What is it?
Anaerobic digestion harnesses the natural process of organic materials (such as agricultural manure, slurry, food waste, miscanthus or maize crops) being broken down by bacteria.
How does it work?
Organic matter is broken down by bacteria in the absence of oxygen in a closed vessel. This process produces biogas that can be used to generate both heat and power.
The biogas can be refined further with carbon dioxide and other impurities being taken out to produce biomethane which can be used to fuel transport, or injected into the natural gas grid network.
The residue from the process is known as digestate and can be used as a liquid fertiliser, or separated into a fibre and sold for soil conditioning, and the liquor can be applied to farmland as a low grade fertiliser.
Is it suitable?
Anaerobic Digestion can be carried out in a small scale system, for example located on a farm and operated by farmers, or serve businesses (or clusters of businesses) that have access to a large amount of food waste.
Alternatively it can be carried out in large centralised systems, for example to treat municipal food waste being diverted from landfill by local authorities.
If the biodegradable material fed into an anaerobic digester is a waste (manure, slurry, food waste), the resultant digestate (residue) is subject to waste regulation controls.
What are the benefits?
- Anaerobic digestion is a well proven renewable energy and waste management technology.
- It provides an environmentally safe waste management/ disposal method and generates clean power.
- It reduces the amount of greenhouse gas emissions by capturing methane from decomposing organic materials.
- An additional income can be gained from the sale of the digestate.
- Systems installed by an accredited contractor (MCS approved) can earn you money from the Government’s Feed in Tariff Scheme (FITs).
On-Farm AD Fund
The On-Farm Anaerobic Digestion (AD) Fund has been developed to help farmers in England get financial support to build small-scale AD plants on their farms. Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) are delivering the fund on behalf of the Government.
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