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Printer Friendly VersionSelected Information - Proposed Research

CP439  Development of a rapid test for Anaerobic Digestion Resource Management
Project Appreciation and Objectives

As the UK endeavours to meet its obligations for renewable sources of energy, reduction of greenhouse gases and meet landfill diversion targets, anaerobic digestion is being increasingly favoured as a mechanism for achieving these goals. The types of organic wastes being treated using AD have changed from sewage biosolids to encompass co-digestion of a wide range of biowastes at wastewater treatment works and segregated digestion of biowastes by both Water Companies and the Waste Management Industry. There is a huge potential for growth in the use of AD to produce renewable energy. New measures such as the Environmental Transformation Fund and the anaerobic digestate quality protocol (PAS 110) are removing barriers which currently serve to restrict infrastructure development and will enhance the value of these materials as products.

To effectively support the growth and development of AD, there is a need for a deeper understanding of the waste characteristics of different feedstocks, and how these control waste digestability and the potential for biogas production. Historically a range of anaerobic tests have been used to provide information on the quality and quantity of biogas that might be produced from a waste, as well as estimating timescales for gas production. A common problem is the period of time between sample collection and the production of test results which can be up to 100 days.

This project will develop and validate a suitable rapid biological or chemical test that can predict waste biodegradability of any waste feedstock

Benefits to Clients

  • Quality check that in-coming feedstock characteristics comply with documentation.
  • Maximise productivity and increase digester throughput by assessment of new feedstock
  • Minimise digester downtime due to poor or inappropriate feedstock.
  • Minimise storage requirements and odour issues.

Work Programme

  1. Review existing data relating to anaerobic biodegradability tests.
  2. Identify the benefits of surrogate chemical tests.
  3. Identify and asses rapid biological test.
  4. Validate selected test methods.

Project Output

A report containing:

  • A waste characterisation database, including rate equations for different feedstock.
  • A description of the rapid biological test
  • A description of a rapid chemical test
  • An optimised rapid AD test protocol and baseline reference data

Related WRc Work

  • Use of acclimatised digestion tests to evaluate the biogas production potential of pre-sorted or pre-treated MBT residues, Shanks, 2010.
  • Characterisation of residues from industrial processes and waste treatment

    Defra, 2005 - 2009.

  • PAS110 Digestate stability method validation. WRAP, 2009.

WRc's Portfolio Programme
Summary of the £1.5 million per annum research programme

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