NUI Galway and TCD Researchers Ask Burning Questions on the Future of Fuels in Ireland

Jul 27 2018 Posted: 15:39 IST

Researchers from NUI Galway and Trinity College Dublin will host this year’s largest and most important scientific gathering on alternative fuels and fuel efficiency, when the 37th International Symposium on Combustion comes to Dublin from 30 July to 3 August. This is the first time the biennial Symposium has been held in Ireland and is a major coup for the small but growing fuels research community in Ireland. Over 1,800 delegates from across the globe will attend the week’s technical presentations in the Convention Centre Dublin.

Over 90% of the energy used in Ireland is delivered by burning fuels, the vast majority of which is imported. This energy is needed for everything from lighting and heating our homes and preparing our meals, to powering our industries and fuelling our planes, trains and automobiles. The immediate challenges posed by climate change, declining air quality, increasing energy bills, and energy supply security, especially with Brexit around the corner, means that cleaner, cheaper, more reliable forms of energy are urgently needed.

The International Symposium on Combustion will highlight recent advances in:

  • The development and testing of renewable fuels including solid biomass, biomethane, liquid biofuels and hydrogen.
  • The use of waste products like agri-forestry wastes, sludge’s and municipal waste as fuels.
  • Efforts to reduce harmful emissions of carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides and particulate matter.
  • Increases in engine efficiency through a better understanding of how existing and new fuels burn and how engines can be redesigned around this new knowledge. It will also deal with the study of how fires spread, what can be done to better predict this, and how emergency planning and evacuations can be improved. This has been thrown into tragic light last year in Grenfell Tower and this week in Greece.

The importance of combustion research was recently highlighted by the launch of the €4.4 million Sustainable Energy and Fuel Efficiency (SEFE) Spoke at the Research Centre for Marine and Renewable Energy. With financial backing from Science Foundation Ireland and national and international industry, SEFE researchers at NUI Galway, TCD, UCC, UL and Teagasc will develop the next generation of renewable fuels and cleaner engines. The hosting of the Symposium in Ireland is particularly timely given the recent announcement from the Climate Change Advisory Council that the country is “completely off course” to achieve its 2020 and 2030 climate targets. This event will serve as a rallying call to the energy research and policymaking communities that unless Ireland takes immediate action on the development alternative fuels, the country is in line for hundreds of millions of euros worth of annual fines from the EU.

Chairperson of the Local Host Team, NUI Galway Emeritus Professor John Simmie, said: “Given society’s heavy reliance on fuels, combustion is more relevant now than ever. While the recent popularity of electric vehicles is to be welcomed, technological limitations and high costs mean that all energy forecasts show significant combustible fuel use until well into the second half of the 21st century, especially for heavy, long-distance transportation.”

Head of Strategy at Science Foundation Ireland, Dr Peter Clifford, highlighted the scientific excellence of the event, saying: “The International Symposium on Combustion is the premier gathering of the fuels and combustion research community. Its presence here underscores the efforts and growing reputation of the combustion research community in Ireland.”

The Symposium is supported financially by Science Foundation Ireland through the Exceptional Conference Award, Fáilte Ireland, and a wide array of Irish and international industry sponsors. The Local Host Team is Emeritus Professor John Simmie and Dr Rory Monaghan from the College of Engineering and Informatics, NUI Galway, and Dr Stephen Dooley of TCD.

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