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Printer Friendly VersionSelected Information - Proposed Research

CP491  Co-Digestion - A Full Scale Practical Test Waste
Project Appreciation and Objectives

The UK government is driving renewable energy generation to meet 2020 targets. It is set to remove regulatory and fiscal barriers to promote the uptake of AD to gain value from the 100 million tonnes of 'other' organic wastes. The wastewater utilities are well placed to fill the infrastructure deficit needed to treat this waste. But, are the risks to current appointed business activities outweighed by the potential benefits? Co-digestion could reduce overall costs for sewage sludge treatment and add revenue from biogas production. However: will it work at full scale? what additional infrastructure is needed? what are the real energy returns? is there a land-bank for the disposal of residual wastes? and what materials are suited to co-digestion? This project will facilitate full-scale trials to:

  • produce extensive baseline data on process operation and waste output characteristics;
  • provide evidence to support robust decision making by the wastewater utilities and regulators;
  • identify materials that are suited to co-digestion.

Business Benefits to Clients

  • Reduced business risks through evidence based decisions on investment in non-core business but which in the near future would have the support of the financial and environmental regulators.
  • Successful integration of other wastes to support reductions in carbon footprint and increased revenue.

Work Programme

Phase 1 - Establish detailed scope and set up logistics

  1. Prepare a detailed scope, based on a pre-project meeting attended by interested parties - Defra, WRAP and the Environment Agency have agreed to attend the meeting and attendance by OFWAT would be requested.
  2. Agree the logistics for delivery of the trial. Interested parties will provide and operate digesters over 12 months, to treat locally sourced wastes, and monitor input feedstock (basic composition) and the digesters' performance. WRc will undertake monitoring of changes in digestate quality and characteristics and changes associated with input feedstock.
  3. WRc will confirm suitable sites, identify suitable waste input, a robust operational matrix and monitoring programme and carry-out discussions with regulators to gain acceptance of the work programme, gain agreement to operate the trial(s) and exemptions to cover disposal of digestate.

Phase 2 - Operation and reporting

  1. Operation and monitoring of the digesters over 12 months
  2. WRc will collate all trial data and provide an independent evaluation of the data and report on the projects outcomes.

Project Output and Implementation

  • A detailed assessment of the opportunity presented by AD of non-sewage sludge wastes, with supporting evidence on the performance of full scale co-digestion, operational costs and revenue streams, and implications for application of the digestate to land. This will enable decisions to be

    made by commercial managers and will provide robust advice to the operators and designers of co-digestion schemes.

Related WRc Work

  • Waste characterisation and treatability studies of organic wastes using AD.
  • Work for the regulators on the application of wastes to land.
  • Support to government in waste policy development.

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

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