March 2022

An international consortium, the Centre for Biomass Energy Research and Education, has been established at the University of Silesia in Poland, and IGWS scientists Agnieszka Drobniak and Maria Mastalerz are the founding members.

Drobniak and Mastalerz have been involved in a cooperative biomass energy project with researchers from the University of Silesia since 2019. “As biomass fuels have experienced rapid growth, a better understanding of fuel quality, human health, and environmental implications arising from their combustion is an urgent and very timely research direction,” Drobniak said.

CBERE logo

The center’s goal is to conduct and promote dynamic and interdisciplinary biomass energy research by enhancing collaboration between scientists and industry. Through education, the center also aims to expand public awareness about biomass energy to promote its use in a safe and environmentally responsible way.

The center has already started collaboration with the United States Geological Survey, Aarthus University in Denmark, the University of Wroclaw in Poland, the University of Leeds in the UK, the University of Kentucky, Indiana University, the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, the North American Pellet Fuels Institute, and pellet industry representatives in Poland.

In mid-March, Drobniak and Mastalerz will travel to Jacksonville, Florida, to attend the 15th Annual Biomass Conference and Expo. This is the largest biomass event in North America which brings together scientists and industry professionals from all sectors of the world’s interconnected biomass utilization industries.

Biomass research expands overseas

May 2022

Could grass clippings be turned into fuel?

That’s a question being explored at the Centre for Biomass Energy Research and Education (CBERE), a research center at the University of Silesia in Poland which has ties to Indiana University through IGWS research scientists Maria Mastalerz and Agnieszka Drobniak.

The center secured a project contract in Poland last month to research converting grass into renewable pellet fuel. The City of Jaworzno will be collaborating with scientists from CBERE to find a possible use for the excess of mowed grass that literally floods the city in summer. “Pawel Silbert, the mayor of the city, makes no secret that the success of this project would be a real breakthrough in waste management,” the CBERE reported on its Facebook page.

Mastalerz and Drobniak are two of the six members of the CBERE team. The other four are scientists based at the University of Silesia in Katowice, where the center is headquartered.

In recent months, members of the team have published research into the quality of pellet fuels available on the market and the type of emissions they generate during their combustion and gasification. The researchers have analyzed hundreds of types of charcoal and wood pellet fuels collected from nine different countries. Microscopic study revealed the presence of several types of contaminants including plastic, tire rubber, paint, glues, and resins, which may have been inadvertently or purposely added. “Because the properties of raw fuels affect the characteristics of emissions, and therefore human health and our environment, the assessment of solid biomass fuels should be of critical importance,” CBERE’s website reads.