If you haven’t heard about anaerobic digestion yet, this blog post is the perfect place to start, and if you have, then you will know that technology is an ideal way for businesses to recycle their waste and cut their carbon footprint.
Anaerobic digestion is an innovative treatment and an ideal way for businesses in the agricultural and industrial sectors to recycle their waste and cut their carbon footprint. In the 2007 Waste Strategy for England, businesses were encouraged to consider anaerobic digestion (AD) as a way to assist in the meeting of UK energy targets.
This is however not just a fad, which will fade, in-fact it is the exact opposite. This technology has actually been around since the 1800s but, as concerns about the environment grew, so has the demand for ways to generate renewable energy and therefore, more and more businesses have been investing in AD over the past couple of years.
In a post written for Business Green they discuss everything you need to know about this clever technology – so read on if you still feel left in the dark!
First things first, what is anaerobic digestion? The term refers to a special treatment applies to organic materials; it can be applied to a range of natural biodegradable materials, including, food waste, slurry, sewage sludge and manure.
This material is also known as biomass, it is naturally broken down until it emits a new gas known as biogas. Biogas is a methane-rich gas, comprising of around 60% methane and 40% carbon dioxide – and this is the gas which can be used to generate electricity.
Now that we have established what is it we can continue to how it works, in short, the process takes place inside an anaerobic digester which is a large sealed tank, the biomass is heated to around the same temperature as blood, when it will react with the naturally occurring micro-organisms and bacteria.
It then goes through four stages, hydrolysis, acidogenesis, acetogenesus and methanogenesis. The end result is that the biogas is emitted and a material called digestate is left behind. Both the gas and the digestate material can be re-used, therefore making it a very effective way to recycle your waste materials.
The main benefits of AD are that it provides businesses with a way to turn the waste products they inevitably produce into new, clean energy. This energy can then be used on their own site, it can be utilised by any industry which produces food or sewage waste, including agricultural, sewage, food processing, and there are different sized systems available dependant on the amount of the waste produced.
The methane-rich biogas which is generated can be used as a source of renewable energy to power electricity generators and provide heat. It can even be altered further and upgraded to filter out the majority of the carbon dioxide – the end result is bio methane, which can then be used as vehicle fuel or to provide gas. Plus, the digestate can be used as fertiliser, suitable for organic farming systems.
By utilising anaerobic digestion, you can help reduce the amount of waste which you are sending to landfill.
This in turn helps to reduce harmful emissions of harmful greenhouse gases, as biodegradable material which is simply sent to landfill will emit a large amount of methane, and carbon dioxide if it is simply left to rot.
Currently, England generates around 177 million tonnes of waste a year – a disproportionate amount to what is reused or recycled. The government are trying to put measures in place to move towards a zero waste economy, which means that waste resources are fully valued and everything that can be reused and recycled is.
As part of this, the UK government and the European Union Directive have begun to introduce legal and financial incentives for diverting waste away from landfill, so taking advantage of this technology could even bring financial benefits for your business too.
Additionally, more people are looking to businesses to set an example when it comes to waste management and energy use. By utilising a technology which uses waste to create clean energy, you can help enhance your business’s reputation and values, reflecting your business as a responsible, conscientious company.
By investing in anaerobic digestion for your business, you will be taking a step towards making your business greener, and helping the country meets its waste disposal and energy consumption targets.