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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/T005319/1
Title: PyroPower Africa
Principal Investigator: Tansey, Professor KJ
Other Investigators:
Maffei, Mr C
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Sch of Geog, Geol & the Environment
Organisation: University of Leicester
Scheme: Technology Programme
Starts: 01 June 2019 Ends: 31 August 2020 Value (£): 30,243
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Bioenergy Environmental Planning
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:  
Summary on Grant Application Form
The proposed project will address unreliable feedstock supplies in Sub Saharan Africa (SSA) by integrating a 100-kW steam turbine, with a pyrolysis vapour combustion system that avoids the fouling, fly ash and slagging typically associated with biomass-fired heating systems. A business case will be developed for a rural mobile payments system, giving farmers access to foreign remittances and enabling them to receive payment for their crop residues. Finally, the development of a detailed business case for a bioenergy power generation plant using rice husk produced by a rice milling technology will enable a detailed techno economic appraisal to be conducted to determine the replicability of the solution when integrated with rural food production systems.

Within the project, the research team at the University of Leicester will analyse satellite geocoded images and other cartographic data in a Geographic Information System (GIS) environment to identify optimised and smart siting for the proposed bioenergy installations. Satellite imagery will be used to identify existing productive users such as farms and small holders. Relevant to the success of the proposed project is the collection of information about the potential users of this off-grid electricity to ensure that they are able to pay for the power and also develop income and improve their livelihoods. Where there is a lack of basic infrastructure data on population, housing, land use, agricultural activity and extent of the existing grid, such information may be detected from the analysis of data coming from space.

This will be achieved through the identification from satellite data (or confirmation from space if this data already exists) of the community characteristics (housing, health centres, schools) that are potential users of the power generated from this piece of equipment and which are currently off-grid, and the mapping of the agricultural activity that is located around these villages and communities and develop yield estimates of the agricultural waste. This team will utilise the latest European Commission Copernicus satellites (Sentinel-1 and 2 - which is freely accessible to anyone) to identify agricultural cropping practices in and around farms, communities and trading centres. We will also scrape social media data that can give insights into population and community activities. As an outcome from previous projects, we already hold a wealth of open source (Open Street Map) data for Africa and this enables us to make decisions without relying on government held data sets which are often out of date.
Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Date Materialised
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Project URL:  
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Organisation Website: http://www.le.ac.uk