Event Speakers

ADBA R&I Forum 2016 - Event Speakers 


Day One 

Charlotte Morton

Chief Executive, Anaerobic Digestion & Bioresources Association (ADBA)

A law graduate from LSE, Charlotte practised commercial, shipping and aircraft finance law for 10 years before studying for her MBA at London Business School. She then set up WhizzGo, which became the UK's largest pay by the hour car club business. Asked by the founder chairman to help set up the business side of ADBA in 2009, she saw the potential of an industry which can deliver huge value to the UK, and has been working hard to ensure ADBA supports the industry ever since. She is also on the board of Green Gas Trading Limited, which runs the Biomethane Certification Scheme.

Introduction: World class researchers, building a world class industry


Emeritus Professor Keith Barnham

Distinguished Research Fellow, Faculty of Natural Sciences, Imperial College London

Keith Barnham started his research career in particle physics at the University of Birmingham, CERN and the University of California, Berkeley. Mid-career, at Imperial College London, he switched to researching solar power after spending a year at Philips Research Laboratories in Redhill. His Quantum Photovoltaic group at Imperial developed a third generation solar cell with three times the efficiency of today’s rooftop panels. He is author of The Burning Answer: a User’s Guide to the Solar Revolution, (Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 2014).

Introduction: “The Key Role of Anaerobic Digestion in an All-Renewable Electricity Supply”


Dr David Vaughan

Senior Technologist, Biorenewables Development Centre (BDC)

David Vaughan has been working for the Biorenewables Development Centre (BDC) since its launch in 2012 and has been instrumental in setting up and expanding the BDC’s anaerobic digestion (AD) facility. David has worked for the University of York for over 20 years in numerous research areas including microbiology, molecular biology, biomass analysis and biofuel production. This background brings a multidisciplinary approach to AD research, development and demonstration within the BDC.

On a day-to-day basis, David interacts closely with clients to ensure the research conducted at the BDC is targeted to industry needs.

Introduction: The priorities for future research


Professor Charles Banks

Head of Water & Environmental Engineering, University of Southampton

Professional interests include: Innovative technology for environmental protection and resource management; Renewable energy from biomass, wastes and wastewater; and Waste management and resource recovery. 

Prof Banks is head of the Bioenergy and Biomass Resources Research Group which is internationally recognised for its work on anaerobic digestion. He has led and participated in a number of EU projects including: CROPGEN; VALORGAS, All-Gas and AmbiGAS aimed at second generation biofuel production.  He is currently project coordinator for the UK Research Council’s Network in Anaerobic Digestion (ADnet) as well as running nationally support research projects in his area of specialist interest. 

Chair - Session 1: Funding the research of the future: from innovation to commercialisation


Ian Holmes - H2020 National Contact Point

Food Security, Sustainable Agriculture and Forestry, Marine and Maritime and the Bioeconomy – H2020 National Contact Point

Ian Holmes is part of the Innovate UK, NCP Team, supporting the “Societal Challenge Two” area of Horizon 2020. He has been involved with innovation support and knowledge transfer for over a decade. Ian has advised applicants and evaluated proposals for various funding bodies. 

Ian began his career as a Marine Engineer in the Royal Navy before studying Engineering & Environmental Studies in the UK and Finland. He has delivered International Technology Transfer, regional support to SMEs for accessing European Funding and innovation support and training.

Ian was part of the Resource Efficiency KTN team and has also managed and written a number of bids for UK funding as well as FP7 and Life+ applications. He evaluated bids for UK Agencies and the European Commission Eco-Innovation Programme. In his spare time he runs through mud and practices martial arts.

Session 1: Bio-based Industries (BBI) Joint Undertaking (JU) Funding


Dr Colin Miles

Head of Strategy - Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy, BBSRC  

Session 1: Past investment and future funding opportunities


Chair: Chair to be confirmed

Session 2: Chair - Process improvement: can research increase biogas yields by 30%?


Tony Amato

R&D and Technology Manager, Doosan Enpure

He has for nearly 40 years been involved as a process engineer and Chartered Engineer in the design and operation of a wide range of municipal and industrial water and wastewater treatment plants around the world. During this time this has included developing new processes and techniques with various industrialist and academic institutions to improve operational efficiencies of such plants. A number of papers have been published and Patents granted based on this work. Latterly as head of R&D at Doosan Enpure Ltd, he has continued developing processes and applications such as today the use of an ultrasound technology treating a wide range of organic sludges

Session 2: How will ultrasound increase methane production?


Dr Sri Suhartini

Research Assistant, Birmingham City University

I am currently working as Research Assistant at the centre of Resilient Environments in Birmingham City University (BCU). I received my MS from the University of Queensland-Australia, and PhD from the University of Southampton (UoS)-UK in anaerobic digestion of sugar beet pulp combined with the application of AD modelling developed by UoS.  I joined BCU in 2014, and had experience in research includes data collection of biomass feedstock characteristics and investigation of methane potential from pyrolysis water (BioenNW, INTERREG IVB), sonication pre-treatment with anaerobic digestion (Doosan Enpure Ltd.), algal biomass and coagulation/flocculation treatment. I have published few publications: journal and conference proceeding. 

Session 2: How will ultrasound increase methane production?


Dr James Chong

Senior Lecture - Department of Biology, University of York

James completed a degree in Molecular Biology at the University of Manchester, followed by a PhD in protein biochemistry at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund (now Cancer Research UK). He held EMBO and HFSP post-doctoral fellowships at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York where he gained experience of yeast biochemistry and genetics. He returned to the UK in 2000, where he established his own research group at the University of Bath supported by a BBSRC David Phillips Fellowship. James moved to the University of York in 2004 and has established comprehensive facilities for the growth and genetic manipulation of strict anaerobes, specialising in methanogenic archaea. Most recently he has collaborated with the Biorenewables Development Centre in York to establish pilot-scale anaerobic digestion facilities. His group are developing and applying molecular techniques to better understand the dynamics of AD microbial communities.  

Session 2: Can microbial dynamics increase methane production by 30%?


Mike Mason

Chairman, Tropical Power

Mike is an engineer who has worked in mining, software, and healthcare.  He started the world's first carbon trading business which he sold to JP Morgan in 2008.  Most recently he was Energy Advisor to the President of the Maldives where he was responsible for making the country the world's first zero carbon country. Unfortunately an exciting start was brought to an end by a coup d'état.   Since then Mike has been working at the University of Oxford on Advanced Anaerobic Digestion - aiming to match the hydrolytic efficiency of the best ruminants.  These are capable of hydrolysis up to 30 times faster than a typical AD plant.

Session 2: Will tank digestion ever beat cow digestion?


Professor Tom Curtis

School of Civil Engineering and Geosciences - Environmental Engineering, Newcastle University

I decided to become a scientist as a teenager after reading Bernard Dixon’s a popular science book showing microbes as a force for good in the world.  An undistinguished graduate of the BSc in microbiology at Leeds he joined the Public Health Engineering research team lead by Duncan Mara in the same university. There I learnt that many Environmental Engineers sought to put Dixon’s words into action. Working primarily in Northeast Brazil on low cost wastewater treatment systems I gained an MEng and PhD in Public Health Engineering, with a brief interlude in Jordan starting up and managing Aqaba water reclamation plant. Eschewing a post doc (and the dole) for a period working on public health policy for the UK government. I was fortunate to become a lecturer (in 1994) and latterly Professor of Environmental Engineering in Newcastle University. My core interest is now the engineering of real open microbial systems and my abiding belief is that these systems obey a suite of fundamental and universal rules. Furthermore, we will only unlock the power of engineered systems in particular, and microbial systems in general, when we grasp those rules. I am particularly interested  in the engineering of the  diversity and community assembly of microbial communities. 

Session 2: Is low temperature AD effective?


Dave Auty

Bioenergy Engineering Manager, Capita-PROjEN

First proper job was researching AD for treatment of textile waste, then moved to WRc and delivered award winning research into AD and pasteurisation of sewage sludge.  Then spent 11 fun-filled years at Yorkshire Water troubleshooting and designing AD plants before joining Entec and delivering a wide range of engineering projects.  Recently joined PROjEN, the leading consultancy and engineering providers in the AD industry.

Session 2: Case Study - Maintaining the optimum condition of a digester


Elaine Calvert

Commercial Lead - Project CLoCC, National Grid

Session 3: Connecting to the grid - next steps for unconventional gas - Can connections to the NTS high pressure gas grid provide a viable alternative?


Stefano Giacalone

Research Engineer - Sludge & Energy Innovation, Thames Water Utilities

Stefano Giacalone, obtained a master in mechanical engineering at the University of Glasgow in 2013. After a placement in Spain for Freixenet, the world largest producer of wine, where he worked on feasibility assessment for sustainable thermal energy solutions, he started an engineering doctorate (EngD) on optimisation of anaerobic digestion. The STREAM EngD is sponsored by Thames Water, Anglian Water, Severn Trent Water and EPSRC, and hosted by Imperial College London. The work aims at determining the impact of easily measurable operational parameters on efficiency of the AD process, in order to maximise tecno-economic benefits and assets use.

Session 4: Feature case study - next steps for sewage sludge research - “Optimising the anaerobic digestion process through improved understanding of fundamental operational parameters”


Day Two

Chair: Chair to be confirmed

Session 1: Chair - Session 1: From 8 TWh to 80 TWh - commercialising new feedstocks for AD 


Sally Mills

Bioenergy Project Manager, RSPB

Sally has worked for the RSPB since 1989 and is currently their Reserves Bioenergy Project Manager. Up until November 2012, when she took on her current role, she worked for the reserves department. This enabled her to work on and manage a number of the reserves, including leading on the creation of the very successful wetland reserve in the Somerset Levels and Moors.

She has recently been responsible for running the Wetland Biomass to Bioenergy Project with the Department of Energy and Climate Change, through which the RSPB looked at the conversion of biomass resulting from habitat management works into energy. This project involved working with contractors in the development of new innovative end-to-end conversion systems and liaising with DECC over project delivery and carbon efficiencies.

In conjunction with the DECC work, Sally ran a DEFRA Pilot Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) Project, which looked at the delivery of the biomass to bioenergy approach as a PES scheme. This work involved working with the RSPB’s economists to understand markets and business models, liaising with local and national stakeholders, and the development of a Conservation Biomass Calculator to assist land managers to realise the potential of their land management operations.

On the conclusion of both projects, the focus of Sally’s work now is to maximise the benefit of the experience and knowledge gained in the future delivery of land management and nature conservation, whilst reducing reliance on fossil fuels and opening up opportunities for income generation.

Session 1: Wetland biomass for AD? From DECC funding to commercial reality


Michelle Morrison

Principal AD Scientist & Group Leader, The Centre for Process Innovation (CPI)

Michelle has a background in biogeochemistry, in particular the cycling of Fe, S and C in passive minewater treatment systems. She has transferred this knowledge to the application of anaerobic digestion and now leads CPI’s National Centre for Anaerobic Digestion, which forms part of CPI’s Biotechnology & Biorefinery Platform. The AD team have worked on a broad range of AD related projects, including testing feedstocks, novel digester designs, pre-treatment technologies and novel monitoring and software applications. The Centre is open access, independent, technology agnostic and is one of the government-endorsed national Catapult Centres (for High Value Manufacturing).

Session1: Seaweed for AD? Opportunities and challenges


John Scott Kerr

Director of Business Development, Future Biogas

After seven years service as an Infantry Officer in various theatres including Iraq and Kosovo, he did an MBA at Imperial College and then moved out to Ukraine to farm.  He was commercial manager for an operation farming circa 30,000 hectares of wheat and rape per annum, and then developed biogas/fuel projects with McDonalds and a number of large scale chicken and pig producers.  He returned to the UK in 2011 working in the agribusiness team at Bidwells specialising in Bioenergy.  John joined Future Biogas Ltd in 2014 to develop their pipeline and develop opportunities for the existing portfolio.  John is also involved in the launch of the Economizer, a new technology that processes waste straw into a fully digestible material that could dramatically change the way we build biogas plants.  Future Biogas signed a UK distribution agreement for the technology in the UK on the 11th March.

Session 1: Straw for AD? A pre-treatment technique


Ryland Cairns

Environment Manager, Muntons

Ryland Cairns is the Environment Manager for Muntons where he is responsible for the operation of their new £5.4M UASB anaerobic digester. He strongly values knowledge and has gained multiple post-graduate qualifications in climate change (MSc); water/wastewater treatment (MTech) and facilities management (PgCert). He is currently undertaking a MBA at Sunderland University where he is writing his thesis on sustainable leadership. Ryland has 9 years experience in water and wastewaster treatment and has managed the Old Ford Water Recycling Plant (Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park) for Thames Water and prior to that worked for Interserve Defence where he was responsible for all MoD water and wastewater operations in the South Atlantic. Ryland has a strong interest in research and has worked in R&D both in industry (Severn Trent Water) and academia (Cranfield University). His research in to flocculation has won awards from The Worshipful Company of Engineers, IWA and CIWEM

Session 2: The AD Operator View: what should the AD industry research priorities be? - Case study: Developing a local circular economy 


Alice Bayfield

Project Coordinator, QUBE Renewables

Alice joined QUBE Renewables as a graduate with a background in geography and environmental management. In her role as Project Coordinator, she manages initial enquiries and feasibility of new projects, existing installs and marketing and social media. Alongside Mark Clayton and the rest of the team, QUBE have designed, manufactured and successfully deployed a range of microscale anaerobic digestion biogas systems including the bioQUBE, quickQUBE, powerQUBE and lagoonQUBE, operating from 3 to 30kW electrical.

Session 2: Case study: commercialising small scale AD technology 


Chair: Ollie Moore

Session 3: Chair - AD beyond energy generation: can your AD plant produce £250k per year of digestate? - Project results: DC-Agri and the benefits of AD as a renewable fertiliser


William McManus

Organics Sector Specialist, WRAP

Will works on a range of projects looking at resource efficiency in agriculture.  This includes the DC-Agri project, which provides the robust scientific evidence base helping farmers to make the most of digestate, and managing farmer training programmes. Separately, Will is also developing WRAP’s research into pre-farm gate food waste.

Session 3: Project results: DC-Agri and the benefits of AD as a renewable fertiliser


Dr David Tompkins

Bioresources Development Manager, Aqua Enviro  

David is an environmental scientist with a background in digestate and compost market development, food safety, soil science and horticulture.  He currently leads a small team at Aqua Enviro focused on biowaste/bioresource process optimization and output valorization with materials ranging from livestock slurry to compost, digestate and biomass ashes, whether derived from source-segregated or mixed inputs.  David’s current portfolio of projects includes: developing guidance for digestate and compost use; assessing the suitability of biodiesel processing residues for biotreatment; assessing the safety of recycled materials in the food chain; process optimization and digestate quality support for merchant AD facilities.        

Session 3: Research and innovation in AD: can we be more strategic?

Session 4: Processing digestate - how can the industry reduce costs and increase upgrading?     


Dr Ruben Sakrabani

Senior Lecturer - Cranfield Soil and Agrifood Institute, Cranfield University

Dr Sakrabani has more than 14 years of experience in determining nutrient dynamics in soils associated with application of organic amendments such as compost, manure, slurry, sewage sludge, biochar and digestates. His work explores the resource efficiency and reliability of organic amendments as alternative sources of fertilisers to reduce demand on inorganic fertilisers. His work explores the use of new approaches where prediction of nutrient release from organic amendments can be exploited in order to maximise resource efficiency and promote sustainable intensification of agriculture. As a chemist his expertise also lies in the fate and transport of heavy metals and micropollutants that may be present in organic amendments when applied to soils and how this can influence efficacy of soil microbes to mineralise nutrients that are locked up. He has an interest in extending his research interest to developing countries and has been engaging with researchers in Malawi, Pakistan, Madagascar, South India and Malaysia. He has supervised until completion 9 PhD students and currently supervising 3. He has published in over 40 peer reviewed journals and is currently the Associate Editor of Soil Use and Management.

Session 3: Utilisation of new tools to target phosphate application to meet crop demand