Research Areas

Research Areas








Research Areas

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Analysis of Feedstocks and Process Outputs

There are excellent facilities at the University of Limerick that facilitate our analytical work. Analytical protocols being conducted at Carbolea include: lignocellulosic components of potential biorefining materials; soil organic matter composition; biochar properties; and the products of conversion and catalytic processes.




Bio-Oil is being produced via fast and slow pyrolysis from various feedstocks, including municipal and agricultural wastes and energy crops such as Miscanthus. These bio-oils are then characterised via a variety of analytical methods. Various routes for upgrading the quality of these bio-oils are also being investigated.




Carbolea researchers recognise the potential of bioochar as both a plant growth promoter and as a means of sequestering atmospheric carbon. How the biochar functions in these roles will depend on the production mechanisms employed and the particular ultrastructure that results. These are some of the biochar topics considered.



Biorefining and Second Generation Biofuels

Carbolea researchers have been active for some time in the field of biomass conversion to high-value end products and fuels (biorefining). Work here covers the evaluation and development of biorefining feedstocks and technologies



Catalysis and Downstream Processing

Carbolea Researchers are looking at the most effective catalysts to upgrade bio-oils and to convert the products from biorefining technologies to higher value chemicals and fuels



Effective Utilisation of Wastes

We recognise that waste materials can have real value, particularly in biorefining and pyrolysis schemes. Carbolea researchers are looking to analyse wastes and evaluate their value in such processes and also develop more effective methods for their utilisation.




Gasification involves the thermal degradation of biomass. It differs from pyrolysis in that some oxygen is present during the process. The main product is a syngas that can be used for energy or for the production of biofuels and platform chemicals via catalytic upgrading.




Miscanthus is a herbaceous energy crop that can be highly productive in Ireland. It has been studied and processed in many of the projects undertaken at Carbolea.



Near Infrared Spectroscopy

Near infrared spectroscopy is an important part of our analytical regime. It offers the potential for the rapid analysis of biomass feedstocks and the products of biomass conversion without the need for timely and costly wet chemical analytical techniques.




Pyrolysis is the thermal degradation of biomass in the absence of oxygen and allows for the production of bio-oil. biochar, and biogas.







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