LIAT ‘Reverse Coal’ Programme Receives UK Government Recognition as Cleaner Fuel Source

A natural alternative to the negative impact of carbon on the environment has received recognition in a Government environmental paper.

A project named ‘Reverse Coal’ from a team of academics, farmers and engineers, including a team from the Lincoln Institute of Agri-Technology (LIAT) and the School of Engineering at the University of Lincoln, UK, paving the way for climate-resilient agriculture.

Reverse Coal has been mentioned as a positive case study in the Government’s Environmental Improvement Plan 2023 and highlighted as an example of how peatlands can be more responsibly managed. 

The scheme is taking place at Lapwing Estate, a 5,000 acre estate near Doncaster known for being an innovative leader in ‘rethinking peatlands’.

Peatlands are one of the most fertile lands in the UK for food growth, but the process emits excessive CO2. The alternative is Reverse Coal, which shifts to indoor farming using a sustainable biomass fuel source as its power. 

The energy comes from growing biomass feed stock, which is then subjected to a thermochemical treatment called pyrolysis to create a source of energy. The pyrolysis will also produce biochar which will then be stored in a unique storage facility demonstrating that CO2 can be permanently captured.

Leading the team from The University of Lincoln are Professor Simon Pearson, Director of LIAT, and Dr Amir Badiee, Senior Lecturer in the School of Engineering at The University of Lincoln.

Dr Amir Badiee, has been involved in the research for the project.

He said:

“Fossil fuels have been used for so long in food production that their negative impact can not be understated, but this project proves that there is a better way.

“Reverse Coal sequesters carbon and produces food with positive environmental impact. This solves the inherent dilemma of bioenergy crops: the loss of land from food production.

“It’s fantastic to see this being highlighted in the Government’s environmental strategy. It really is a great example of how rethinking the use of current resources can have such a positive impact.”

James Brown, CEO of Lapwing Farms said:

“Lapwing have been working with Prof Simon Pearson & Dr Amir Badiee for over five years now, helping to shape and direct my vision for a better food system.  

“The global food system is responsible not only for 30% of CO2 emissions but also 60% of nature loss and we need radical transformation.  

“Any change must be grounded in practical science to ensure real sustainable long term improvement delivering nutritious food as part of a holistic system and we are grateful for the support of the University of Lincoln in providing this.”

The Reverse Coal Project has now been selected for both Phase One and Phase Two of the Government’s Greenhouse Gas Removal Programme, which will provide funding for the scheme.