Cafe Scientifique

Add to your watch list

From the archive

This event last happened on 4 March 2019

A Graphic Introduction to Bioenergy

Monday 4 March

We use energy all the time in our daily lives, which mainly comes from burning fossil fuels, like coal, oil and gas. Our carbon cycle is therefore all one-way, as we are releasing carbon that has been stored for millions of years and not taking back in. The threat of climate change means we need to do something about this – in 2015, 195 nations came together in Paris to commit to stopping global temperatures from rising more than 2°C. To achieve this, we will need to limit fossil fuel use and rely on other forms of energy that are considered low-carbon – nuclear, renewables like wind, solar, hydro, tidal, wave and geothermal, and of course, BIOENERGY!

Bioenergy is energy made available from biomass (plants) which can be used for power, heat, transport fuels, bio-products, chemicals, land remediation, etc. This Café Scientifique talk aims to outline some of the key issues with using bioenergy and the research that is being undertaken across the UK and beyond to address these. It will then focus briefly on one area of my research – investigating bioenergy combined with carbon capture – and will finish up with a ‘thought experiment’, looking at a range of potential bioenergy futures.

So if you want to know more about what bioenergy is, if we should use it and what the problems and solutions are, come along and join Cartoon Karen as she gives you a graphic introduction to bioenergy – with a free bioenergy comic for all!


Dr Karen N Finney is a research fellow at the University of Sheffield, working within the Department of Mechanical Engineering in the Energy 2050 group. She graduated from the University of Southampton with a BSc in Geography, before defecting to engineering – achieving a distinction for her MSc (Eng.) and then a PhD, both in energy and environmental engineering from the University of Sheffield. She has since worked as a researcher at the Universities of Sheffield and Leeds, investigating various aspects of low-carbon and sustainable energy generation. In addition to researching bioenergy, her work at the PACT National Research Facilities encompasses conventional power (including gas turbines and pulverised coal), carbon capture and emissions monitoring. She was awarded the 2017 University of Sheffield Engineering Researcher of the Year. She is a Chartered Engineer, a member of the Energy Institute and sits on the committee of the IChemE Clean Energy Special Interest Group. She has recently completed two research sabbaticals, seconded to both Alstom Power Ltd. and GE Power.

Citation: EPSRC Supergen Bioenergy Hub (2017) Bioenergy: A Graphic Introduction, Available online:


We use cookies to help us provide you with a better service, but do not track anything that can be used to personally identify you.

If you prefer us not to set these cookies, please visit our Cookie Settings page or continue browsing our site to accept them.