Who are you?
Alan Wood runs a small consultancy concentrating on bioenergy technology solutions in the UK. He has a particular focus on biomass pyrolysis, heat recovery and thermomechanical power, providing both renewable energy and bio fertilisers (biochar).
Alan decided to join the Pioneers programme as he felt it gave him the opportunity to work closely with academics in the UK on his domestic placement, and share his ideas in regard to circular economy and zero carbon futures with an international group.
What did you do?
Alan worked at two placements. In the UK he worked at the School of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Wolverhampton. He researched the origins and future potential of the Stirling Engine concept, along with materials and modern production processes. This particularly focussed on the conversion of recovered heat to zero carbon mechanical energy.
His international placement was at the Provincia di Bologna Council in Italy where he developed options for a potential cycle route from the city centre to the Bologna Guglielmo Marconi Airport. This was important as the municipality needed to reduce CO2 emissions from transport and was considering several different options, including new pedestrian and cycle routes. There were 2,000 employees working at the airport and the ability to reduce private transport between the city and the airport could bring significant air quality and health benefits.
At my first placement I researched an engine type invented 200 years ago that could be used as a renewable solution today.
It was fascinating working with so many diverse people from around Europe.
What did you learn?
Alan learnt about the need to take a systemic analysis of difficult problems while at Bologna, as there were a number of conflicting challenges and varying levels of awareness of the benefits of cycle routes. Developing the consultation activities gave Alan improved questioning and research skills, which have been particularly useful when developing low carbon products and services. It gave him the ability and confidence to disseminate new ideas to people.
Alan created a large network of like-minded people during both placements and learnt the value of accessing diverse skills and knowledge when developing new and innovative ideas.
What happens next?
Alan’s learning at the Pioneers workshops and experience during the placements have helped him develop a clear understanding of, and passion for, the concept of circular and zero carbon economy. He used these skills after the Pioneers programme to increase his work with networking organisations, such as Edulink Europe.
Due to his increased knowledge of innovative solutions, he worked with several partners to secure innovation funding. One of these partners, the University of Birmingham received innovation funding to develop a Stirling Engine solution from a modified compressor pump. Alan is working to secure Horizon 2020 funding for other innovation activities in the UK and is currently involved in submissions to tackle sustainable agriculture and circular economy activities.