Improved Tubular Technology for Anaerobic Digestion

A proof of concept project at CPI: Novel tubular technology for improved small scale anaerobic digestion.

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Anaerobic digestion (AD) is a process in which microorganisms break down organic matter, in the absence of oxygen, into biogas (a mixture of carbon dioxide and methane) and digestate. AD is an effective way to treat organic wastes – such as food wastes, animal slurries and waste crop residues. The UK Coalition Agreement (2010) sets out a goal for a huge uptake in anaerobic digestion capacity.

CPI has received funding from the Technology Strategy Board to carry out investigations into a novel design of reactor.

The tubular design, based on a technology already commonly used in the chemistry industry (an Oscillatory Baffled Reactor (OBR)), is intended to replace traditional continuously stirred tank reactors (CSTRs). The OBR-based design could be shown to be more efficient, take up less space, and have a lower cost than CSTRs.

Using waste feedstocks from dairy farming and biofuel production, the major challenge in this project is to prove the efficacy of the OBR and to show that such a system can improve efficiencies with a reduced footprint and at a lower cost.

If successful, it is envisaged that this project could accelerate AD deployment by reducing start-up costs and also provide a modular option to increase capacity as and when needed.

Work has begun on commissioning the test-unit at CPI’s Anaerobic Digestion Development Centre and a full scientific appraisal of the new design, alongside a design and exploitation package will be delivered by the end of 2014.

Technology Strategy Board The Technology Strategy Board is the UK’s innovation agency. Its aim is to accelerate economic growth by stimulating and supporting business-led innovation. The Technology Strategy Board is providing 60% of the funding required for this project.