda

The Greenius, or Green Genius, national competition aimed at driving forward the UK’s green growth agenda has opened and organisations are invited to compete for a share of £3 million for the development of innovative, near-market technologies leading to commercialisation.

Launched by the Deputy Prime Minister in June, the contestis seeking innovative solutions to questions of food, water and energy sustainability.  

This SBRI competition is jointly funded by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills(BIS).  The competition will be managed by the UK’s innovation agency, the Technology Strategy Board (

Food, water and energy are the themes of this challenge andthe competition is seeking solutions and ideas that will link 2 or preferably all 3 of these themes.  Solutions must be efficient and sustainable, andmust be capable of rapid commercialisation, providing significant benefits for consumers and/or businesses.

More detail on the challenge is listed on the TechnologyStrategy Board website

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£10m SBRI programme to improve the energy efficiency of existing non-domestic buildings

In March2012, the Technology Strategy Board launched a £10m SBRI programme to improvethe energy efficiency of existing non-domestic buildings.

This competition is funded by the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) with support and resourcing from the Technology Strategy Board.  The aim of the programme is to demonstrate innovative refurbishments that will reduce the demand for energy and cut carbon dioxide emissions and help companies to develop products suitable for the Green Deal. The second and final tranche of that competition is to open on 15 October 2012 This programme aims to address the barriers for innovative products to the market by providing the opportunity:

  • for building owners, architects, tenants, developers, facilities managers and service engineers to collaborate with their supply chain to undertake joint product research and development coupled with a building-scale trial
  • for deployment of new products and systems that have been developed but require a building-scale demonstrator and
  • for owners and managers of buildings to determine the value of an energy efficient refurbishment

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AWE International features QUESTOR article on Biogas Testing  

Trade magazine AWE International’s September 2012 issue features an article written by QUESTOR Applied Technology Unit staff about amethod of testing feedstock for biogas plants. 

“The Biochemical Methane Potential (BMP) test is a lab based test to determine the gas quality and quantity from a feedstock for an anaerobic digester. The BMP test is essentially a small scale replication of the processes happening in an anaerobic digestion plant. Although time consuming, it is a thorough and complete microcosm of the digestion process and therefore offers the most accurate estimate of gas yield and digestibility of samples.”

The magazine reports to Europe and the Middle East on matters relevant to the environmental analysis industry. The full article Optimising Biogas Yield can be accessed online.

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Renewables industry assured by Government's U-turn on support

British businesses have applauded the government's decision to continue providing support to medium scale renewables schemes under the Renewable Obligation (RO).

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WWEM 2012 to focus on the quality of monitoring

WWEM 2012, the 5th in a series of highly successful environmental monitoring events, will return to the Telford International Centre on 7th and 8th November 2012 to provide visitors with the latest information on regulations, standards, methods and technologies employed in laboratory, field and process monitoring applications.

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Excellent biogas presentations from ADNI 2012 now available on new Cré website

QUESTOR members AgriAD were one of the presenters and WIS Ltd, an exhibitor at the recent ADNI2012 conference organised by Cré.

The presentations from the ADNI 2012 conference can be downloaded from this link



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Tesco top retailer for carbon cutting fourth year in a row

Tesco has been named top UK retailer for tackling climate change according to the Carbon Disclosure Project's (CDP) FTSE 350 Leadership index.

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European Commission reveals plans to limit use of food cropsin biofuel production

The European Commission have announced major changes to the Renewable Energy Directive and Fuel Quality Directive, with the aim of limiting the use of food crops in biofuels production, while encouraging the market for advanced biofuels made from feedstocks that do not create additional demand for land.

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Siemens to pull the plug on solar power business

Siemens announced yesterday that it was pulling out of the solar business and is currently holding talks with potential buyers. Read more at:

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Innovation Vouchers for Energy, Water and Waste.

The Technology Strategy Board announces that round 2 of its Innovation Vouchers scheme for Energy, Water and Waste, will open in December 2012 and is due to close by the 23rd January 2013.

For more details go to:

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Upcoming CAFRE event: Practical on-farm Renewable Energy

CAFRE’s Greenmount Campus, Antrim on Tuesday 30th October 2012, 11.00am -9.00pm

The event flyer is available here.

This event aims to provide practical information on-farm renewable energy options for farmers and the rural sector. The event will include:

  • Case studies on Renewable Energy Technologies.
  • Seminars on the issues associated with Renewable Energy.
  • Tours of the College renewable energy installations.
  • Trade Exhibition.

QUESTOR will be among the exhibitors at this event, which attracted a large number of attendees last year. Come along and meet us at our stand in the Cyber Café to learn about our current R+D projects and biogas services for industry.

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Black tray recycling now possible with packaging breakthrough

Black plastic trays that can be detected in mixed waste streams and separated by reprocessing machinery may soon be a reality, thanks to a Danish packaging firm.

Færch Plast has developed a black CPET (crystalline polyethylene) material that can be picked out by near infrared (NIR) sensors in what it claims is a world first. Faerch, a manufacturer of high performance plastic packaging for the food industry, engineered the material in conjunction with several stakeholder sincluding WRAP, Nextek, Titech, Eurofins and UK supermarket retailers. Until now, recycling of black CPET trays commonly used in food packaging has not been possible as they can't be detected by the NIR sensors used by most recycling operators. Færch's senior manager Jesper Emil Jensen said it had been a complicated project because the current pigment used in these trays is both good at what it does and is also the cheapest form of black available on the market. "After considerable testing and trials using different dyes and pigments we now have a recyclable solution that is cost effective, aesthetically pleasing and functional," he said. Earlier this year WRAP announced breakthrough trials that identified certain reprocessing methods capable of separating out black plastics and other complex polymers. Over a million tonnes of plastics packaging still ends up going to landfill because of the difficulty of collecting and recycling films, challenges in detecting and sorting black plastics and the lack of high value markets for non-bottle plastics.

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Embracing traditional tea drinking culture could save businesses £31.8m

Staff at small businesses drink 41.2m cups of tea a day and E.ON claims that by regularly putting on the kettle just for themselves, solo "tea-lovers" could be costing businesses an additional £31.8m a year.

According to the research from E.ON, employees drink on average three hot drinks a day and a fifth (22%) of them are wasting energy by filling the kettle even when making just one drink. More than a third of small business employees (35%) do not join in with communal tea rounds at work and E.ON has called on employees to embrace traditional tea round culture in order to save energy and waste. E.ON sales and marketing director Anthony Ainsworth said: "Putting the kettle on for a round of drinks is more efficient than making a single cup of tea from a full kettle, especially if your colleagues will simply have tore-boil the water moments later. "With over 40m hot drinks made every day in offices, shops, restaurants and factories across the UK, tea-lovers could be enjoying a more efficient brew just by getting involved in the tea round - and they may get to know their colleagues a bit better too." Cutting the frequency and volume of kettle-boiling is key to greater 'tea-break efficiency' according to E.ON, and for the two thirds of SMEs that rely on atraditional kettle (64%), switching to a more energy efficient eco-kettle would also make an impact, it claimed.

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QUESTOR meeting next week, 13+14th November

Our 6 monthly QUESTOR network meeting takes place at Riddell Hall, Stranmillis Road, Belfast next week. This is an opportunity for all member companies, associated organisation and academics to come together to direct and discuss research and collaboration. Representatives from almost all of our industrial and academic partners will be present to select the next research projects to be funded and receive updates on the progress of current projects. Our ATWARM networking meeting is scheduled alongside the main QUESTOR meeting to enable all partners to meet with as many representatives from the Network as possible. All presentations are made available to members on our secure website after the meeting.

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Shopping centre achieves zero waste to landfill

Northern Ireland's second largest shopping centre, which serves 14 million shoppers a year, has been recognised for achieving zero waste to landfill.

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Whiskey Fix: A Surprising Water Treatment Solution

The great Homer Simpson once proclaimed that alcohol was "the cause of — and solution to — all of life's problems." Well, chalk one up in the "solution" column. A new water treatment technique, borne out of the whiskey distillation process, has the potential to save millions of lives by making dirty water potable.

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DARD Research Challenge Fund

The DARD Research Challenge Fund (RCF) is a key element of the DARD Evidence and Innovation Strategy. It gives small and medium sized businesses from the agri-food and other rural sectors an opportunity to get help with research.  This tranche of the Fund is worth £1,000,000 and aims to encourage industry-led consortia to get involved in research projects, by providing grant of up to 50% assistance with research funding.

The third tranche of the RCF is open for application from 8 October 2012 and closes on 18 January 2013 @ 5.00 pm

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QUESTOR Network Meeting November 2012

The second of this years bi-annual meetings was held at Riddel Hall, Queen’s University Belfast on the 13th and 14th November.  Delegates (representing academic partners and member companies/organisations) from the UK, Ireland, Germany, the Netherlands, US and China were given presentations on (i) new initiatives within QUESTOR and (ii) progress on current research projects.  Technology Transfer case studies were also added. The Industrial Advisory Board also prioritised and selected new research projects for funding.

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STREAM Final Workshop

QUESTOR attended the final conference of the STREAM and STEP-WISE projects in Brussels.

Conference participants discussed routes for improved dissemination of ‘water’ research outputs to industry and policy makers. The group highlighted the importance of involving these stakeholders in the early stages of project development. For more effective dissemination, the services of ‘knowledge brokers’ might be employed – to present scientific outputs in a succinct, accessible format for industry and government representatives.

EU officials, from DG Environment and DG Research & Innovation, as well as the European Water Partnership, discussed the importance of identifying ‘real market needs’ to improve research outputs for the water sector. Efforts should be made to link research projects in the water domain.


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Sustainable Utilisation of Poultry Litter

The development of sustainable and innovative solutions for the use or treatment of poultry litter which will address the issue of phosphorus surpluses arising from the application of poultry litter to agricultural land and prepare Northern Ireland for the new Nitrates Action Programme 2015-2018.

Invest Northern Ireland on behalf of the Northern Ireland Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) and the Northern Ireland Department of Enterprise Trade and Investment (DETI) propose to use the Small Business Research Initiative (in partnership with the Technology Strategy Board) to stimulate the development of sustainable and innovative solutions for the use or treatment of poultry litter.

The broiler poultry sector in Northern Ireland is a significant part of the local economy. The sector, however, produces a significant by-product around 260ktpa (thousand tonnes per annum) of poultry litter which could rise to 400ktpa within 5-10 years. Traditionally, the poultry industry in Northern Ireland has relied on spreading on agricultural land as its primary method for management of poultry litter, but such practices are no longer sustainable. Poultry litter has a relatively high phosphorus content and phosphate losses via run-off contributes to nutrient enrichment of streams, rivers and lakes (eutrophication). Action to address nutrient enrichment is required by EU legislation and further action is required in relation to the management of poultry litter before the next Nitrates Action Programme is agreed with the European Commission in 2014.

The sponsoring Departments are therefore seeking applications for an SBRI Competition to develop innovative solutions which will present the Northern Ireland poultry industry with practical, economic and sustainable ways of reducing the phosphorus surpluses which currently arise as a result of the application of poultry litter to land. Competition criteria will consider the appropriateness of the technical approach, how sustainability and environmental challenges will be addressed, the degree of innovation, and how this is balanced against project risk and timescales, the technical and commercial viability of the proposal, and the appropriateness of the project management arrangements and financial proposals.

It is also intended to hold an Open Day for potential Applicants in early January 2013 in Belfast.  Interested applicants should register their details with by end December 2012

The competition is  open from  10th December 2012.  The deadline for registration is 12.00 noon, 13th February 2013 and the  deadline for receipt of applications is  12.00 noon, 20th February 2013.  

For more details on the challenge and to register for the competition see the Technology Strategy Board website:


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Stay up to date on the ATWARM project by viewing the latest posters and presentations.

At the recent ATWARM networking meeting all Fellows, Supervisors and the management team discussed progress todate and looked forward to the final year of the project. All Fellow presentations showed the tremendous progress that has been made in each project and demonstrated the promise that exists for new products, services and research opportunities as outcomes of the ATWARM ITN. The team discussed plans for the 2013 International conference and Summer School 3 in detail and these will be promoted over the coming months. Click here to view the dissemination outputs of the project including all posters and presentations from the meeting on Nov 13/14th.


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Disposal of medication is a pollution concern and there are opportunities to modify our behaviour to protect our environment. QUESTOR researchers discuss.

In the December 2012 Issue of the CIWM, QUESTOR researchers present the results of a survey on the disposal of medications.  Dr Anne Morrissey, secretary of the Irish Centre Council of CIWM and a principal investigator at Dublin City University,and Cecilia Fenech (ATWARM Fellow), an early stage researcher at Dublin City University, in collaboration with Dr Kieran Nolan and Dr Luc Rock, ask whether disposal of non-ingested pharmaceuticals within households is a waste management concern. The article focuses on the results from Irish and UK respondents. However, similar results were obtained across the board. In summary:

1. 86% of respondents keep pharmaceuticals other than those they are currently using in their households.

2. Most respondents (65%) dispose of pharmaceuticals by disposing of them with the solid waste stream.

3. However, most perceive return of unwanted/unused pharmaceuticals to pharmacies to be the best way for disposal.

4. 62% of respondents were unaware of the possibility to return pharmaceuticals to pharmacies.

5. The proportion of respondents that have ever received advice on correct disposal of unwanted pharmaceuticals is extremely limited (13%). The exact proportion depends upon the country e.g. 21% in the UK, 7% in Malta, 19% in Ireland, 30% in other European countries, 9% in other countries

6. Only 40% of respondents were aware that pharmaceuticals have been found in surface waters.

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Contact Information

The Questor Centre
David Keir Building
Stranmillis Road
Belfast BT9 5AG

Tel +4428 9097 5577
Fax +4428 9066 1462


For google map link click here

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